As I mentioned in an earlier post my goal is completely “free” travel. By free I don’t mean zero cost. By free I mean liberated. Liberated from using what I would refer to as my everyday income. Income derived from my salary. I am naturally a tightwad and I hate spending money. The funny thing is that I don’t have that same feeling with the money earned from reselling. It almost feels like points, albeit the most valuable kind of points. Below is my strategy for liberated, aka free, travel.
I am not the type of travel hacker who hoards miles. I earn with a specific goal in mind and target credit card applications for that goal. My near term goals are Mexico (winter) and Hawaii (spring). Long term I am looking at taking my parents and my family of four to Ireland, hopefully in business class.
To that end here is a general outline of my free travel strategy.
Going forward I am looking for cards that fall into one of two categories. First, cards have nice bonuses that meet my travel goals. Given my current goals the cards that are of interest to me are anything that earns Amex Membership Rewards Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Avios, Alaska Airlines miles, and American Airlines Miles.
The second category of card that I am looking for are cards that I can leverage for manufactured spending and reselling. The cards I am looking at here are the Amex Old Blue Cash and Chase Ink. These cards both have 5x opportunities that can be leveraged for points and cash.
So the miles and points will get me to my destination, but what about play money and hotels? Here is where the MS comes in. First for for the hotels. I am not a huge fan of hotels. I will use them when it makes sense financially, but I much prefer vacation rentals. Especially with the two boys. My goal with the MS is to earn enough cash back to cover a vacation rental. Right now we use the Old Blue Cash card for everyday spending. This gets us 5% cash back on gas, groceries, and drug stores (cough gift cards). I try not to abuse this generous cash back bonus too much because I don’t want to get shut down. All other MS will be to meet minimum spends.
Currently, I have a RedBird and my wife has a Serve card. That is $10k per month between the two. I am not likely to max that out every month, but it is there if needed.
Reselling is going to be my main source of income for the travel slush fund. The purpose of the slush fund is to pay for the travel expenses that miles will not cover such as spending money and vacation rentals. If possible I will also look to the slush fund to cover purchasing miles and even airfare (gasp!) if the need arises.
Big banks like to hand out bonuses for opening up accounts. Right now I am working on a $300 bonus for opening a checking account with Key Bank. My goal is to use this to pad the extra cash made with MS and Reselling.
My goal is to travel on as little of my own money as possible. We travel 2 to 3 times per year (less this year) so I think this is a doable strategy for the future.