Well, after going through a large number of podcasts and bloggers comments and articles, I’ve chosen to enter the world of travel hacking, like so many others in the FIRE community.
I’ve already provided a link to the travel 101 blog, which I think is one of the best. Other ones to look at if you are interested in travel and seeing the world are Go Curry Cracker or RetireEarlyLifestyle (both with links to right). There also prominently featured on many of the FI podcasts that I listen to. In the end, after realizing how easy it was and the opportunities it provides, I couldn’t resist.
Travel 101 has an excellent course on travel hacking, and its free! For those interested, I suggest you consider taking it.
I first took a look at where I was, based on an American Airlines card and business travel. I also had some hotel stays, again based on business travel.
- American Airlines: 234,436 miles (not bad). Good for a lot of trips, especially international
- Marriott Hotels: 37,563 points (good for about 3 nights, depending on where)
- Hilton:237,817 points (good for about 8 nights, depending on where)
Not a bad start.
In looking at how to get started, I reviewed the cards that Travel 101 suggested and what I already had. One of the issues is that Chase bank has a “5/24” rule, which says you can only get 5 new credit cards within the last 24 months – and that is any credit cards, not just Chase. If you apply for one of theirs after you have gotten 5 others, they will turn you down.
Early in the year, as I started exploring FIRE and looked at Credit card benefits, I got a Citi card with 2% cash back, and an Amazon card for 3% back (because I did so much shopping on Amazon). Thus, I am limited to only applying for 3 other cards. Based on the information provided by the travel hackers, I am going to proceed as follows:
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card: Apply in Dec, put $1,000 in 3 months on it and get 40,000 miles
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business: Apply in Dec, put $2,000 in 3 months on it and get 60,000 points, for a total of 103,000 miles
- Do additional charges on Southwest Cards to reach the 110,000 mile mark and get the travel pass (hopefully as soon as possible).This would enable Mrs. 39 Months to fly with me for free on Southwest.
- Get a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (the mother of all travel cards): Apply in February, after I have done a lot of my Southwest Charges. Charge $4,000 in 3 months and get 50,000 points.
With that done, by the middle of 2018, I should be sitting on a lot of miles, hotels and points. Then its trying to figure out where to go?
Plans for 2018:
- Visit Portland Oregon (Mrs. 39 Months wants to take a class there, and then we can visit some national parks)
- Visit Asheville, NC (I want to take some woodworking courses there)
- Visit Vermont, where my brother lives
- Other trips?
I’ll let folks know how this is going as I try to work stuff out.
What travel hacks have you done/are planning to do?
Mr. 39 Months