Traveling for Cheap

2014-06-13_0002The blog is going to be short today! Fate has stepped in this morning and I'm attending Katelyn James' marketing workshop this afternoon (what!?) and need to get some things in order before I do that. I've mentioned in the past that Erik, my family, and I are planning a trip to Europe next year. I've never been and am SO excited. But one of the things I do before any trip or major purchase at all, is to do a lot of research into how to save money! If I CAN save money, you can bet I'm going to try it out. So I began researching ways to save money on a trip to Europe.

That lead me to discovering and other travel blogs like it. I've always heard about earning travel points through credit cards, but found through my first credit card and through other people's opinions that the points were minimal and didn't add up to much at all. Well, I think sometimes that's true if you're just willy nilly using your credit card that you willy nilly applied for because you just needed a credit card.

The key is to purposefully apply for a certain credit card and then purposefully spend a certain amount of money with that credit card to earn the rewards.

I read lots and lots of blog posts on these websites and saw all the amazing places the writers had visited for practically free (not ENTIRELY).

It was all very intriguing. And seemed a little too good to be true. But I know that people think the same thing when I tell them I use coupons to get things for free, so I was willing to believe.

So I applied for my first travel card. It had a sign up bonus of 100,000 American Airlines miles if you spent $10,000 in the first three months. A trip to Europe takes 60,000 miles. So this sounded like a good first card to put my efforts toward.

I learned to "manufacture spending." If you really blow $10,o00 just to earn the points, you're not saving anything! But if you use the card to pay for the things you already normally buy and pay it off immediately, all you're doing is earning free points.

I used the card to pay for our mortgage, car payments, student loans... all the big expenses we pay every month, normally directly paid through our bank accounts.

But I learned that there are other ways to pay these things. The option I chose was to use my travel credit card to purchase gift cards in high amounts that I could load onto a bill pay website (Bluebird or Serve) to pay these normal bills, essentially with a credit card.

You can get the details on HOW to do all this through the website I listed above. I'm still new to it, but it has officially been three months and I have officially earned a TON of miles:

2014-06-13_0003It was so exciting to log in to my account and see this after planning and plotting for three months! Especially since all I'd done was rearrange the way I pay for things. I realize I haven't USED the points yet to prove that I can, but I'll write another blog post about that when the time comes ;)

Until then. I've received my second travel card and am working on THAT sign up bonus currently to help pay for hotels. We'll see how cheap I can make this Europe trip by the end. It's an exciting prospect.

Again, check out that website, but feel free to leave me questions in the comment section and I'll answer them as best I can! There will be more "getting to Europe for cheap" posts in my future I'm sure.