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Christmas in New York City

travel hacking Oct 08, 2021

When our 2 daughters were young, my wife told me that she wanted to take them to NYC for Christmas one day.

She had been with her mom & sister to NYC for Christmas & thought our girls would love the lights, the decorations, and especially the shopping!

At the time, that wouldn't have been in the budget. Plane flights for all of us + hotels + taxis + food + shopping made me think it was more than we could bite off. We were in ministry, after all.

Once I was introduced to Travel Hacking and started earning rewards points, I knew this was the first place I wanted to take the family!

Like I recommend on this blog, the first card we applied for was the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (my wife got it first — click here to see why). We applied for several other cards as well, and with the welcome bonuses from those cards, plus the spend we put on those cards, we eventually had enough points to go to NYC for 4 nights FREE (well, free travel that is — we bought some toys...

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Your New Favorite Hotel

travel hacking Sep 03, 2021

There is one hotel chain where your travel rewards often go further than any other.

If you listen to travel rewards discussions online, you'll hear people raving about this hotel chain.

Can you guess which one it is?

Hyatt.

Each Hyatt point is worth about 1.9 cents! In other words, a $250/night room would only cost you 13,158 points!

In case you're not sure whether to be impressed or not, let me compare it to several other popular chains.

Marriott - .8 cents each

  • A $250/night room would cost you 31,250 points

IHG (Holiday Inn) - .5 cents each

  • A $250/night room would cost you 50,000 points

Hilton - .6 cents each

  • A $250/night room would cost you 41,667 points

We could keep going.

As you see, Hyatt points are worth between 2-4x what other hotel chain points are worth!

It gets better.

Chase is a 1:1 travel partner with Hyatt. That means each point you earn on your Chase Sapphire card you can transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 value. 1 Chase point transfers as 1 Hyatt point. You can rack...

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How I Went From a 0 to 800+ Credit Score

travel hacking Jul 30, 2021

When I started Travel Hacking, my credit score was essentially 0. Yes, you read that right, zero.

I didn't have bad credit, I just had no credit. This was because I hadn't had any debt in years & I had never even had a personal credit card before.

My credit score really didn't matter to me because I didn't ever plan to borrow money for anything.

But, that did mean I couldn't apply & be approved for some of the best travel cards. That wasn't a big deal, but it did interest me in bumping up my credit score to qualify for these cards. The best cards often require a fairly high credit score, usually 750+.

Here's how I went from no credit to a credit score of over 800 (while still remaining debt free):

  1. I opened an entry-level card with USAA, my auto/homeowners insurance provider. They were willing to let me open a card with no credit due to my long payment history of my insurance premiums. But it didn't have great travel benefits & my credit limit was extremely low, I...
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Highest Welcome Bonus Ever For This Card

travel hacking Jun 18, 2021

It wasn’t long ago that I told you about the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and how it’s often regarded as the best travel rewards card out there.

I wasn’t planning to come back to it so quickly but they just started offering their highest welcome bonus ever. It actually says "Best Offer Ever" on their website & many of the travel rewards bloggers are going crazy about it.

Some of you have been texting me to make sure I saw it. I definitely did.

The Welcome Bonus if you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred right now is 100,000 points. You might want to read that last sentence again. 100,000 points!!!

For perspective, when I got this card a few years ago, it was 50,000 points. When my wife got it, it was also 50,000 points. The offer right now is double what we received as a Welcome Bonus.

The requirement is that you have to spend $4,000 on this card in the first 3 months after you open it to earn this bonus. Not hard for most. Just throw as many expenses as...

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How I Booked a FREE 9-Night Trip to California

travel hacking May 21, 2021

The kids are out of school and our family is ready to travel!

We have enough rewards points that I’m allowing each of my kids to pick a trip this year.

My youngest daughter, Charis, has really wanted to visit Southern California (think Disneyland, Sea World, Zoo, beaches, & her favorite YouTubers live there - haha). We’ve never been there. We have friends there and my sister's family goes each year and loves it.

We knew it was time to make the trip.

The plan is to start in LA and slowly make our way down the coast to San Diego over 9 days. Checking out the various beaches and attractions along the way, of course.

Here’s how we booked it.

Airline:

  • We fly Southwest as often as we can because my wife and I both have Companion Passes. That means that anytime we fly, a companion can fly with us for free. Charis, my youngest daughter, is my wife's companion. And McKinley, my oldest daughter, is my companion. I’ll explain how we both got the Companion Pass in...
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Don’t Get Any New Credit Cards Until You Read This

travel hacking Apr 30, 2021

If you’re serious about pursuing travel rewards & traveling nearly free (aka Travel Hacking), this caution is for you.

Some of the best credit card carriers have strict rules about applying for their cards. You need to know these rules so you can maximize your travel rewards.

It’s generally agreed upon in Travel Hacking communities that Chase Bank credit cards are the most valuable cards out there.

This is because:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points are very versatile
  • Chase UR points are worth ~2 cents, far more than most
  • Chase Travel Partners have some of the best redemptions

As a result, Chase is very strict about how many cards you can get and how often you can get them.

This is often called Chase’s 5/24 rule.

It means that if you have been approved for 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months, you are unable to apply for a Chase card.

In other words, you have to be under 5/24 to be approved for any Chase card. For most of you, that’s probably...

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The Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards

travel hacking Apr 09, 2021

Without a doubt, the card that consistently ranks at the top of best cards to have for travel is...

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card

This is my primary card. My wife also has an upgraded version of this card (more on this in a future post).

Here are a few reasons this card is so great:

The welcome bonus is usually very generous.

A welcome bonus is a reward you get for applying for the card and putting a certain amount of spend on it during a specified time period.

As an example, right now the welcome bonus is 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. This is the highest welcome bonus I've ever seen on this card. It probably won't last long. It's most often between 40,000-60,000 points.

Usually you have to spend $80,000 to get 80,000 points. But, to reward you for applying, they’ll give you 80,000 points just for spending $4,000. Quite a reward, especially when you take into account the value of Chase points.

These 80,000 points are...

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Is It Really Possible to Travel Nearly Free?

travel hacking Mar 05, 2021

Short answer: Yes!

If you’re paying a lot to travel, you don’t have to anymore!

Our family has been traveling for several years now for nearly free. I took our family of 4 to NYC for Christmas free! Then the next year I took my wife to Charleston free! Then the following year we had trips to Chicago, London, Paris, and Seaside booked free (but COVID interfered). And we just booked a 2-week trip to Hawaii for our family of 4 free as well! We’ve done this over and over again. I know it seems too good to be true, but it really isn't - ha!

How do we do this? We use credit card rewards earned from welcome bonuses that we apply for in a strategic order.

Welcome bonuses are the key. An example of a welcome bonus is a card that advertises 50,000 free points if you spend $3,000 on the card in 3 months. Typically you'd have to put $50,000 in spend on that card to earn the 50,000 free points, but they are incentivizing you to apply for the card by giving you that many...

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15 Ideas for Level 1 Tentmakers

A Level 1 Tentmaker is looking to earn just a little bit of extra spending money, often to take their family on vacation or get away with their spouse a few times a year.

Needed: ~$5,000

Here are some ideas to earn an extra $5k:

  1. Teach English Online - many opportunities to teach English online to people wanting to learn from and practice with native English speakers
  1. Instacart/Door Dash/Uber Eats - food and grocery delivery has become even more popular with the pandemic
  1. Tutoring (pick a subject) - online or in your city, there are opportunities to tutor hourly in subjects you are proficient in
  1. Flip products on Facebook Marketplace/eBay/Craigslist - guitars, purses, couches, or other high value items that you can look for good deals on and sell for a bit more
  1. Couponing - if you are diligent about finding and using coupons, you can save/make quite a bit of money
  1. Referrals - connect with your friends in sales and offer to bring them leads for a referral fee (many industries...
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Free Hawaii Trip or $1,500+ Cash

travel hacking Jan 20, 2021

The title sounds like click bait, right? Too good to be true?

Thankfully, it isn't!

I want to start posting more regular free content to help pastors, missionaries & church leaders supplement or replace their ministry incomes with tentmaking. 

I figured I'd start with helping you take a free trip to Hawaii or get some quick cash! How does that sound? Ha! Pretty good I'm sure!

No gimmicks here. We've been doing this for years!

Click below to get a free PDF of the 7 Steps to booking your trip for 2 to Hawaii for free!

Free Hawaii Trip

Happy Travels!

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