I feel like we just talked about this a few months ago. Oh wait, we did. Back in April, Michelle and I went to Portland and stayed in a fancy pants hotel for free, along with using our Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards card cash back bonus to pay for the meals, wine tasting and bottles of wine. We made out with $1,250 worth of free vacation, some great memories, and a half dozen bottles of wine. W00t! And less than two months later, we’re back at it again, this time it’s going to include a free flight AND hotel on credit car points.
“I’m Goin’ To Disneyworld!”
In a few weeks, I’m flying out to Orlando for a work conference, where I get to look at all the cool new gadgets in the Audio Visual industry. I geek out on this stuff, so I’m pretty excited, and even though I’ll be working, I will DEFINITELY be enjoying myself. The conference ends Friday, and I should fly back Saturday to re-join my family, and get back to regular life. But I’m a rewards junkie, and this trip was the PERFECT setup to exercise my credit card point muscles and see how we could make it an EXTREMELY CHEAP, and super fun vacation. Since Disneyworld is right where I’m going to be, I figure I’d fly the family out for a super-sweet Disney Vacation. We’ve got some free passes to the parks, so might as well enjoy some Disney time and sunshine on the cheap!
Having racked up over 70,000 miles on my Alaska Airlines card before I started churning, I took the opportunity to start pricing out flights to Orlando for Michelle and our little man. Since he’s under 2, he’d fly free, so BONUS! I found some super-saver flights that would only cost 40,000 miles round-trip, so I coordinated scheduled with Michelle and booked the ticket. BOOYAH! We since decided to make this a “Mommy-Daddy” trip, so the little one will be with family/friends while we enjoy our vacation away. It wouldn’t have cost more to bring him, but we wanted to see how well he does with Mommy and Daddy away for a few days, plus we wanted to have some Disney fun, and he wouldn’t care much.
Since I am the proud owner of the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel rewards card (three, actually), I started to look at nearby Starwood properties. There were plenty to choose from (since Starwood owns Sheraton, Westin, Four Points, and a host of other hotels), and some were even as cheap at 4,000 points a night. But since we’re into high-rolling on our hotel points, I decided to check out The Dolphin and Swan Hotel, located right next door to Disney’s Epcot center.
The hotel seemed to have some decent reviews on Trip Advisor, so I called up the Starwood Preferred Guest concierge (yes, I have a 24/7 concierge with my credit card), and said, in my best “rich-guy” British Accent, “Can you spot me a cup of Earl Grey tea?.” The concierge was a bit confused, so I dropped the accent and asked about the availability of the Swan and Dolphin hotels in Disneyworld. They said the swan was sold out, but the Dolphin was available. I asked for a sweet room, and they gave me a room with a balcony and view for 21,000 points (2 nights). Done and done! I was a few points short, so I did chip in $35 to cover the gap, but the room was booked! Not to mention we can get free shuttle service to any of the parks, even a ferry ride across the water to Epcot Center.
Now, a room with a view may sound nice to everyone here, but that just doesn’t cut it for me. I know that a “view” could be anything, even a view of the side of another hotel. So I will be calling back this week to ask specifically for a view of the Epcot Center. What is flippin’ awesome about that particular view is that there is a fireworks show every night, and we would have a balcony view of the epic show. Pair that with a decadent dessert and some sparkling pear cider (because Michelle is preggy), and we have ourselves a magical romantic getaway!
What Is Your Credit Card Rewards Plan?
I’ve only been credit card churning for 6 months, and already we’ve taken 2 sweet vacations on the credit card company’s dime. We’re just getting started here, and it has paid off handsomely. So my question is; what is YOUR credit card rewards plan? If you’re rocking a wicked awesome budget and can use a credit card without getting into debt, what are you doing to maximize rewards? If you use a credit card, and your answer is simply “cash back”, good for you. But I’d recommend looking in to some of the sweet sign up bonuses out there, and take advantage of the free miles and points the credit card companies are offering. I recommend figuring out what your travel style is, pick a few destinations, and then compare travel rewards cards to pick the ones that will PAY FOR YOUR ENTIRE VACATION!
My goals when starting this was to get one free vacation per year. So far, we’re at two, and I’ve got another 7 months to go. I’m still learning all the tips and tricks in earning credit card travel rewards, and I know I could probably get a TON more points once I really get into it. Of course, I’ll report all my findings here, but for now……..I’M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!!!
For those who want to enjoy free travel as well, you can read up more on it HERE.