Another Free Flight and Hotel on Credit Card Points

Another Free Flight and Hotel on Credit Card Points

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!

Free Flight

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.

Free Hotel

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.

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  1. As of right now I have around 160,000 American miles and 120,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points. Time to start cashing out for some free trips.
    Sean @ One Smart Dollar recently posted..11 Household Uses for Lemon JuiceMy Profile

    • Dude, that’s a TON of points, well done. We had 70,000 Alaska, 45,000 UR, 50,000 British, and 50,000 Starwood. I used more the UR and Starwood, and half the Alaska points so far. it’s fun traveling for free 🙂

  2. We are probbaly each going to get the British Airways Visa in the next couple months and get the 50K avios and then do roundtrip business class from Boston to Dublin next year. Currently we are getting ready to apply for a CSP and probably some sort of Amex, but none of the offers are that oustandings, so we may apply for two US Airways cards before the merger goes through.

    It is an exciting game we play!

  3. Great work! We’re simple cash back users right now. Honestly, while the churning definitely sounds like it has some awesome benefits, we’re hoping to buy a home in the next few years and I just don’t want to risk our credit profile. This kind of thing is something I’ll probably look into more seriously when we have less of a need to keep our credit profile in top condition.
    Matt Becker recently posted..My Life Insurance MistakeMy Profile

    • On another note, about 6 months back my wife and I took our delayed honeymoon and left our then 9-month old son with my parents for a week. We missed him a ton, but think he barely even noticed we were gone! He had a great time and so did my parents. I’m sure your son will have a great time doing something different for a weekend.
      Matt Becker recently posted..My Life Insurance MistakeMy Profile

      • Thanks for the encouragement! Definitely needed that.

      • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

        Best to get him used to it. My oldest is five and my husband and I each had a business trip to attend in different states. We left them with my sister and the poor kid is beside herself! We both have gone away before just never at the same time. It took her two hours to go to sleep last night bc she was waiting for us to come home. She couldn’t grasp that we weren’t coming back in time for bedtime’

  4. Nice! Hope you guys have a great time. The swan and dolphin are nice (we stayed there for Epcot) and the ferry is awesome to take a break from the park in the middle of the day. We did the early open at Epcot, stayed until 2ish, went back to the swan to have lunch and relax poolside (poolside cafe was way cheaper than park food and tasty!) and then headed back around 5ish to see fireworks and more rides. Oh, and this was all with my MIL- Epcot is one of her favorite places!
    Mrs PoP recently posted..Carnival of Personal Finance – Beach Day EditionMy Profile

    • That sounds like a blast! I think we’re going to do Magic Kingdom for the morning, and Epcot in the afternoon, but good to know about the cheaper/tasty poolside cafe 🙂

  5. I don’t think we can start credit card churning until we have locked in our mortgage. As soon as we have a house, I think I’ll be free to start looking at opening new credit cards with rewards.
    Savvy Financial Latina recently posted..June 2013 Net WorthMy Profile

    • Yes, good call. If you need a pristine credit score in the near future, I’d hold off until you get the loan needed (home loan only, because car loans are stupid)

  6. Good job! I can’t wait until we buy our next house and can start signing up for more rewards cards.
    Michelle recently posted..$7,641 in May Extra Income – Side Hustles!My Profile

  7. We did something similar in 2009. We stayed at the Swan. My husband’s company paid full price for first 3 days (conference) and we had booked a cheap room on lowest possible rewards. But since the company paid a super high rate and we were platinum members (I signed up during a promotion), they gave us a suite for the whole time. Flight were Southwest. At that time they had the 14(?) or something segments get a free roundtrip deal. (I miss that). With my husband’s frequent short trips we could get mine for free.

    We did pay for a 10 day Disney pass valid for 10 years. I figured we would have a kid by 2019 and use the rest of the days as it was only slightly higher than a 4 day price. Now we have 6 days left over and don’t have to pay the increased price when we go next time. We spent a lot on restaurants though. Cost us almost as much as the Disney pass.
    Suba @ Wealth Informatics recently posted..How can I afford everything I want? Should I stop wanting?My Profile

    • Nice work on the Suite Upgrade. I’m just hoping for a view of the fireworks, but I wouldn’t turn down a suite 🙂

      And it sounds like a Disney Trip is in the near future for you?? 😉

  8. Sweet! Awesome plan, Jacob! I’m churning the Starwood Preferred Card right now too….still undecided on where we’re going!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Job Titles, Income and Net WorthMy Profile

    • We’ve rocked some AMAZING hotels with the Starwood, and will still have over 15,000 points left after this last churn. I am LOVING this 🙂

    • Well since you own rentals and are now self employed the two INK cards from chase are nice (kind of high min spends though) and you could always get an SPG business card. Also you should be on the look out Amex has been doing 75K point gold business cards with much lower spend than normal and first year fee waived.

  9. I love travel hacking and reading these posts makes me what to get back into it a little more! Congrats on the awesome trip!
    The College Investor recently posted..Reasons Why Investors Fail…and What To Do About ItMy Profile

  10. This is really great! I have two cards, and both are cash back. One is 1% and the other can go up to 1.75% depending on the month.

    For now, I plan to cash out my balances and use it for a weekend trip in July (though I realize it could have been cheaper with different cards in place…alas, this is what I have).

    I’m intrigued by using the cards for vacations. Since I’m having our third kid this fall, we won’t be going on any vacations for awhile after the birth.

    But, traveling with a family of 5 can get expensive so it might be nice to start banking up points.
    Kacie recently posted..A trip to the mountains coming upMy Profile

    • Especially with family travel, racking up CC bonus rewards will save you TONS for your trips. You do have to churn more cards for a longer period, but the savings is pretty significant. For example, my Portland trip I would value our points at about 3.5cpm (cents per mile [or point]), which is much better than the 1cpm most cash back gives. But the REAL value is in the sign up bonus. The lame cash back cards give no bonus, or like $100, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives $400 cash back, or $500 in travel rewards. MUCH better.

  11. I usually save my miles and points for overseas travel. It maximizes my rewards and I get to fly first or business class.
    krantcents recently posted..Would James Bond be eligible for life insurance?My Profile

    • International Travel is a GREAT redemption value, and something I’m looking at further down the road for sure. If we go to Italy or something, it’s going to be First Class or bust!

  12. That is a pretty good score. I mostly do cash back cards but I did sign up for a travel card last month that offered a $400 sign up bonus. I think it is going to be my primary card to use when 5% cash back isn’t available.
    Andy Hough recently posted..May Expenses – $1658.21My Profile

  13. I got a couple of cheap cash cards for now until I’m more comfortable with the higher churning thresholds. Shouldn’t be too long though!
    Lance @ Money Life and More recently posted..Turning Our Townhouse Into a Rental PropertyMy Profile

  14. Great work! I am looking into applying for an airline and hotel card in the near future. I already stay in a hotel 3 months a year for work and have points in the priority chain (Holiday Inn is my only hotel option for the work…so Intercontinental, Crown Plaza, Hotel Indigo line). And I will soon be flying regularly for work. Looking to take full advantage of the points my employer will foot the bill for. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you
    Blair@LifeDollarsandSense recently posted..My Week in the Crescent CityMy Profile

    • Check out the Priority Club Visa card (not an affiliate link) for 60,000 bonus pts and a free night stay. You’ll earn 5x points when spending at a Priority Club hotels. Plus, the annual fee is waived the first year. As for flights, You can check out this list of airline cards (affiliate link), and find which one works for the airlines you frequent. If you can, I also recommend stacking up on Chase Ultimate Rewards points, as they can work for airlines, hotels, and even cash back. You can find the best sign up bonus the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which gives you 40,000 bonus pts after $3,000 spend. Check it out here (affiliate link).

  15. My dad and step-mom live in florida and are season ticket holders at disney. They’ve stayed at all of the resorts including the dolphin and the swan. From what they’ve said it looks like you’re in for a really great trip at a really beautiful resort. Enjoy!
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Top 10 Reasons to Pay Off Your Student Loans ASAPMy Profile

  16. All of our credit cards have rewards, but we are on strictly cash back programs. I don’t like how travel rewards cards have so many limitations, and frankly with young kids plus all of the crazy things that airlines and hotels charge for, going on family vacations by flight and staying in hotels just doesn’t have the luster for us that it might otherwise. We’ve replaced three TVs in our house with nice flat screens all thanks to our cashback rewards cards!
    Money Beagle recently posted..6 Terrible Reasons Your Boss Might Love YouMy Profile

    • Nice work on accumulating so much cash back. I’m a signup bonus junkie, not really in it for the long term accumulation. But some have GREAT cash back value, and I recently took advantage of that during our Portland trip to pay for wine and food.

  17. Welcome to the game.

    This year I have traveled to The Maldives, Tokyo and Sri Lanka on one trip, and tomorrow am going to Milan, Rome and Dubai on another.

    I’m looking at at least $50K worth of free travel this year… but no Disneyworld for me yet!
    Matt from Saverocity recently posted..Puerto Rico Dilemma – to Vieques or not to Vieques?My Profile

    • I see you’re deep in the game, with manufactured spend experiments and all! I’m just getting my feet wet, but enjoying the perks so far. I’ll be reading up for more tips and trick to get into the big time $50k in 1 year is NUTSO MONEY!

  18. Awww so super awesome!! What a cool romantic babymoon for you two! Good job Jake!
    Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted..How I Made $1,000 Writing Ebooks for KindleMy Profile

    • Thanks Cat 🙂 I’m getting excited, and I think it’ll be fun. Unfortunately, just called today and couldn’t get the Epcot view room. Oh well, still have a balcony 🙂

  19. Wow – way to go on the points!!!! We are just using ours for cash too now, so that we can put it toward the grocery bill, gifts, or toward credit card payments. We might do the churning thing someday though. Have a great vacation!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Recipe of the Week: Cheese QuicheMy Profile

    • Thanks Laurie! I love the idea of points paying for all our vacations going forward indefinitely. If they cancel all the rewards programs (highly unlikely) or stop allowing big sign up bonuses (more likely), then I’ll just find another way to travel hack. For now, it’s easy peasy! 🙂

  20. Good job dude! I want to go back to Disney! I haven’t been in years and hubby as never been. We’d like to take kiddo in 2 or so years, ideally before #2.
    Catherine recently posted..Lessons From The Dental Office: Welfare and Teen PregnancyMy Profile

  21. I love credit card rewards! Even though its not really “free”, its awesome to be able to take a trip without any of that money coming out of the budget. Congrats!
    Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa recently posted..The Senate Fails… Twice in One DayMy Profile

  22. Wow that is awesome! I haven’t quite mastered the whole “using your credit card for everything” style of spending yet, I’ll probably get a better hang of it when I’m not on such a strict budget. Sounds like a great way to score free vacations though!
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..How Much Do I Really Owe?My Profile

  23. So glad that you enjoyed our “neck of the woods.” We should have gotten together for a FREE lunch or dinner lol. I’m getting ready to take my first FREE trip to Costa Rica next month using points.

    • The weather was pretty awesome. Outside of the daily thunderstorms, we had beautiful warm sunshine most of the time, and enjoyed our pool day 🙂


  1. […] mortgage. These little points make paying bank fees again as easier pill to swallow! I’m no Jacob churning reward points to get amazing vacations, but I’m going to let these little babies […]

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  3. […] I don’t have time for a great write-up of anything, as I’m still catching up from being gone for almost 2 weeks! So here’s some pics of our free vacation on credit card points 🙂 […]

  4. […] catching up on emails and all the other junk that piled up while we were gone. Michelle and I spent a few days in Orlando on credit card points, and were able to have a true vacation, including relaxing and putting away technology for a few […]

  5. […] Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been at it for about 8 months, but have rocked a few short vacations already (you can read about them here and here). […]

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