Before we left I made a few spreadsheets to track our trip spending (nerd alert), I discovered we have accumulated more than a million airline, hotel, or credit card points over the last year (and some accumulated over my years of work travel)!!! Well that escalated quickly. I had no idea we had reached that level. We have spent the last year or so opening credit cards with high reward points specifically to redeem for free flights and hotels for this trip.
You open a credit card, meet the spending requirement, and get the points. Too simple, right? There must be a catch. But nope, there isn’t. After some research I kinda became obsessed with finding the right credit card to meet our needs with the right bonus and the smallest spending requirement. The result- Now we have a ton of points to help pay for this epic trip!
Since I am a numbers girl here are some of points we have earned and what we have redeemed so far:
JetBlue- 32,000 points earned through credit card bonus. So far we have spent:
- 20,000 points (2 One way flights) from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Lima, Peru
American Airlines- 97,000 points earned through credit card bonus and travel. I think American has the best awards flights and are easy to book. So far we have spent:
- 24,000 (2 Roundtrip flights) from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls in Argentina
- 10,000 (2 One way flights) from Arequipa to Lima in Peru
Intercontinental Hotels- 178,000 points earned though credit card bonus and stays. I think IHG has the best awards earnings. They always have bonus offers just for staying. They also have point breaks on major hotels each quarter. So far we have spent:
- 15,000 points for 3 nights in Antofagasta, Chile to see the hand of the desert.
Marriott (Starwood)- 250,000 points earned though credit card bonuses and stays.
- Nothing booked yet but this is in my future:
We also have a pretty amazing perk with my Citi Prestige Credit Card: Airport lounge access. We have free access to VIP lounges in most major airports. We score a nice place to relax, free wifi, free snacks and drinks, even showers if we need them. Currently we are hanging out in in the Lima, Peru airport lounge sitting in recliners. Fabulous perk!
If you are planning any sort of trip next year I highly recommend checking out a high value credit card bonus that will meet the needs of your trip. You don't have to open a dozen cards to save money. Figure out what airline/hotel you want and how many points you need and apply for the appropriate credit card. Leave your questions below, I'll be happy to help you get started or share some tips.
Obviously, be responsible with opening credit cards. While it has not hurt our credit scores at all we pay the entire balance off each month and only spend what we can afford.