I’ve been thinking a lot about how when Travel Hacking, small wins can add up to great savings over time. When I got started in this hobby, all I wanted was a free round trip flight to San Diego. To that end, I applied for one credit card; the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard. That credit card name sure is a mouthful!! With that one card, I got a $100 credit on the flight I happened to be booking at the time. Then I met the minimum spending requirement of $3,000 in 90 days.
That earned me 40,000 AAdvantage Miles. Offers vary all the time and as of this writing, you can earn 50,000 miles with this card. The minimum spend is only $2,500 in 90 days. Also, this card continues to carry no annual fee in the first year. If you’re interested, you can find out more information here: Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard.
My First Small Wins
With that one credit card, I earned myself a free flight to San Diego the following year. I didn’t have to use the full 40,000 points I’d earned from meeting my minimum spending requirement. I continued to use that one card to make most of my purchases. That first free flight felt life changing. That redemption of miles meant a savings of over $400. This savings was in addition to that first $100 credit I received when I first applied for the card. That may not seem like a lot of money to you. However, to this self proclaimed frugal gal, it was a huge win. Let’s call them Small Wins Number One and Two.
The Wins Get Bigger
A little over 18 months into this hobby, I had earned enough American Airlines miles to fly one way to Oslo Norway in business class. My seat was located upstairs in a special business class secion on British Airways. There were only 20 seat in the whole section. half of them were unoccupied. It cost me 55,000 AAdvantage miles and the cost of the taxes and fees. This really was a huge win for me. Flying business class was not something I had ever imagined doing.
Learning about travel hacking showed me that what was possible without breaking the bank. That trip to Norway had me flying business class on both the outbound and inbound flights. I used two different types of points/miles and flew on two different airlines.
The other type of points I used were Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. I earned those points with both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Business Ink Preferred. There is nothing like sleeping in a lie flat bed/seat complete with pillow and fluffy duvet blanket. I arrived refreshed when I got to Oslo after my overnight flight on Lufthansa.
A great perk of flying business class is the opportunity to access business class lounges in the airport. Those lounges offer comfortable seating, nap rooms with beds and lots of delicious free food and drink (including alcohol). However, for me, the best part of my experience in the British Airways business class lounge was taking a shower; at the airport!!! That is a true luxury. Imagine how fabulous I felt before boarding my 7 hour flight back to the States. It’s hard to put a price on a shower but I can tell you how much money I saved on that trip.
I’ve written about this trip before because it’s really the one that got me completely hooked on Travel Hacking with points and miles. The full cost of my one week long trip would have been over $12,000. That trip included business class flights, a week in an Airbnb, one night in a luxury hotel and a 14 hour round trip scenic train ride to Bergen, second largest city in Norway. I paid a total of $217. Technically, this is a rather large win. I couldn’t have been happier with that savings. In fact, Money Magazine interviewed me about my amazing experience. You can read the article here: This 54-Year-Old Mom Used Credit Card Points to Take a $12,000 Dream Vacation to Norway for Only $217.
I think one of the best aspects of using credit card points and miles is the flexibility they afford me. When I learn of a family occasion that requires travel, it’s so great to be able to book flights and hotels with miles and points rather than dollars. It allows me to say “yes” a lot more often to traveling. It’s taken me to places that I hadn’t expected to go. It’s great to be able to visit friends and family while doing it with a frugal eye. Life is great when you have a stash of miles and points.
Travel hacking small wins add up to big wins over time. As I’ve written before, in a little over two years, I’ve saved over $18,000 on my travel. Can you imagine how you can achieve those first small travel hacking wins? Scroll down and leave a comment. I’d love to help you.