Today I want to show you just how lucrative my Travel Hacking experience has been. I started down the points and miles rabbit hole just a little over two years ago. Since then, I’ve made some mistakes and also learned so much about traveling for pennies on the dollar. Now, let’s dive into my travel hacking savings so far.
My First Win
When I first realized I could save money by using points and miles, I was searching for a flight to San Diego, CA. While online, I signed up for an AAdvantage American Airlines Credit Card. The card had a sign up bonus of 40,000 American Airlines Miles. By signing up while booking the San Diego flight, I got an automatic discount on the flight of $100. That $100 was instant gratification and a great win to start my Travel Hacking journey.
My First Airline Miles Redemption
About a year later, I got ready to book another trip to San Diego, For this flight I was able to use the American Airlines miles I had earned with the sign up bonus from that first credit card. I only paid $11.20 for the round trip and used just 25,000 American Airlines miles. The savings on that flight was $379. If you’re keeping score, that’s a total of $479 saved from one credit card sign up with over 15,000 American Airlines miles left to spare.
My First Hotel Savings
While on that second trip to San Diego, I stayed in a resort type hotel and shared a room with others to save a bit of money. My portion of the room rate for the four nights of my stay was $356. I used my Capital One Venture Credit Card to pay for my portion of the room. Once the charge showed up on my Capital One Credit Card Statement, I used the purchase eraser to “erase” the $356 resort stay from my account. I still had over $200 left in Capital One points to use toward other travel expenses. Total savings so far $835.
A Trip to Dallas
A couple of friends invited me to Dallas as they were to be there for a conference. I used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points from my Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to cover my round trip flight on Southwest Airlines. I paid just $11.20 for my flight and saved $428.
This trip, I shared a room with friends at a Hilton property. By then, I had signed up for a Hilton Honors Credit Card. I hadn’t earned the sign up bonus yet but did receive Gold status with the card. So, I paid out of pocket for my portion of the room rate.
However, due to having Gold status, I got myself and my two roommates access to the Concierge Lounge. There, we had a great breakfast buffet each day and snacks and beverages access all day. At night, there was enough food on the Happy Hour Buffet to eat a full dinner. I estimate I saved an additional $100 on food in Dallas. Total savings so far $1,363.
My First Big Trip
One of the friends I got to see when I was in Dallas actually lives in Oslo, Norway. When she invited me to visit, I jumped at the opportunity. By then, I had more credit cards and plenty of American Airlines Miles as well as Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. I wrote all about this amazing trip here: The Trip That Got Me Hooked. I was also featured in Money Magazine where I told my incredible story of Travel Hacking Savings.
Norway Trip Savings
I had decided to splurge on Business Class flights as a gift to myself. courtesy of points and miles. A dear friend flew in from London and shared an Airbnb with me for six nights. While we economized with the Airbnb stay, we splurged on one night’s hotel accommodation in Bergen.
One of the great parts of the trip was the scenic round trip train ride we took from Oslo to Bergen. I booked both the scenic train and the Airbnb with my Capital One Venture Credit Card. As well, there were several types of other transportation including buses, local trains and a ferry paid for with my Capital One card. I offered to pay for meals at restaurants with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card to get 2x points. This was helpful as food is not cheap in Norway and I was paying out of pocket.
When I added up my airfare, Airbnb, Hotel scenic train and other transportation costs it totaled $12,492. Note that the Business Class airfare was a huge chunk of that number. The splurge was so worth it. Arriving refreshed after sleeping in a lie flat airline “bed” was amazing. I also loves showering at the airport Business Class lounge on my way home. So how much did I pay? Drum roll please; a whopping $217! This was by far my biggest Travel Hacking win. I saved $12,275 on that once in a lifetime trip. If you’re still keeping tabs my total savings so far; $13,638.
A Frigid Trip to Minneapolis
I am blessed with wonderful friends who just happen to live all over the world. Now, November would not be my ideal time to visit Minneapolis but when a friend invited me, of course, I said “yes”! This was a quick weekend trip. My friend hosted me and another friend in her home and chauffeured us the whole weekend. I booked round trip airfare on Southwest. Again, I only paid $11.20 of taxes and fees. I saved $306 on that round trip flight. Total savings now $13,944.
A Last Minute Trip to Maui
Around Thanksgiving last year, I was invited to a healing retreat on Maui. I had never been to this kind of retreat and had never been to Hawaii. The trip would take place the first week in January. Knowing that I had a stash of points and miles had me jumping at the opportunity participate. I wound up booking the round trip flight on United Airlines. If you have learned anything from reading my blog, you won’t be surprised to learn that I didn’t have any United miles to use for the flights. No worries, I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United and booked my tickets. As with other round trip flights, I only paid $11.20 for the flight. The cash price was $889. I saved $887.
Car Rental with Points
Since I paid out of pocket for my stay at the beautiful Hale Akua Eco Retreat Center, I used points for my rental car for the week. The rental car savings was $111. My Capital One Venture Card came in handy on the Uber rides to and from my home airport in Philadelphia. I saved another $26 on two rides. My total savings on my Maui trip $1,024. Are you still keeping score? I’m up to a total savings of $14,968.
Sister Weekend in NYC
I had been wanting to spend the weekend with one of my sisters in the Big Apple. We finally coordinated our calendars and chose a weekend in March. The weather was beautiful and the time together was great. I used Hilton Points to cover two nights in a hotel. Breakfast was included which always saves money, especially in NYC. The hotel savings was $490. Since I had used points to pay for the hotel, my sister booked my Amtrak Ticket. That saved additional money. We did the tourist thing and went to the top of the Empire State Building and enjoyed the views; though not the wind! Total saving so far $15,458.
Hubby’s Trip to Florida
This past spring, I knew my husband needed a break and a weekend away. He has some dear relatives in South Florida whom he hadn’t seen in a while. It was my pleasure to book his Southwest Round trip ticket paying only $11.20. We saved $414 on that trip. Since my husband stayed with his relatives, there was no need to use points to cover his lodging. Total savings so far; $15,872.
Daughter’s Flight to Lisbon, Portugal
My daughter has gotten the travel bug and loves to travel. Unfortunately, she’s fairly new in accumulating points and miles. She got in touch to ask if I had any American Airlines miles. I was lucky enough to be able to help her out.
Her travel companion had picked the flight which had a 15 hour layover in Madrid. This allowed for a day of sightseeing before arriving in Lisbon. I booked her interesting itinerary and used 30,000 American Airline miles. Taxes and fees for the international flight amounted to $56.20. The cost of the flight would have been over $1,200. Savings for my daughter $1,150. It was a joy to help her out. In the future, she’ll return the favor, I’m sure. Now, we are up to savings of $17,022.
Phoenix in the Spring
I wrote all about the savings on my Phoenix trip here:
The total savings on that trip, which included round trip airfare, a four night hotel stay and Uber rides to and from the airports was $1,444. Now the total savings is $18,466.
So there you have it. My Travel Hacking Savings have saved me and my family over $18,000! This has all been possible for me just from strategically signing up for travel credit cards. I use my credit cards responsibly and am able to reap fabulous travel savings.
What’s holding you back from jumping into this hobby? How can I make it possible for you? Scroll down and leave a comment below.