Today, I have another way that you can use Travel Hacking. You can save money on college travel with points & miles. I had an interesting text exchange with my niece who is in her second year of college. She lives on the East coast and attends college in California. Lea was flying the next day back to school when we communicated.
Can you imagine how it felt to learn that Lea’s plane ticket back to California was free? I really do get so much joy out of other people’s travel savings. How about the fact that Lea knew that the flight was free?
How Did They Do It?
Kudos to my sister, Donna, who has stuck with me as I constantly talked about saving money on flights and travel in general. Donna took the actions necessary to earn the miles and or points needed to save the cost of Lea’s flights to school.
Donna uses American airline miles earned with her Barclay’s Aadvantage Aviator credit card to cover flight costs. However, sometimes, she uses fixed value points like Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to cover the costs of Lea’s flights. Over the course of a four year college experience, you can save a lot of money on travel costs.
Did you know that once your child reaches the age of 18, he or she is eligible to apply for credit cards? Before we go any further, this is a strong reminder that you and your college student must use credit cards responsibly. That means paying off the balance in full every month. While in college, most students are considered to still live at home. This offers a unique opportunity for points and miles earning.
Qualifying on Total Household Income
When applying for credit cards, the banks allow the applicant to include all income earned in the household. That means that even if your child is not earning money while attending college, there’s an opportunity to apply for a credit card and be approved based on parent income.
This works the same way for married couples where one partner is not working and relies on the income earned by the spouse. When both members of a couple are applying for credit cards, it’s known as Two Player Mode in the Travel Hacking world. It’s a great way to accumulate additional miles and points.
Back to My Niece’s Free Flights
American Airlines has the best flights to get my niece back and forth to California. To earn American Airline miles, there are several cards both personal and business available to you. The Barclay’s Aadvantage Aviator card is unique in the points and miles world. This is because, the card holder need only make a single purchase in any amount to earn the sign up bonus.
There is an annual fee, currently $99 not waived the first year. Think about how great this is. Buy a $5 coffee and earn 60,000 American Airline miles (the current offer). Those 60,000 miles are enough for a round trip flight to Europe! All for a $99 annual fee.
Credit Card Perks
Of course there are perks that come with this card as well. College students who schlep a large suitcase back and forth to school over the long recesses will appreciate the free checked bag perk. I bet their parents love this perk as well!! Other perks include 2 x points earned on eligible American Airline purchases for every dollar spent. At various times, there are offers of companion tickets for $99 plus tax. This is great when parents want to visit their students at college.
Strategies for Other Credit Cards
What about credit cards with large minimum spending requirements? In this case, you may want to have your college student apply for one of these credit cards. Timing of the application is important with this type of card. Have your child use the card to cover a large household expense. Then, you front the money to your child so he/she can pay the credit card bill when it comes due. This works well only if you are confident that your child can handle the credit card responsibly. Picking credit cards with smaller minimum spending requirements can be a great way to teach your child fiscal responsibility. This also helps to build your child’s credit history. Minimum spending requirements must be made within the first 90 days after the credit card approval date.
Examples of lower minimum spend requirements credit cards are:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited $500 minimum spend requirement
- Chase Freedom $500 minimum spend requirement
- Citi Aadvantage Mile Up $500 minimum spend requirement
- Capital One Venture One $1,000 minimum spend requirement
- Bank of America Travel Rewards $1,000 minimum spend requirement
- Citi Rewards $1,000 minimum spend requirement
- Citi Aadvantage Platinum Select $2,500 minimum spend requirement
I hope this has gotten you thinking in bigger ways when it comes to covering the cost of college travel with points & miles. Apply these strategies to more than just airfare. Think creatively and you will realize that college visits often require hotel or Airbnb stays. Why not get started now to earn the points to defray all or a large portion of these travel costs?
As always, I’m here to answer your questions. Please scroll down and leave a comment for me. It lets me know you are reading what I have written for you.