Travel can be Affordable

Before Blogger Hubby and I made our last BIG trip – the kind of trip where you go to a different hemisphere AND below the equator – we knew  that because of the length of the flight we did not want to travel in coach.  I wanted to us to fly in Business Class or First Class.  To fly this way, for us,  is cost prohibitive.  We had decided years ago (yes, it has been on my bucket list this long) to use frequent flier miles and had been religiously saving them since 2006 through our United Airline Visa credit card.  This was a trip that probably wouldn’t be repeated and I wanted to do it in comfort and be well rested so I could hit the pavement when we landed in Sydney, Australia.

 We quickly found out that we didn’t have sufficient miles even though we had close to 200,000 miles with United Airline.  I was going to do my best not to settle for coach for this long of a journey from the East Coast to Sydney.
I quickly did what any modern woman would do – I googled frequent flier  – and a whole new wonderful world opened up in front of my eyes.  There were so many blogs out there with so much information and terminology that I had never heard before.  Apparently there is this whole underground culture about frequent flier miles, how to get more, how to spend them and new promotions.  Oh, I was in blogger heaven as I dreamt about my future travel plans actually coming to fruition.
I began following Frugal Travel Guy (www.frugaltravelguy.com) when it was being written by Rick Ingersoll (he occasionally still posts there).  I would read his blog and actually email him with questions.  He was very patient with me and gave me lots of good advice.  He recognized that we needed more miles quickly and suggested that both Blogger Hubby and myself apply for the Chase Sapphire Credit Card, do the minimum spend ($3000 in four months) and get the 50,000 Ultimate Reward points that we could transfer over to our United Airline Mileage account.  For us getting  instant approval was easy since we only had about 2 credit cards at that time and we always paid them off in full each month.  We also had excellent credit scores because we did pay them off in full each month.  We did not add each other as co-signers on the credit cards but instead we each had our own card and that allowed us to get 100,000 miles in total. Since we were going on a cruise from Sydney to Auckland, we used our new credit cards to pay down our cruise and within 30 days we had our points.

Below are the Three Main Rules when signing up for credit cards:

1) know your credit score.  You can get some FAKO scores (similar to FICO scores) for free by going to http://www.quizzle.com, http://www.creditsesame.com or http://www.creditkarma.com

2) Always pay your credit card bills in full each month

3) Do not plan on purchasing a home or having a large expense within the next two year if you plan on opening more than a couple of credit cards

When you open a new credit card your credit score will take a dip, generally about 3-5 points per card but it will come up quickly, more quickly than you think.  In fact, many hard core credit card churners apply for 3-4 new cards every 91 days and then close these cards within 8-11 months so they won’t have to pay the credit card fee which is generally waived the first year.

Having many credit cards does not hurt your score as long as you pay off your cards in full every month on time. Your new credit is only about 5% of your total credit score.   I have opened ten new cards this year and my score is still in the Excellent range.  After two years these credit card hard “pulls” on your credit history drop off.  Through my credit card sign ups and after using miles to fly Business Class to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, using points for our hotel stays in Sydney (4 nights), Auckland (1 night) and Singapore (4 nights) as well as using miles to book summer flights for Blogger Hubby I still have over 1.1 million miles.  In future posts I’ll show you how to get more than one mile per dollar spent as well as manufactured spending.

Are you interested in how much money we paid for our flights?  We flew First Class from Washington Dulles to San Francisco on United, Business Class on Asiana Airline to Seoul, Business Class again on Asiana to Sydney, Auckland to Bribane on Air New Zealand in Business Class, Brisbane to Singapore on Singapore Air in Business Class, Singapore to Beijing in economy on Singapore Air and finally Beijing to Washington Dulles in Business Class on United.  When flying Business Class have a separate line going through security, separate boarding, able to use the airline lounges for food, drink, showers and many more perks. We paid a total of $110 each for taxes.

When I sit and think of all the miles and points that I have,  I am reminded of this book:

oh the places

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