How to get most of your travel expense for free

April 9, 2018
travel to amsterdam

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In March, the husband and I traveled to three countries in Europe – Brussels, Belgium, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Paris, France. I had booked the flight tickets with only 19 days to spare before the actual trip. The hotels were booked 18 days before landing in Europe. It was a trip both of us wanted to do spontaneously without the torture of waiting months to go on a trip like we usually do. We ended up spending about $600 a person on our 11 day Europe trip. A bit cheap for Europe right? Considering that 1 USD is .80 euro.

Well, our trip wasn’t really only $600 a person or $1200 total. It was actually a little over $4,000, but we didn’t pay all that.

So how did we only pay about $600 a person for our 11-day, 3 countries trip? With points! Chase Ultimate Rewards points to be exact which you can start accumulating from the Chase Sapphire Reserve!

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is my favorite travel credit card and if you aren’t using a travel credit card when you travel, you really need to be. Heck you should be charging everything on a credit card if you can afford to pay cash because of the points you start to accumulate, plus it makes everything easier to track on what you actually spend your money on. Certain cards also give your purchases extended warranties and insurance. Always pay with a card if you can afford to pay it off monthly because there are loads of benefits to it!

One of the reasons why you should have the Chase Sapphire Reserve in your wallet is that it comes with 50,000 sign up bonus when you hit the minimum spend of $4,000 in 3 months. 50,000 bonus points is about $750 when you redeem for travel. If you know you need to make a large purchase (say maybe your business), sign up for the card so you can easily hit that minimum spend or you can charge all your daily purchases and bills. $4,000 in 3 months is about $1,333.33 a month. How much are you paying monthly in cash and not benefiting you? Charge your groceries, gas, electric, utilities, and the list can go on. There are plenty of ways to hit minimum spend, but only do it if you know you can afford it. Don’t go into debt trying to get free travel because that defeats the purpose.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve does come with a $450 annual fee that gets charged on your first months bill, but I’ll tell you why it’s totally worth it to pay that annual fee. The card comes with a $300 travel credit a year, which really makes the annual fee to be only $150. This travel credit is applied in your statement. If you book a hotel, Airbnb, transportation, etc, it will apply it to your travel credit until you hit $300. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with $100 towards Global Entry or TSA Pre®. The bigger bang is applying for that Global Entry because you get the TSA Pre® too. What’s Global Entry? Global Entry let’s you come back in to the states without having to wait in that long line in immigration/customs. You’re already cleared with a background check and can enter the US quicker. TSA Pre® let’s you slip into security faster without having to be in that long line and taking out all your stuff to go through the x-ray. Totally worth it right!? But there is more!

ultimate reserve ultimate reserve ultimate reserveHere’s how you can earn points for every dollar you spend:

  • Earn 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains
  • Earn 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide from fast casual to fine dining
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also gives you Priority Pass and access to some lounges in the airport. Can we say free food and drinks? We know airport food is expensive, so why not get it for free? Some lounges also have showers. The card also gives you some perks with some car rental companies, covers your car on any accidents and damages, and also provides you trip insurance, including health if anything happens to you while you are out of the country. You can read all the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card here.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve are worth 1.5x more when redeeming for travel through the Chase Ultimate Reserve portal. You can see the redemption in the images. You can also transfer them to travel partners.

As you can see, our plane ticket costed $1,500.42 while our hotel costed $1,099.19. We had some travel credit still out of our $300 for the year that covered our Airbnb, Flixbus, and airfare from Amsterdam to Paris. For this European trip, we only paid about $1200 or a little over and that was mostly on food, drinks, Uber, metros, museums, and lots of coffee without a budget in mind. Of course you can minimize those spendings if you really wanted to. The best part about charging our travel on the card is that we just earned more points for our next trip.

So are you going to start collecting points and making your travel expense more than half the cost? $750 from the 50,000 bonus points plus the $300 travel credit can give you $1050 towards your next travel to Europe or wherever your heart desires. (I’ll totally show you how to book flights for cheap on the next blog post where that $1050 can cover your flight and accommodation). Not up for paying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee? Get the baby brother, the Chase Sapphire Preferred where your first year is free, $95 annual fee after,  and still receive 50,000 bonus points when you hit minimum spend. Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Where do you plan to travel to next with your new points?

how to get most of your travel expense for free #creditcardhack #travel #wanderlust #budgettravel

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1 Comment

  • Reply Vibes life us April 25, 2018 at 12:51 am

    This card sounds amazing!! We don’t have it in the UK though unfortunately- we do make sure that we make the most of our BA Amex which gives us air miles!!
    Thanks for sharing your tips!!

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