Lately, I’ve been getting into the credit card game of accumulating travel points. I’m even trying to convince my friends and a co-worker to get in on this because the rewards are sooooo SWEET! Although I do focus most of my efforts on learning about investing, I am now very much addicted to travel blogs!
Anyone who follows this website knows that I am against all consumer debt (i.e. liabilities). So, of course I would never sign up for more credit cards just so I could spend more crazily! There must be another reason, and it’s this:
Once I achieve early FI, I want to travel the world for FREE (or as cheaply as possible).
Just like I’ve been doing with this website and planning for my financial future, this year, I took action and started planning for my post-FI lifestyle. Since a huge chunk of that revolves around traveling the world, the natural thing to do was to start researching for ways I could maximize this.
Back in May, I opened up 4 new credit cards. These cards were my gateway into travel points, and I will post a separate entry going over which cards I opened. For this entry, I want to show you how anyone can sign up for just a few credit cards and receive enough points to fly round trip around the world on first class for FREE!
The first card to open is the Citi Platinum AAdvantage Visa Signature Card.
The second card to open is the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Visa Card (I couldn’t find the exact link). If the Visa deal is no longer valid, there’s also the MasterCard version good for 40,000 bonus points.
For each Visa card, you will received 50,000 bonus points if you meet the minimum spending requirement of $2500 within four months of becoming a cardmember.
The exact offer I got in on is shown below (was valid in May, terms and conditions may be slightly different today. It’s always changing. Consult Google Search for the latest deals):
“Can I apply for both AA cards at the same time?”
Yes! I’m hearing it might be safer to apply for just one card at a time (wait a week or two in between applications). When I applied in May, I secured both on the same day. Apparently the screening process is a little more strict these days. YMMV.
“What if I don’t own a business? How do I qualify for the CitiBusiness card?”
-It isn’t that difficult. I’ve registered “businesses” such as the following: this blog, rental business, guitar instructor earning less than $500/year. 😉
Most credit card companies aren’t going to do thorough investigations and check your “business”. Don’t be afraid to apply. I’m sure you probably have some sort of side hustle you could qualify. I would think a blog would be the easiest way to go about meeting this requirement.
“What about annual fees?”
-First year is generally waived. You can cancel before the first year is up to get around paying for a card you no longer need. You still get to keep all the points.
“Won’t my credit score take a huge hit?”
-Not really, if at all. I have 10 credit cards or so. My score has actually improved since opening my last batch of cards because my line of credit has increased greatly. The proof is in the pudding — I just closed on Rental Property #3 with a 760 credit score. It’s not perfect credit, but high enough to get the best interest rates. I wouldn’t sweat it…
By signing up for both AAdvantage cards, we will rack up 100,000 bonus points after meeting the minimum spend. Once you meet the minimum spending of $5000 (for two cards), you will also pile on an additional 5000 points. This is a total of 105,000 points at your disposal!
The next card to get is the U.S. Airways Dividend Miles Card. This card offers 30,000 bonus points for signing up, and the beautiful thing is you can earn all those points with just a single swipe of the card! That’s right, there’s no minimum spend for this card. Just buy a stick of gum at the grocery store and you are done!
By signing up for three credit cards, we will have accumulated the following amount of points:
Citi Platinum AAdvantage Visa Signature Card: 52,500 points
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Visa Card: 52,500 points
U.S. Airways Dividend Miles Card: 30,000 points
Grand Total: 135,000 Points
135,000 points is basically in the ballpark of what you need to secure a round-trip flight across the globe flying first class! If you are wondering how we merge points from two different airlines, it’s due to the following:
American Airlines is on its way to becoming the biggest airline in the world after winning bankruptcy-court approval to merge with US Airways.
“American Airlines plans to keep its loyalty program, AAdvantage. That means the US Airways program, Dividend Miles, will be dissolved, and its members will be absorbed into AAdvantage. Mr. Parker said there would be a one-to-one transfer of miles (one Dividend mile will equal one AAdvantage mile), swelling American’s program to more than 100 million members.”
American Airlines is a part of the One World Alliance program:
Awards Chart (135,000 Points for Round Trip First Class to Asia)
How to Meet the Minimum Spend
Meeting the minimum spend requirement of $2500 for each AAdvantage Card in four months may not be a small task for many people. I’m lucky in the sense that I own a few rental properties. I met the minimum spend by charging my property taxes, insurance, inspection, and window replacement items.
For those who don’t have such high expenses, you can always purchase Visa Gift Cards and load them onto a Bluebird account for future use. Bluebird works just like a checking account/debit card. You can do a Google search on Bluebird to learn more.
After the minimum spend has been reached, you should see the points deposited into your AA Rewards account. Here’s my account:
First Deposit: CitiBusiness AAdvantage Visa Card
Second Deposit: Citi Platinum AAdvantage Visa Signature Card
Third Deposit: U.S. Airways Dividend Miles Card (I got in when special was good for 35,000 bonus points):
Once the points are available, you can book anytime you are ready. Just to give you a better understanding on how valuable these travel points really are, here’s how much a round-trip first class trip on Cathay Pacific would cost flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong:
Who wants to pay that? Especially when you can get the same end result for FREE!
My brother just returned from his trip to Bali. He took advantage of the reward points and flew first class. Even stayed at a 5 star hotel for free. Here’s what first class looks like:
There are plenty of great credit card deals out there. I recently signed up for 4 new credit cards and will do a post on those in the near future. For anyone on the path to early FI, we know how important it is to take care of our finances. However, once we actually reach early FI, we need something to look forward to as well! For me, I’m planning on traveling the world many times over. I want to roll in style, but I also don’t want to pay a fortune either. These travel reward cards make the most sense. If you are involved in real estate, it’s even better!
Travel Reward Cards + Real Estate Investing = Perfect Marriage!
I’m always going to have bills for: property taxes, insurance, repairs, inspections, etc. I might as well earn reward points for them. The more properties you own, the more points you can accumulate. Programs like these are meant to be taken advantage of. These deals may also get pulled at anytime, so it’s important to get in while you still can. The whole process shouldn’t be too difficult because anyone (with a decent credit score) can qualify.
And ultimately, here’s my motivation:
“Lifestyle design. Live the life YOU desire!”