Just wanted to start off by saying Happy New Year! A new year means new plans, new travel, and new places to see. For all my travellers out there, where are you heading this year? How will you get there? Can you do it for free? Hmmmm! So much to think about!
Over the past couple years, thanks to some guidance from some close friends, we’ve stepped up our point game. Now that the work has been put in we can enjoy the benefits. Not saying that you ever stop the point game, but after racking up enough points and reaching certain status levels, you sit back and enjoy them.
What do you want?
The points game all starts with a goal in mind. What do you want? Where do you want to go? If you have an idea of places you want to visit, then you work backwards and figure out how many points it takes to get there.
Loyalty pays. Choose an airline, hotel brand, even a car rental company. All rewards cards or memberships reward loyalty. For us, we find that Marriott branded hotels offer some of the greatest benefits (although they were better), and they are somewhat easier to obtain. After recently becoming a Titanium Bonvoy member at Marriott Hotels, we are able to take advantage of benefits like: free breakfast, suite upgrades, late checkout (4pm), and some other goodies. Now you may be thinking, oh great free breakfast (eye roll), but if you travel enough, free breakfast at some hotels could save you roughly 40-80 USD per person per day. Yikes! And at places such as the St.Regis Maldives, you don’t have very many options to eat.
Oh here’s the catch, you say! No catch here, using credit cards is most likely something you do daily, but why not use it to your benefit. In Canada, there aren’t that many options for rewards cards as our neighbours to the south, but we get by. In my opinion American Express is your best bet. They’ve got a wide variety of options and have descent sign up bonuses to give you a head start.
For example, if you started with the Amex Gold card, after a $1,500 spend amount, you would receive 25,000 points. If you transferred those to Aeroplan miles you could fly short-haul for free (plus a bit of tax). For hotels, since we only stay at Marriott hotels, I would recommend the Amex Bonvoy Card. After a $3,000 spend, you receive 51,000 points, enough for a two night stay at a category 4 property.
This is where points go to die. Planning is so important. You have to remember that you aren’t the only one booking travel using points. So you have to be very flexible and book ahead. To get the most out of your points, sometimes that means booking your trip 6-9 months ahead. And also remember there are many routes to get to one place. Explore and get creative with your routing.
Don’t Over Spend
Remember the key to this game is to save money. Getting extra credit cards doesn’t give you free money to spend. Don’t over extend yourself to make the spend amounts. Instead, try plan your credit card around a particular expense. Sometimes it may even be worth it to use services like Plastiq, they are a service that allow to use credit cards to pay for stuff that don’t normally accept them, like property taxes or income taxes.
Alright guys, that’s all I got for now. If you have any questions or comments about travel rewards or just want to chat the shit, send me a DM or drop a comment below.