I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you have probably read more than a couple posts about how to save money on travel. I’m also going to guess that many of these posts were filled with tips such as “travel on weekdays,” “skip hotels and stay in hostels”, and the classic “don’t check a bag.”
As if saving $50 in checked bag fees will make the difference between taking a trip or not! Today’s article is going to be different.
I’m going to make you two promises:
1) I will not be sharing any cliché tips that save you $20 here and there
2) This article will save you at least 3x more than the tips shared in any other travel article you’ve ever read
In fact today’s article is almost guaranteed to save you $500 with ~5 minutes of work. And no, it does not involve any tactics that will lead you to be featured on the next season of Locked Up Abroad.
It involves the use of credit card rewards —and one card in particular that you’ve probably heard of.
We’ll talk about that card in a second. But first let’s discuss that repulsive feeling you probably just experienced when I said “credit card rewards.”
Credit cards have a stigma about them in our country, and deservedly so. Many of us have been taught from a young age that credit cards are the root of all evil and will inevitably lead to a life of debt and despair.
Parent’s and financial “experts” dole out all kinds of advice these days … “Don’t ever open one (unless you want to save 15% on your department store purchase of course), don’t check your credit because doing so will harm your score, and don’t even carry one in your wallet.”
While they share this advice with good intentions, it does not make this advice any less terrible for most people. Using credit cards responsibly will dramatically improve your credit score, provide you with benefits like fraud protection and price matching, and potentially save you quite a bit of money on travel.
And while those other perks are great, today we are going to focus on those travel savings.
Back to the aforementioned credit card.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 3 years you have probably seen Jennifer Garner on TV promoting the Capital One Venture Card. Double miles on every purchase and all that jazz. Which is great, but that’s not the best feature of this card.
The best feature of the Capital One Venture Card is that it comes with a signup bonus of 50,000 miles (at the time of writing) after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
These miles can be used to erase any travel purchase made within 90 days at a value of 1 cent per mile.
So a $317 plane ticket to LA can be erased with 31,700 points, a $28 Uber to your favorite bar can be erased with 2,800 points, etc. You get the point (corny pun intended).
Like I mentioned, this works for any travel purchase. Airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, you name it. Doesn’t matter when you are traveling or which airline/hotel/etc. you book with. Simply pay with your Venture Card and you are good to go.
Which means the 50,000 bonus points are essentially a $500 gift card that works for any form of travel. And because the points can erase any travel purchase made in the past 90 days, you benefit from these points even before you earn them.
Here’s how you can easily save $500 on your next trip:
- Apply for a Capital One Venture Card (Note: look for the 50,000 point bonus)
- Use the Capital One Venture Card to pay for your next trip
- Continue to use the Venture Card for any other regular spending until you hit the $3,000 minimum spending requirement (groceries, gas, utilities, bar tabs, etc.)
- Redeem the 50,000+ bonus points to erase $500+ of your travel expenses
- Optional: Jump for joy because you just saved ~$500 with less than 5 minutes of work.
It’s that simple.
And because the Capital One Venture card waives the $95 annual fee for the first year, you could simply close the card within 12 months of opening it to avoid the fee. Believe it or not, this will have little to no negative effect on your credit score.
It’s the same logic your parents use when they open a Gap credit card to save 15% on their purchase. But instead of saving 15% on a $40 pair of pants, you are saving $500 on a sweet vacation.
So what’s the catch?
The catch is that Capital One (and any other credit card company that offers a signup bonus) is betting on the fact that you will end up overspending on your new card and paying boatloads of interest and fees over the course of your lifetime. So be very careful not to let your new card change your spending habits.
At this point you might be asking yourself “What would stop me from doing this with other credit cards as well? Couldn’t I continually take advantage of credit card bonuses to score a ton of free trips?”
The answer is yes. And doing so would mean you would be joining a community of thousands of other people who do just that.
Welcome to the wonderful world of points and miles.