(or anywhere you want to go)
Being a travel hacker, I’m always on the lookout to save on travel. Last year I wrote about how using reward points with my Venture card netted me and my family of four a free flight to St. Thomas for the Christmas holiday. July this year, my wife and I will be flying to the Bahamas for free using our Capital One Venture miles we’ve accrued since that trip.
Every time I take a trip, I try to use my miles for my flight. I also try to earn more points when I travel. We plan on staying at Breezes in the Bahamas and I went through hotels.com to book my room and I got points from mypoints.com where I have been accumulating points to go towards an American Airlines certificate (also earned 2 points for every dollar by using my Venture card). Always be earning points. You can even double dip when earning points.
Let me back up and tell you how I got here.
I first started in the points game in 2017 when I got the United MileagePlus card and used the points I earned (50,000 miles bonus) to fly me and my family to Cancun, Mexico for spring break. In 2018 I got my Venture reward card because they were offering 50,000 bonus points (equal to $500) if you signed up and met the minimum spending requirement ($3K in 3 months). I use a technique where I now use my credit card for all the expenses. The main caveat being you have to pay off all of your charges by the end of the month to keep from accruing interest. If you have a lot of bills, as some people do, you can build up points rather quickly. I use it for grocery shopping, getting gas, most of the everyday expenses. There are even opportunities for big-spending like when I paid for my son’s college tuition and I’ve made the most out of bad situations like car repairs. A $1500 bill can net you 3K points. Always be earning. The Venture card pays 2 points for every dollar spent on all transactions.
There are other ways to earn points because cards like Venture have partnerships with other businesses. One that I have taken advantage of twice now, was the promotion they had with Hotels.com. You would receive 10x points if you booked through the site hotels.com/venture (promotion no longer active). I travel every year around Christmas and for 2018 I used my Venture card to book at a resort in Bermuda and got awarded over 26K points. Those points went to our next Christmas trip in 2019 to St. Thomas where, once again, I used Hotels.com to book my room. We were award over 16k points. These points went to cover almost a third of the points for the Bahamas. Remember, I’ve been earning points pretty much every day and I had enough to pay completely for our flight to the Bahamas.
I tend to use Google Flights and Skyscanner to find flight prices. Once I find what I like, I go to Capital One’s website and use their search engine to find the price or very close to it. Usually, I can find what I’m looking for. Even if you don’t have enough miles to cover the total cost, Venture will show you a combination of points and money.
We used 67,830 miles to pay for two roundtrip tickets. Every 10K points are equivalent to $100. We effectively saved $678.30 which scored us a free flight. Depending on your situation, you can earn yourself a free flight every year. There are also credit cards where you can earn points towards hotel stays. We now have the Marriott Bonvoy card and currently have over 100K points and looking to see how and where to best use them. I’ve even written how you can have a completely free vacation, fight and hotel using points, every year.
We’re still in the first quarter of 2020 and I have two trips lined up. Panama in June (group trip with Funky Good Time Travel Club) and the Bahamas in July (my sister-in-law’s birthday). I’m in the process of figuring out where our annual Christmas trip will be. I am looking at flights and I will choose the best deal and hopefully, by then I will have built my Venture points back up enough to purchase the flight or use them to upgrade. I still have the option of using my Bonvoy points at Christmas. Maybe I’ll use them to go someplace driveable like Ocean City, Maryland and get a free stay and continue to build up my miles with Venture. I’ve been considering going back to Miami soon and I’ve been watching flights get as low as $120. So many possibilities and I enjoy searching for them.
This saga began with using my United MileagePlus points to fly to Mexico. It has evolved into a full-blown obsession to find the best price on flights and using my miles to fly for free. Panama in June and Bahamas in July. After that, who knows. The sky is the limit. This is what vacation mode is about. Escaping the #9to5Matrix as often as possible by traveling the world.
Until the next episode… always be earning points.