Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t like to travel for free? For many folks out there, travel provides an escape from reality. Many of us may like to take advantage of days off from work to get away. However, the drawback to travel is that, depending on where you go, travel can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be!
How To Travel For Free
Enter the era of rewards credit cards (at least in the US). Some companies will offer some pretty great rewards to get you to sign up for their cards. One of the best in my opinion is the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard.
There is a reason why this card is one of the most commonly touted by notable news sources (like Money magazine) as well as personal finance bloggers like me as being one of the best rewards credit cards out there. When you sign up and spend $3000 within the first 90 days, you receive $400 in rewards. In addition, when you spend your $400 in rewards for travel, you actually receive 10% back. This means that the total value of signup rewards for this card is $440!! That’s hard to beat, folks.
There are two card options that allow you to earn either 20,000 (the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard – Earn 1x on all purchases) or 40,000 bonus miles (the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard – Earn 2x on all purchases). There will be more of these details with the full review of this card that will be published on this site later this month. The hubs and I signed up for the second version of the card, where you can earn 2x points on all purchases. This version also carries an annual fee of $89, but it is waived for the first year. So if you wish you may close the card before the year is up to avoid the annual fee.
Redeeming Awesome Credit Card Rewards
So far the hubs and I have had this card for just a few months and we have already gotten a free rental car (5 days) and three free nights in a hotel. We actually travel quite a bit for business and work and we like to travel for fun whenever we can. The rental car was used for a five night trip to a friend’s cabin in the mountains when we needed a four wheel drive vehicle to navigate an unpaved (and unplowed) snowy mountain road. The bill for five nights of a rented SUV came to just over $400, which was neatly covered by the sign-up bonus of $400 from the Barclaycard.
A few weeks later we met friends in Des Moines for an event and stayed one night in a hotel downtown. Total hotel bill= $100. Total cost to us? Nothing! Again we redeemed rewards from the Barclaycard and received 10% rewards back.
A few weeks later we drove to North Dakota for business and spent two nights at a guest ranch (do we travel to awesome places in the middle of winter or what???!!) The total bill was $200. Again, cost to us= nothing! Again we are redeeming rewards from the Barclaycard. We also kept all the receipts from that trip and will get to write it off our taxes since it was for business.
So what was our total spending on the card to rack up this level of rewards? Well, it took $3000 to earn the signup bonus, which was worth $440. We spent another $3000 to earn the extra $60 in rewards to cover the rest of the hotel stay in Des Moines. Then it took another $9,500 in spending to earn the $190 in rewards for the hotel in North Dakota (since we earned the equivalent of $10 cash/miles back from the previous $100 hotel stay miles redemption).
Thankfully this is not our regular spending peeps! Spending has been up lately because we are anticipating hopefully adopting a baby soon. So we recently actually purchased a new-to-us vehicle (wouldn’t do to be driving a baby around in one of the crap mobiles) and managed to talk the dealership into letting us put $6000 of the purchase price on a credit card so we could earn the rewards points. Don’t worry; we paid it off right away!
To Close or Not to Close?
I suppose that many experienced churners would suggest that we close the card at this point and move on to the next rewards credit card. But we are actually contemplating keeping this card even after the year is up and the annual fee kicks in. We travel a lot for our fledgling business and for work (we’re actually in the Caribbean for hubby’s work as I write this), and we think it will be pretty freakin’ cool to get to use a travel rewards card like this to rack up rewards and yet still get reimbursed for expenses by his employer.
We will probably sign up for some more rewards cards in the future to earn more killer signup rewards. Right now we are eyeing the Starwood Preferred Guest card and the Hawaiian Airlines card, although with a potential infant adoption on the horizon we are not sure how much our travel habits may change in the coming months (and I think a lot of earned credit card rewards have to be redeemed within a certain amount of time like a year). That’s why we haven’t yet moved on to another card. But if we are lucky enough to become parents soon we are anticipating that expenses will go up, so that’s as good a reason as any to sign up for another rewards card. 🙂
Disclaimer: It goes without saying that if you don’t pay your credit card bill in full every month, you’re not going to come out ahead in the credit card rewards game, folks! So this is probably not for you if credit card debt is something that you struggle with.
What do you think? What has been your experience with churning credit cards for rewards?