Browsing Category

Rewards Points

Rewards Points Travel

Carmel-By-The-Sea

July 29, 2017

Last weekend Mat and I were able to go on a quick getaway to Carmel, California, also known as Carmel-By-The-Sea. It had been several weeks since we had been anywhere (last place was Palm Springs), so I was itching for another vacation. Mat, who hates the extreme heat that Boise gets in the summer, was ready for a break from having to sit directly in front of a fan 24/7 to not sweat, so he was happy to book flights to Oakland.

We both love San Francisco (it’s where we met 10+ years ago!), so it made sense to start our weekend there on Friday night. Plus, Southwest has a great flight option that allows us to work a full day on Friday and get into town early enough for dinner! So we packed our bags in Betty Lou (the name of our car) on Friday morning so we could head straight to the airport after work. We had a few minor delays getting into town, but we were still able to make our dinner reservations at The Saratoga.

Saturday we walked to a nearby bakery and picked up some breakfast and coffee, then made our way up to Twin Peaks. We were extremely lucky to get a clear day; typically it’s quite foggy in San Francisco. It was an absolutely gorgeous, sunny morning and it was so cool to see SF from this view. Our plan was to stop in Santa Cruz on the way from San Francisco to Carmel for either brunch or lunch, but we ran into the ever-dreaded California traffic. We have actually been extremely fortunate that each time we have been to California, we haven’t ever had to experience this notorious headache. We were not so lucky this time. We realize now why Californians are so drawn to Boise!

We ended up making it to Santa Cruz, but just for a brief pit stop, since we had now missed brunch and didn’t have enough time for lunch. We attempted to drive to the boardwalk, but there were sooooo many cars we would have never made it driving. We parked and walked the last mile, all while noticing that cars were backed up, bumper to bumper and not moving, in every single direction. It was nuts! We were in Huntington Beach last year for the Vans US Open and don’t remember this much car traffic. I was convinced that Santa Cruz was where Beyonce’s first outing with her twins was, because why else would everyone be there?!

We decided to keep moving to Carmel. This town looks like something you would see out of a storybook; cottages, bungalows, gardens and huge, mature trees everywhere! It’s gorgeous! It’s also quite chilly. I’m always cold, but I had to layer up with scarves and sweaters to be comfortable. Mat was absolutely loving the temperatures. This town is so cozy and romantic. We overheard a waiter say to another table that it is in the top five most romantic cities in the world. I just wanted to walk around in my cozy sweater, cuddle and drink wine all day, which is pretty much what we did. The highlight of the trip for me was buying a bottle of wine at the market, taking a blanket down to the beach and watching the sunset before our dinner reservations.

Before heading out Sunday morning, we made sure to check out Clint Eastwood’s ranch/estate, The Mission Ranch. Wow, this property is gorgeous. From what I read, the ground was set to sell to build commercialized condominiums, but the town wasn’t happy about that. Clint Eastwood (who served as Mayor of Carmel in the past) came along to save the day and bought the property. It has since been renovated to include a restaurant and lodging options, but still kept as a ranch; sheep and all!

Before flying home on Sunday, we made a stop in Monterrey for breakfast and, of course, more coffee. This town is adorable! We were intrigued with Monterrey originally because we have been watching Big Little Lies, which is filmed and based in Monterrey. We walked down Fisherman’s Wharf and watched the most adorable sea lion/otter swim just a few feet below us.

It’s amazing how many things you can see and experience in 48 hours when you aren’t stuck in a cubical. 😉

 

3 Peeps liked this so far.
Rewards Points Travel

Nearly $22k of Free Travel in 12 months

February 11, 2017

Lacey and I just did the math and realized that we redeemed nearly $22k of free travel in 12 months.  To be exact, it was $21,833.42 from February ’16 – January ’17.  Holy shit!  We traveled to some amazing places (20 different cities) and stayed in some incredible hotels along the way.  The majority of our travel expenses were either highly discounted or completely free thanks to credit card rewards points.  I can’t stress enough how easily all of you can do the same thing!

Our 12 month travel recap includes the destinations listed below.  Click the links to get more details on what we experienced in the past 12 months and how we did it for next to nothing!

While there were a number of rewards programs we used to get all of this awesome stuff, there are a few programs that gave us the most in return.  Keep in mind that we don’t get paid to promote any of these programs.  These are our genuine opinions based strictly on our personal experiences.

  1. Southwest Airlines Companion Pass –  Lacey and I have redeemed over $5,000 worth of free flights from this reward so far. This reward lets you AND your companion fly for free for up to 2 years.  Lacey and I still have all of 2017 left to use this perk and we’re going to do our best to make sure we continue earning this reward for as long as possible.  Check out how to earn the SW Companion Pass here.
  2. The Hyatt “2 Free Nights” card – link here.  After meeting the spending requirements, you’ll earn 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt property.  Lacey and I both earned this reward and used our 4 free nights at the Grand Hyatt in Aruba for an $800 per night ocean view suite.  This card also gives you 1 anniversary night per year.  Lacey and I just used our anniversary nights to book a stay on Manhattan Beach – Los Angeles.
  3. The Wyndham card – What a nice surprise this card has been!  You don’t hear much about this card on the mainstream travel blogs.  You’ll earn 45k points after hitting the spending requirement.  You can book ANY of their hotels for a flat rate of 15k points.  So out of the gate, you get 3 free nights anywhere.  We used this to book an ocean front suite on South Beach in Miami.  It was one of the best hotel experiences we’ve had so far.  More details in this post.
  4. The Hilton Honors program.  I love Hilton! They have multiple cards you can sign up for making it easy to stack points quickly.  Their customer service reps treat you like royalty when you call to book your room(s).  I’ll never forget how cool it felt to have someone say “Alright Mr. Thompson, let’s see if I can get you into our most luxurious property during your stay.”  There aren’t many occasions in life when I feel like a big shot, but the Hilton reps make me feel like that every time I talk to them.

We are so lucky to have experienced everything we did during the last 12 months.  We are very grateful that there are ways for people on a budget to get to see the world.  When there’s a will, there’s a way!  We hope to continue this pace throughout 2017 as well.  So far we’re booked through June 2017 with vacations to Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach), Maui, New York City, and Sayulita Mexico.

Let us know if you have any questions once you start planning your next vacay!

Edits and pics from our travels last year:

San Diego:

Lahaina Beach House

Gas Lamp San Diego

Giant Margarita San Diego

Houston (Final Four):

Final Four 2016 NRG Stadium Houston, TX

Final Four Custom Lanyard

This pic was on our custom lanyards that we wore around our necks.

Lacey at Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

NRG Stadium Final Four 2016

New York City:

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Freedom Tower New York City

Weekend in New York Yankee Redsox Game

Manhattan Skyline

Florence, Italy:

piazzale michelangelo florence

Scooter Tour 3 Days in Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Florence Italy downtown

Rome, Italy:

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain Rome, Italy

Italian Open Rome 2016

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Malta:

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Free Summer Vacation

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Chicago:

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend In Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Huntington Beach, CA:

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Sunset

Denver, CO:

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

Aruba:

I heart Aruba Sign

Baby Bridge Aruba

“Baby Bridge”

Flamingo Island Aruba

Rainbow Aruba

first view upon opening our window shades at the Hyatt in Aruba. Not a bad start

Curacao:

Curacao Sign

Hilton Curacao

view from our Hilton Suite in Curacao

Curacao Hilton

Willemstad Curacao

Willemstad Curacao

South Beach – Miami, FL:

South Beach Miami

South Beach, Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

view from our upgrade at the Shelborne in South Beach

South Beach Miami Henna Tattoo

 

2 Peeps liked this so far.
Rewards Points Travel

Aruba, Curacao, and South Beach Miami for free

January 29, 2017

Idaho is going through one of the coldest/snowiest winters in the past 30 years.  Snow, ice, freezing rain, slush, inversions, misery.  We had to escape it if only for a short while.  Luckily, we already had a getaway booked for January not knowing just how badly we would end up needing it.  This is kind of a funny story how it all came about actually.  Back in September, we booked this trip out of spite for the sole purpose of getting back at the Hyatt hotel brand.  Somewhat of a blessing in disguise, here is how we ended up visiting Aruba, Curacao, and South Beach Miami for free.

Last summer, Lacey and I visited Huntington Beach, CA.  You may remember our post about it here.  We ended up staying at a little Air BnB during that trip by default as Hyatt would not let us use the 4 free nights we earned from this card.  The Hyatt reps were so awful and unhelpful while I was trying to book nights at one of their $200 per night properties down there.  I felt like they were doing everything in their power to prevent me from redeeming the awards we earned.  Long story short, Hyatt pissed me off super bad and I wanted to get back at ’em for how they treated us.

Angrily, I googled “most expensive Hyatt hotel”.  At the top of the results was their resort in Aruba.  What a coincidence, Southwest Airlines flies to Aruba meaning Lacey and I could get there for free because we earned the Companion Pass.  This was our chance to stick it to Hyatt as these rooms were $600 per night.  Suck it Hyatt.  Side note, these rooms in Aruba were a challenge to book as well.  Their website would tell me there was no availability when I search for 2 or 4 consecutive nights at this resort.  Oddly, when I searched 1 night at a time it was available.  So, I ended up having to make 4 separate reservations in order to get 4 nights in a row.  Keep this in mind when you’re looking for availability on Hyatt’s website.  I’m not kidding, they do their best to prevent you from using your rewards.

While booking our flights to Aruba, I found that we could break up the trip by making stops on the island of Curacao and in South Beach Miami.  We had never been to either place and both looked amazing.  We booked a suite for a night at the amazing Hilton resort in Curacao with honors points and booked 2 nights at the Shelborne Boutique Hotel on South Beach in Miami with Wyndham reward points.  I have to mention how awesome the staff at the Shelborne resort were to us.  I emailed them prior to the trip to confirm our reservation and briefly mentioned that it was an anniversary trip.  When we checked in, they said “it looks like you are celebrating a special event with us so you have been upgraded to an ocean view penthouse suite.”  I had totally forgot that I emailed ’em about it and was a little caught off guard at first.  Then I turned to Lacey and said “happy anniversary, ha”.  If that weren’t enough, they sent us a bottle of champagne later that night.  That was pretty amazing of them and we are so grateful.

Our week-long trip was just what we needed to break up this awful winter here in Idaho.  Each place we visited was amazing for their individual reasons.  Aruba’s beautiful white sand beaches, flamingos, and iguanas made us feel like we were in a different reality.  Curacao’s tropical surroundings and heavily Dutch influenced architecture had us wishing we had more time to spend there.  The hustle and bustle of South Beach blended with the beauty and calm atmosphere at the beach had us asking each other if we were ready to move there.

One last thing to point out.  We ended up paying $25 a night to upgrade our room at the Hyatt in Aruba to an ocean front suite.  So for $100 + taxes we stayed in a room that was priced at $789 per night.  We ended up getting a value of about $3100 from our 4 reward nights.  Maybe Hyatt will rethink their customer service approach when someone is trying to book a $200 per night room next time 🙂

Total Amount of Free Flights/Hotels for this trip alone = $6,799 prior to taxes

  • Southwest Flights – $2900 (we used Southwest points and the Companion Pass to book these flights)
  • Hyatt in Aruba – $3100 (Lacey and I both signed up for this card to earn 2 free nights each)
  • Hilton in Curacao – $309 (used a combination of these cards over time to earn Hilton Honors points)
  • Shelborne Boutique Hotel on South Beach – $490 (we used Wyndham reward points from this card to book this)

Photos in Aruba –

Renaissance Island (where the Flamingos and Iguanas are)

Baby Bridge (natural arch)

Bon Bini Festival

California Lighthouse

Eagle Beach

Rainbow Aruba

first view upon opening our window shades at the Hyatt in Aruba. Not a bad start

Grand Hyatt Aruba

I heart Aruba Sign

Flamingo Island Aruba

Flamingo Island Aruba

Flamingo Island Aruba

Flamingo Island Aruba

Iguana Island Aruba

Flamingo Island Aruba

California LightHouse Aruba

California LightHouse Aruba

Coconut Drink Aruba

Aruba Panorama

Baby Bridge Aruba

“Baby Bridge”

Aruba Rock Garden

rock garden near the natural bridge

Aruba Natural Bridge

Bon Bini Aruba

at the “Bon Bini” festival

 

Photos in Curacao:

Downtown Willemstad

Hilton Curacao

Willemstad Curacao

Willemstad Curacao

Willemstad Curacao

Willemstad Curacao

Dushi Curacao

Curacao Sign

Curacao Hilton

Hilton Curacao

view from our Hilton Suite in Curacao

 

Photos in South Beach:

Shelborne Boutique Hotel

South Beach

Henna Tattoo on South Beach

South Beach, Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami Henna Tattoo

South Beach Miami Henna Tattoo

Lacey got her 1st Henna Tattoo on South Beach

South Beach Miami Henna Tattoo

South Beach Miami Henna Tattoo

South Beach Miami

view from our upgrade at the Shelborne in South Beach

2 Peeps liked this so far.
Rewards Points Travel

3 Free Hotel Nights for Your Next Trip

August 6, 2016

Many of our recent “how to get free travel” posts have been focused on earning free flights.   The reason being is that we’re currently in love with our newly acquired Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.  We booked over $4k in free flights in 3 months!  Anyways, that’s a previous story.  While free flights are a huge piece to the free travel puzzle, let’s make it complete by adding some free hotel stays.  I am going to give you really quick tip that will result in you booking 3 free hotel nights while choosing from over 7,200 locations and properties.

Before I tell you the sweet, sweet magic that will get you around $1,000 in free hotel stays I want to remind you that we do not get any sort of compensation for what I’m about to recommend.  The coolest part about our travel tips are that you can trust they’re genuine.  We aren’t trying to push a sale on you or anything like what some of the other point guy(s) 😉 often do.  All of our free travel posts are simply a reflection of what my lovely wife and I are doing to try and see the world.

That being said, Lacey and I recently booked a trip to Orlando, Aruba, Curacao, and Miami for January 2017.  Our flights were taken care of by our Southwest Companion Pass, but we still needed some free hotel stays  to make this trip doable.  We already had 4 free nights with Hyatt Hotels to use in Aruba, which is awesome, but we still didn’t want to pay out of pocket for all of the remaining nights of our trip.  After a few hours of researching I discovered…drum roll…the Wyndham rewards Visa card.

Before stumbling on Wyndham’s site via Google, I had literally never heard of their rewards program.  I usually only see updates on the same 4 hotel rewards programs over and over;  Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG.  At first glance, Wyndham’s bonus offer of 45k points didn’t seem very impressive.  In my experience, 45k points with any of the previously mentioned hotel chains would likely get you 1-2 nights at a shit hotel in a sketchy part of town.  This is not the case with Wyndham.  Every single one of Wyndham’s properties is a flat rate of 15k points per night.  Yes, this includes their most expensive properties.  No matter where you’re wanting to go, you’ll be able to book 3 nights with your 45k points.  Depending on where you book, you could save over $1,000 in free rooms with this reward.

This is how it works:

  1. Sign up for the card (here) – there is a $69 annual fee that will post on your 1st statement
  2. Use the card once and earn 30k points (posted to your account after 1 billing cycle)
  3. Spend $1,000 with this card in 90 days and earn another 15k points
  4. When your points post to your account, go shop for your hotel room at Wyndham.com3 Free Hotel Nights with Wyndham

Easy enough right?  Thanks Wyndham! 😉

Do yourself a favor and look at this list of the top Wyndham properties before booking your stay.  That’s where Lacey and I found this $330 per night resort we’ll be staying at on South Beach in Miami for free.  Spoiler alert, we’re going to put the extra money saved towards margaritas on the beach.  Sounds like a good investment to me!

Let us know if you have any questions!  Now go book a beautiful and expensive stay at a Wyndham property for free!

Huntington Beach Sunset

3 Peeps liked this so far.
Rewards Points Travel

Free Flights with Southwest Airlines

July 21, 2016

The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is the best credit card reward we have earned so far.  We booked $4,110.67 in free flights during the first 10 weeks of having the pass.  Yep, for real.  As of last Thursday, we are booked for 10 round trip flights on Southwest Airlines.  You can do the exact same thing we did.  Below you’ll find 3 simple steps to get a ton of free flights with Southwest Airlines.

If you missed our previous post on the Southwest Companion Pass, I’ll give you some quick deets right now.  To earn the pass you need to earn 110k Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a single calendar year.  Once you do, you’ll receive the Companion Pass.  The pass lasts the rest of the year in which you earn it AND the entire next year.  Now the fun begins.  You can start booking your free flights with the 110k points you earned.  When you do, you can add your companion to each one of your booked tickets for free.  It’s pretty awesome.

Here’s how you can earn the 110k points to get your Companion Pass.  While there are a few different ways you can stack these points with Southwest’s partner programs, I feel like the following route is the easiest.

  1. Sign up for the Southwest Plus card, spend $2,000 before 90 days and earn the 50k bonus points. 50k offer for the Southwest Plus Card
  2. Sign up for the Southwest Premier card, again spend $2,000 before 90 days and earn another 50k bonus points. (suggestion: wait 30 days in between sign ups)Southwes Airlined 50k Premier Card
  3. With the points earned from spending $4k and the 100k bonus points, you’ll have 104k Rapid Rewards Points.  Your final 6k points can come from some strategic spending through the Southwest Shopping portal.  The portal will link you directly back to the online store you were going to shop at anyways, but you’ll earn 3 to 10 times the points per dollar spent when you link to it through Southwest’s portal.

The lovely people at Southwest Airlines are smart and realized that people are trying to time their sign ups to earn the Companion Pass in January.  That being said, they don’t usually offer the above mentioned cards at a 50k bonus point level around that time.  These cards are available now however and if you’re interested in getting a companion pass, make it easier on yourself and sign up while they’re easy to get.  Lacey and I didn’t need anywhere near 2 years to fully utilize this reward.  We only needed 10 weeks. …and honestly that was just time spent deciding where to go.  The actual booking of the flights took an hour.  Southwest now flies to the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica, and everywhere in the United States.  Deciding on where to go is maybe the toughest part of earning the Companion Pass.

With flights taken care of for the next year or so, there is suddenly way less pressure to keep signing up for multiple credit cards for free flights.  All you’ll need to focus on now are free hotels. 🙂

Let us know if you have any questions.  We can’t wait to tell you about our upcoming trips that were made possible with the Companion Pass!

Free Flights with Southwest Airlines

Pack your bags! You’re about to get a ton of free travel!

 

3 Peeps liked this so far.
Rewards Points Travel

Go to the Final Four for $200

April 7, 2016

For as long as I can remember I’ve dreamed of going to the men’s NCAA basketball Final Four.  Maybe it’s due to the fact that these games are always crazy exciting, or maybe it’s because my dad and I always had such a good time busting each others chops over whose bracket was better.  Whatever the case, this year I was able to finally check ‘attend a Final Four’ off of my bucket list.  I’m going to tell you how you can do the same next year for $200.

I always had the impression that only super rich and famous people could afford to go to events like this.  It wasn’t until this time last year when I discovered how we could fly to the Final Four, stay in a nice hotel, and go to all 3 games for only $200 per person.  You can take the same exact steps we took to get yourself to the 2017 Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.

First things first…this year’s championship game…are you kidding me?!?!?!  Unbelievable!  I can’t tell you how lucky we feel to have experienced in-person one of the greatest championship games of all time.  The crowd absolutely exploded when Marcus Paige for North Carolina tied the game with 4 secs left.  Then the roof almost blew off when Kris Jenkins hit the game winning buzzer beater shot to win the National Championship for Villanova.  I caught both shots on video with my cell phone.  Check them out below this post.  Don’t mind all my screaming 🙂

Ok, back to how you and yours are going to go to the 2017 Final Four for $200 a person.

  1. Get your tickets
    • Go apply for the 2017 Final Four ticket lottery on the official NCAA site here.  You only have until May 31st to apply, so hurry up!  You will pay $200 per ticket in advance.  But wait Mat, that still sounds expensive.  Well, it breaks out to be $66 per game since you will get to see all 3 games of the Final Four.  Very good deal considering an average regular season game would cost $40ish per ticket.  Also, your odds of getting selected are better than you’d think.  It’s not guaranteed, but every person I know that has applied for the lottery has been selected.  If you don’t get picked, your $200 will be fully refunded, so you have nothing to lose.
  2. Get points for free flights to Phoenix
    • I’d recommend using Southwest Airlines to get to Phoenix.  They have nonstop flights to Phoenix from numerous cities.  You can use our referral link to apply for the 50k point offer on the Southwest Premium card.  The public offer is only 25k points right now.  Once you get the 50k points from this card, you should be able to book 2 round trip flights for free (depending on where you’re flying out of).  Let us know if you have any questions on how to get and use these points.
  3. Get free nights at a hotel
    • There is currently a 100k point bonus offer for the Hilton Surpass card.  This offer is being referred to as Hilton’s “best offer ever”.  With these points, you could book your free stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Phoenix which is right down the road from the location of the 2017 Final Four.  (we’re not getting compensated for promoting this card…it’s just a rad offer that we recommend).

So there you have it, by signing up for the ticket lottery and the 2 credit cards mentioned above, you should be well on your way to the 2017 NCAA Final Four.  Lacey and I would definitely recommend attending! Not only are the games themselves awesome, but all of the free festivities outside of the games are tons of fun as well!  Check out the pics and vids below from our trip last weekend to the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Rental Car Houston, TX

NRG Stadium Parking lot Final Four 2016

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest BareNaked Ladies

The Barenaked Ladies performed outside the stadium during Fan Fest.

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Lacey at Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest Ferris Wheel

Ferris wheels are always more fun than we think they’re going to be.

Downtown Houston, TX

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Ticket Line Final Four 2016

NRG Stadium Final Four 2016

Lacey watching Final Four 2016 game

Final Four Custom Lanyard

This pic was on our custom lanyards that we wore around our necks.

 

 

3 Peeps liked this so far.
Rewards Points Travel

Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. The Golden Ticket!

March 27, 2016

I know Lacey and I are relatively new travelers, but I still can’t believe that we just recently found out about what I am now calling the Golden Ticket for couple’s travel.  A ticket so magical that not only will you have 110k miles to use yourself for free travel, but you will also be able to book a free flight for your travel companion at no extra cost EACH TIME you book a flight for yourself…drum roll…for up to 2 YEARS!!!  Yeah, you need to check this out.

The Golden Ticket is actually the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.  Earning this reward is a bit tricky but it IS doable and it will be worth every bit of effort you put into it.  You will be eligible for this perk after completing 100 Southwest flights in a single year (which no one will do), OR by earning 110k Southwest Airlines miles in a single calendar year (which I’ll tell ya how to do).  Once you qualify for the companion pass, you will be able to book a free flight for your wife, husband, buddy, or whoever you deem as your “companion” for the rest of the year in which you earn the pass AND the entire next year.  Pretty huge right?

Southwest's Golden Ticket for Couples Travel

So here’s how you can earn the pass…

Assuming you won’t take 100 Southwest flights in a year to earn the pass, you’ll need to sign up for at least 2 of Southwest Airline’s credit cards at a 50k points offer for each card.  By going this route, you’ll be on your way to 104k points in no time (50k for each card + the points earned from the spending requirements).

As you can see here, Southwest’s public offer is only 25k points for both of the personal cards right now.  Don’t worry, there are still ways you can get 50k points for each of these cards.

For the Southwest Premier (personal) card, send us your email address and I’ll personally send you a referral that will allow you to sign up for the 50k card.  Send your email address to contact@ditchingnormal.com and we’ll send it your way! Sometimes it takes a couple of days, but nonetheless, you’ll get it!

For the Southwest Plus card 50k offer, UPDATED: we now have a referral link to this card! Here is our referral link to the 50k Southwest Plus card.  it’ll be a little trickier.  Since we don’t have the offer to email you for this one, you’ll have to find someone that does.  However, people are stoked to give out referrals to this as they will receive some bonus miles when you sign up.  Here is a site where people seem to be constantly posting referrals for this card.  Just scroll down to the comments on that site and make sure to look for people that have the 50k offer for the “Plus” card.  …this is actually how we received the 50k offer for this card.

So there ya go, you’re like 98% of the way there.  But wait, what about the other 6k points you need? While you can sign up for the Marriott card or Hyatt’s card, receive their bonus points and transfer them into your Southwest account, I don’t think this is the best way to go about it. What Lacey and I did was utilize Southwest’s online shopping portal.  You can quickly earn tons of extra points just by linking through their portal and shopping for stuff you were going to buy anyways.  We got an extra 5,500 points in 2 weeks by linking through the shopping portal to do our taxes and then to purchase a couple of other things for our bedroom at a 6 points per $1 spent offer.

Wrapping up, this is by far the best rewards offer that I am aware of at this point.  Depending on how much you utilize the Companion Pass once earned, it could be worth thousands of dollars in free flights.  Just think, all of your flights will be taken care of for up to 2 years!  You can switch your reward travel focus to only hotel points for a bit.

Some initial questions you might have…

Do I get to keep and use the 110k points I earned once I receive the Companion Pass? – YES!

Can I book my companion’s free flight even when I am booking my own flight with my points? – YES!

Can I use my companion pass with more than 1 companion? – YES! You can change your companion’s name up to 3 times.

Can I sign up for both credit cards at the same time? – from what I’ve researched, more often than not, it won’t work.  I would recommend waiting at least 30 days in between applications.  Keep in mind that Chase bank will no longer approve you if you have received 5 new credit cards in the past 24 months.

Southwest's Golden Ticket for Couples Travel

Southwest flies to some international spots now!

 

Best of luck everyone! Hit us up with any questions and if you’d like to receive the 50k Southwest Premier card referral!

We’re going to use our companion pass to get back to Cabo this fall!

Mat and Lacey Ocean DitchingNormal

1 Liked this post
Rewards Points Travel

Points Planning for Maui Part 2

February 21, 2016

It’s time to follow up on our initial Points Planning for Maui post! To recap our progress so far, both Lacey and I signed up for the Chase Hyatt card and received the “2 free nights” reward.  So right now, we have 4 free nights ready to use for Maui (hopefully to be used at the Hyatt Andaz resort).  So while we’re still going to work on getting a couple more nights for free in Maui, we’re going to shift  our focus toward earning our free flights for this trip. Here’s why…

I’ll start off by sharing a very valuable tip that I’ve learned with credit card rewards programs. …they have targeted offers.  This means that the rewards program might randomly email you or snail mail you a reward offer that is more valuable than any other offer that is available to the general public.  Sometimes these targeted offers will literally pop-up when you login to your online account.  My advice for you is to create an online account for every reward program you may ever use.  Even if you aren’t planning on signing up for the program’s card right away, you’re putting yourself in a good position to be possibly targeted for a bad ass offer down the road.

So the next time you’re browsing your favorite points travel sites/blogs, keep in mind that the offers you see on these sites MAY NOT be the best available offer.  You might find a public offer of 35k bonus miles and think that’s the only option, but if you create an online account for that card, you just might be targeted for a higher bonus offer.

Why am I telling all of you this? Well, this very thing just happened to me.  On January 29th, I created an online account for United Airlines “Mileage Plus Explorer” program.  The current public offer for their credit card is only 30k bonus miles.  Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!  Just yesterday, not even a month after creating my Mileage Plus account, I received a snail mail targeted offer for 50k miles. Yay!

Points Planning for Maui offer

You can see that I initially tore this in half and almost threw it away.

Right away, I had a hunch that 50k bonus miles would get us from Boise to Maui.  When I double checked, I found the below flights on United’s website. Looks like if Lacey and I both sign up and receive this reward, we can get to Maui for 45k miles and $11.20 each.  So if all goes well, this is how we’ll get our flights.  Dropping a $20 spot, instead of the $1400+ it would cost if we were to pay in full, seems like a pretty fair swap 🙂

Points Planning for Maui Flights

Right now you might be saying, “well that’s cool for you guys, but what am I gonna do?  I didn’t receive the 50k targeted United offer.”  My response to that is for you to hop on United’s site right when you finish reading this post and create an account.  It took less than a month for me to receive the targeted offer and I’ve heard and read stories of people getting the targeted 50k mile offer right after creating an account.

Another great option right now is the American Airlines 50k bonus offer at this link.  Make sure to go to aa.com first and look up flights from your airport to Maui (or wherever you want to go) and make sure 50k miles will cover your trip.  I did a quick browse and saw that the 50k AA bonus would get me to Maui as easily as United.  Lacey and I already received that bonus in the past (which we’re using for this trip) so we can’t sign up for it again.

So hopefully you now have a couple of solid options to get your free flights.  Keep in mind that the American Airlines offer is a limited time offer.  It could expire at any time.  If you think this is the card for you…jump on it now.  Also, the United Mileage card is sponsored by Chase Bank.  Chase Bank is implementing a new rule starting in April that will prevent anyone who has signed up for 5+ credit cards in the past 24 months from being approved for any more Chase cards.  This is a huge deal to all the points travelers of the world.  You can read more on this topic from one of our favorite travel blogs here.

I’ll post another update in a couple months to let you know how we’re progressing with the Maui trip.  Like I said earlier, we’re still shooting for another 1-2 free hotel nights for this trip so I’ll keep you posted when we figure out how we’re going to make that happen.

You all should have a good plan by now for how you’re going to do this trip, but please reach out to us if you have any questions.

Good Luck!

 

Below are a couple pics from our last trip to Hawaii about 7 years ago…just a couple of crazy kids fallin’ in love 🙂

Lacey in the ocean

Ice cream in Kona

Falling in Love in Hawaii

Sick hat bro! …in my defense, Jason Mraz was really popular back then.

1 Liked this post
Rewards Points Travel

San Diego for Rihanna. Rewards Flight in 12 Days

January 31, 2016

A few weeks ago, Lacey told me that she really wanted to go to San Diego to see an upcoming Rihanna concert.  Being that we just used all of our flight and hotel rewards points to book our Final Four and Malta trips, I didn’t think this would be possible on such short notice.  My initial response to Lacey was “I’m sorry, we just can’t afford it right now.”  A day or two later I realized what an asshole response that was since I hadn’t even investigated our potential rewards options yet.

Rather than spending time on my acceptance speech for the shittiest husband of the year award, I decided to hop on the computer and see if there was any way to make this trip happen.  After all, Lacey was amazing enough to let us use some of our rewards points and cash on our upcoming trip to Houston for the Final Four, so I needed to do my absolute best to return the favor.  I began searching for any rewards programs that might help us get to San Diego for free or at a discount.  Not kidding, it took me less than 10 minutes to find an option that would get us round trip flights from Boise to San Diego for $87 ($75 sign up fee and $12 taxes and fees while booking the flights).  More importantly, this option was doable on short notice.

Below is the process I used to help us save over $400 on flights which ultimately made this trip possible for us…

…oh and spoiler alert, at the end of this post is a video of Lacey dancing to Rihanna on Halloween last year.

As usual, I started with Google.  I typed in “Boise to San Diego Flights”.  The returning results let me know which airlines we could use (Alaska, American Airlines, United, and Delta).  I noticed that Alaska Airlines offers a non-stop flight, so I immediately Googled “Alaska Airlines Rewards Program”.  I was looking for the current Alaska Airlines credit card offer and for the booking section on Alaska’s site that would show me if there were available flights on the dates we needed, and if so, how many rewards miles we’d need to book ’em.

I found that the current rewards offer for this card is 25k miles “upon approval”.  That’s amazing! More often than not, rewards cards like this have spending requirements that can takes 2-3 months to achieve.  This card gives you the points “in 2-3 weeks” following your application approval.  Perfect for a short notice trip!

Alaska Airlines Rewards Card

While snooping in the booking section on Alaska’s site, I found that there were round trip flights Boise-San Diego on the dates we needed that cost exactly 25k bonus miles.  Heyo!  I immediately submitted our applications for this rewards card.

Alaska Airlines Boise to San Diego Rewards Options

We received the bonus points in 12 days and were able to book our highly discounted flights for $12.  Again, the sign up fee for this card is $75, so our total cost is $87 for these flights.  Still a lot better than the $500-ish we would have paid for full price tickets.  We used the extra money saved on these flights to get some pretty decent seats for the Rihanna concert.

To keep the rest of the trip budget friendly, we’ll be staying at the Hampton Inn near the Gaslamp district.  Why this hotel? I know it doesn’t sound super luxurious, but it has an airport shuttle, free hot breakfast, and is super close to the public transport station that we’ll be taking to the concert.  This hotel is also within walking distance of all the restaurants and bars we’re hoping to check out. All of these perks combined will likely save us another $200-$300 on our trip.

So it looks like we’ll “shine bright like a diamond” with Rihanna in a few weeks down in San Diego.  Hopefully the weather is beautiful and we won’t need to take an umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay.  …I’m such a dork sometimes I make myself want to hide under a table.

Hopefully you found this useful and can use the process outlined above to book your own vacay on short notice.  For more tips and options, check our previous post relating to this subject here.

We’ll see you soon San Diego!

As promised, an awesome video of Lacey Killing it to Rihanna on Halloween last year.  …dressed as a Day of the Dead.

3 Peeps liked this so far.
Rewards Points Travel

How to Book a Free Vacation on Short Notice

January 21, 2016

Most of our “traveling for free with credit card rewards points” posts so far have focused on getting BIG trips for free.  Trips that take months of planning and spending with various cards to achieve.  Well what if you can’t wait that long? What if you want to get a free vacation on short notice? Spoiler alert…you can.

I’ve spent the last few weeks researching this topic as Lacey and I are trying to squeeze in another quick vacay before our upcoming trip in April to see the Final Four.  The weather in Boise can be pretty gnarley in February, so it would be perfect timing to go somewhere warmer for a couple days.  That being said, we don’t have a lot of extra cash laying around right now.  The only way we’ll be able to book a trip for February is if it is either free or at least highly discounted.

Here are some options I came up with during my snooping around that I wanted to share with you guys.  Hopefully this helps you guys get an idea of how you could book a trip of your own in just a few weeks!

Get a super cheap flight in about 2 weeks:

Apply for the Alaska Airlines credit card (25k miles for signing up and paying the $75 sign up fee)

  • You can book your rewards flight about 2 weeks after you get approved for the card.
  • Alaska partners with a bunch of different airlines which results in a ton of travel options within the U.S
  • In just a couple weeks, you could be flying to sunny Florida (for example) for about $100 (sign up fee and taxes).  …which would cost us about $450 normally from Boise

Alaska Airlines Free Vacation

Get a couple nights free at a hotel in 4-5 weeks:

Apply for the Chase Hyatt Credit Card and you’ll be ready to redeem your 2 free rewards nights in about 4-5 weeks (if you hit the $1000) spending requirement.

  • The Hyatt has a ton of beautiful properties around the world where you can redeem this reward.
  • The super lower spending requirement makes it easy to get the reward bonus quickly
  • $0 sign up fee for the first year.  It’s $75 per year after that but they give you a free night every year on your sign-up anniversary.
Hyatt Park City

The beautifulPark City Hyatt. Image from expedia.com

Cover Additional Vacation Expenses with Points

Apply for the Capital One Venture Card and take it with you on your trip.  You will be able to use the reward points you earn from this card to pay for many of your additional expenses on your trip.  You can wipe out up to $400 dollars of expenses with the 40k bonus points you’ll receive after hitting the spending requirement.

Capital One Venture Card Info

Details on how you can redeem you Capital One Venture rewards

 

While I know there are numerous other ways to book a free/discounted trip on short notice, hopefully the info I shared above will at least get your wheels turning.  You CAN book a trip with points on relatively short notice.  The next time you get that “I gotta get outta here for a few days” feeling, remember that you can do it…soon…with points!

Lacey and I will keep  you posted on where we end up going in February.  It’ll likely be somewhere sunny!

Please share any additional questions or tips you may have!

Lacey Grand Solmar Cabo

3 Peeps liked this so far.