New Zealand Coast Line by Andrew Ingersoll
Here’s my success story, rather two success stories. One is a little more extravagant than the other. Both my goals on these trips were to travel for as close to a $0 balance as possible. I am HH Diamond, SPG Platinum, Choice Gold, Marriott Gold but currently have no status with the airlines. I use status perks whenever possible and always communicate by email or phone before hotel arrival communicating with management trying to secure the best room I can. All my points were earned by signup bonuses, promo’s, and spend and occasionally by actually flying and staying at hotels.
I do not travel for a living but my wife and I have current balances of over 2.75 million points and miles collectively in various programs by following the tips and advice found in this and other travel blogs and websites. I do not pay annual fees for any card unless the value of the bonus received IMO exceeds the fee.
As I have communicated to Rick in the past, I consider this a serious hobby comparable to gardening, only my harvest is travel rather than produce or flowers. Lots of people think I’m nut’s (sometimes even my wife, though she DOES enjoy the trips and perks) until they see where I go and the means I use to get there. Then they want to know how to do it. It really is easy once you decide you want to get serious.
Last year I did a one week whirlwind tour to Germany to attend the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany. I did 2 Delta First(business) class plus 2 coach class tickets (I invited my brother-in-law and his wife) for points plus around $400.00 in fees. I spent another $450.00 by renting a BMW X5 from Sixt with CDW and unlimited miles included. The first 3 nights were spent just outside Salzburg at the SPG Schloss Fuschl Hotel with a tower suite upgrade using points. Since I had a load of SPG points to burn, I also opted for using points to pay for all of our breakfasts. At check-out I received a bill for $0. The room included a free minibar with drinks including beer and a small bottle of wine and free valet parking. The mini bar was replenished daily.
From there we spent 2 nights in Oberammergau, Germany, with our accommodations at the Choice hotel offering in nearby Garmisch-Partenkirchen again using points for a checkout rate of $0. From there it was back to Munich Airport to turn in our rental car and a quick train ride to the Munich City Hilton for 2 nights accommodations using points for our stay. Again my checkout was $0. I even emailed the hotel manager ahead of arrival to request complimentary breakfast in the main restaurant instead of in the lounge, a practice they have discontinued, and I was granted access due to my stays from the past. This is perhaps one of the better hotel spreads offered anywhere. All my rooms included breakfast and free Wi-Fi. The Hilton also included lounge access so we could have snacks and drinks in the evening no charge. Other than food and discretionary expenses, this trip cost me $900.00 total for 4 persons if I take the train into Munich center into cost considerations, otherwise $850.00 all in. If I did the arithmetic correctly, this trip would have been $6,500.00 just for the airfare alone. Include the A-1 hotels we stayed in and you easily have an $11,000 trip for 4 persons using their room prices at check-in. It’s hard to beat Europe for less than 10 cents on the dollar using points and miles!
This year my wife wanted to do a Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House on the Prairie” tour so were heading to Sioux Falls, SD for vacation. I used BA points from the 100,000 mile bonus Chase credit card bonus ( we both signed up for a family account so over 200,000 miles to burn) to secure two round trip AA tickets from Boston to Sioux Falls with a stopover in Cleveland (she’s into Amish lifestyles and there’s a large community just south of Cleveland) for 75,000 miles plus $60.00. While in South Dakota we will also be traveling across state to see Mount Rushmore and into Minnesota to see another Little House site in Mankato. I will again burn points for my hotel stays, all of which include free breakfasts and Wi-Fi. Were splurging on a Caddy for $295.00 taxes and fees included in S.D. using AAA membership discount and a coupon and using my AMEX card to secure the LDW on the vehicle at $29.00 for the entire rental. This insurance is primary.
The rental car rate I received in Cleveland is $50.00 for 2 days total for a full size car. I will use my Chase card for the complimentary LDW by declining the rental car insurance. I’ll also check Hotwire for car rental rates the day before we land at both destinations to make sure there aren’t any better deals that sometimes open up. All in, this 9 day trip will cost me $425.00 for air transportation, rental car and accommodations.
I believe these trips fit the category: seeing the world at prices we can afford. Thanks Rick for the tips and advice and helping make all this possible.
Bill from MaineBill is one of the real success stories of this blog. We communicate often and Bill is constantly making blog suggestions and offering promotion tips. I really appreciate all that Bill does for all of us. Thanks Bill and Congrats on the freebies.My New Credit Scores after the Applications
I applied on June 21st and my scores were 852, 862 and 814. They are now 855, 878 and 816 with the biggest jump up coming in Experian where 4 inquiries were added although I only applied for three cards pulled by Experian. I’m up to a whopping 19 inquiries with Experian in the last two years. I have two fall off in August and then a few more in October and November. I expect these scores to drop a little when the new card accounts open, but you can see the inquiries themselves have not had an effect yet. Bank of America, American Express and Citi all checked using Experian and Chase used Equifax here in South Carolina.
25,000 MR Points, $200 Airline Incidental Credits, 1 Year Lounge Access