All of our Sunday Success Stories serve as a living example that all of us average Americans can, indeed, see the world at prices we all can afford. We can do this by working together and sharing our stories. Send your story to me at email@example.com. Include your first name and last initial, along with your occupation and a photo, if you wish. - Rick
I’ve been a follower of your blog ever since I read about Steve Kamb’s amazing 8-month trip around the world and how your blog helped him to realize his dream. I became an instant convert, wading into your archive of past posts and buying a copy of your book. When I got into the game I had only vague ideas about where my points would take me. I’m an outdoor educator, which, to anyone unfamiliar, means that I a) work a sporadic and often unpredictable schedule throughout the year and b) I don’t make much money doing it. Consequently, I don’t travel often and I can’t rack up points through high spending. I started targeting a few cards with low initial spends and waived first-year fees, but again, without much of a goal other than piling up the miles & points.
Last December, however, I finally found an objective to work towards. My brother announced to our family that he had just gotten engaged to his girlfriend. He had proposed on their 3-year anniversary and, after some discussion, they decided to have the ceremony in September (two weeks ago). They settled on having the ceremony and reception in the town where she grew up and where her mother still lives. The town is a smallish rural community, located 1 ½ hours north of Durban, South Africa. Talk about a destination wedding! The flight, from Wyoming to South Africa, would have set me back at least $2,800. I finally had a target for my miles and points.
Combining miles from the Chase Sapphire card, and the Continental OnePass card, I was able to pick up a ticket from United for 100,000 miles and just over $100 in taxes and fees. I had designs on a business class seat, but after only being able to secure “mixed class” flights from United, I settled for coach. I know you’re a big proponent of splurging on the ‘big chair’, but my 5′ 10″ frame is perfectly fine with putting up with a coach seat if it means doubling my return on miles.
Now, this was my brother’s wedding and I would have come up with the money for the plane ticket somehow, even if it meant selling pints of my blood on the black market. Being able to finance the whole thing with credit card bonuses, however, meant I actually had some money to spend on his bachelor party and wedding gift. The wedding itself was a blast and I had a great time visiting a new country, but it wasn’t my only success story from the past eighteen months. I also managed to visit friends in Seattle, explore Hawaii, and attend my brother’s bachelor party in Chicago, all booked with miles. A $500 Bump on American Airlines also paid for a trip to visit friends in Nicaragua. In short, thanks to your blog, I’ve been able to reconnect with family and friends all over the world and I’m continuing to preach the gospel. I even got my parents into the game, who managed to pay for their flights to South Africa using miles…and a little help from their Chase Sapphire cards.