Travel Hacking FAQ

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Using credit card points and miles to offset the cost of travel.

  • Best for people with a credit score over 700 (ideally 750)
  • Organized people who pay their card balances in full & on time each month
  • People who love to travel

The most common strategy is… sign up for a new credit card {with a large sign up bonus that makes sense for your goals}, meet required minimum spend, get a sign up bonus, wait 90 days and sign up for your next personal credit card.

– Here’s how I keep my credit score high:
1. Pay off credit card balances in full each month (if you are paying interest, this hobby isn’t free)
2. Wait 90 days between signing up for the next personal credit card
3. Keep all cards for at least 1 year before canceling or downgrading
4. If you decide you no longer want a card, see if there’s a $0 fee card you can downgrade to (rather than canceling)
5. Don’t open new cards if you plan on buying a house in the next year
6. Don’t close your oldest card

Here’s an actual screenshot of my credit score from February 2023.

If you are opening a max of 4 personal credit cards a year, you’ll actually probably still feel like you are missing out on so many amazing cards. There are plenty of great cards to sign up for and issuers introduce new ones as well.

(Remember, never cancel a card before the 1 year mark!)

Many cards come with great value and are worth the annual fee.
When your annual fee posts, you’ll need to decide if you…

  • Keep card OR
  • Downgrade to $0 annual fee card (if available) OR
  • Cancel card

Many cards come with great value and are worth the annual fee. When your annual fee posts, you’ll need to The first thing I do after an annual fee posts is call the credit card company to ask about a retention offer on the card.
You may get an offer of…
– them waiving the annual fee
– you may get an offer for another bonus with spend or
– you may get nothing
But calling and asking takes about 10 minutes and can really pay off.
If I don’t get a retention and I don’t find value in the card, I’ll downgrade to a $0 fee card if possible. If there isn’t a card available to downgrade to, I’ll cancel the card.

Great question! You are not alone in thinking what the heck. It’s the same. Points/ Miles. Same. One program calls it points. Makes sense maybe because they are a hotel. But Southwest also calls it points. And then you’ve got Capital One, and they call it miles! So, yep. It’s basically the same thing.

Cash back is great. But is it better. Not if you plan to book ANY travel at all this year. Because you can manipulate your points to get you outsized redemptions (outsized redemptions is, for example, needing only 35K points for a $1,000 hotel stay). But if you just took the cash from 35K points it’s $350.

  • Sign up for TravelFreely app
  • If you have a lot of cards, change their due by dates. Have 1/2 due on 1st of the month and 1/2 due on 15th of the month. Much easier to keep straight!

You are not alone in balking at annual fees for credit cards. I felt that way in the beginning too.

But now… I pay a lot in annual credit card fees. Why?
Because those cards have benefits that outweigh the fee. Or the fee is worth it for the 1st year to get the sign up bonus.

Two Examples

  • The Capital One Venture X has a $395 annual fee. BUT it comes with a $300 annual travel credit (when booking in Capital One’s travel portal), it has a $100 credit for TSA precheck or Global Entry, it has some of the absolute best lounge access benefits (for you PLUS 2 guests!). I easily get $700+ value from this card, so it definitely is worth more than the $395 fee to me.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a $95 annual fee. The standard sign up bonus is 60K points after spending $3K in 3 months. I can easily get $750 – $1,000 value from the 60K sign up bonus. So even if I were to only keep this card for 1 year, it’s worth that annual fee.


If so, please reach out! I want to be a resource to you. And I understand there’s a lot to take in when you are first starting.

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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