Tim Foolery

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Ways to Travel for Free?

Well, who doesn’t want to travel for free?  So many other travel bloggers leverage the credit card sign up bonuses to allow them to travel in premium cabins worldwide.  I never really got into this before.  I was concerned about my credit score and meeting minimum spend requirements to get the full bonus.  I knew that I also wanted to refinance my house and I didn’t want a bunch of credit pulls from various banks to affect any rate or ability to refi.

Fast forward to last week. After 4.5 months of working on a refi (there were no issues, Wells Fargo is just super slow), we closed.  I decided to get a couple new cards for the sign up bonus.  I put all my spending on a credit card (that I can — can’t do a student loan, a mortgage, my dry cleaning or the housekeeper, all else on plastic) then pay it off each month.

My go to cards now are the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Freedom Card (if you want to know how I choose between these cards, let me know).  I have no intention of getting rid of my two Chase cards, but I do want to get sign up bonuses for other cards.

Which new cards did I choose?  I decided to get the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card (with 25,000 SPG points after $5,000 in spend within 6 months) and the Citi American Airlines AAdvantage MasterCard (with 45,000 American miles after spending $1,000 within 3 months).  I was approved instantly for the City AA Card.  My Starwood card wasn’t approved immediately, the website said it would require further review.  I had this issue earlier this year when it came to my Chase Sapphire Card. A simple call, confirm a couple items and you are done.  I pop over to check my email and see that American Express had already approved my application — 45 seconds after they put a hold on it…and I didn’t have to call the reconsideration line.  Neither of these cards have annual fees for the first year either.

The cards should be here next week, which will allow me to start getting the minimum spend behind me.  Will I keep these cards for the long haul? I doubt I’ll keep the Citi card when it comes time to pay the annual fee, but I’ve heard the Starwood card is pretty great because of the earning options and how great the Starwood points transfer to airlines (or even for use at their great hotels).

Do you leverage credit card sign up bonuses to travel the world? Were you afraid how it would affect your credit score?  What cards are you churning right now?

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