Points and Miles MythBusters Series…10 Minutes Can Change Your Life!

This is the third post in a series.  You can read the first two here:

Points and Miles Myths…Busted!

Points and Miles MythBusters…Amazing But True

My goal: to show how easy it is to travel for free using points and miles.  You don’t need lots of spare time, disposable income, or credit cards.  I’m going to “bust” those myths by planning a 4-night family getaway to Aruba for free using points and miles, in an hour or less (10 minutes/day for 6 days), using only 1 credit card sign-up bonus per adult (I’m using a fictional family of four in my example), and no additional spending.

I’m sure I left you on the edge of your seat with the cliffhanger from yesterday.  If you’re just tuning in, our heroine (me) was trying to decide between three premium travel cards: the British Airways Visa, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card.  Our goal is to earn 120,000 Avios so we can pay entirely with miles for the flights to Aruba.

Let’s explore how each card would work for us.  Since each adult in the family only wants one credit card in his or her wallet, we need to make sure that the card we choose is going to work overtime!  I’m going to set my timer for 10 minutes so I know when to stop (remember, my goal is to prove that Points and Miles collecting does not take a lot of time, so I’m only working on this for a total of one hour).

That Card Works Hard For The Money

Since the family’s annual, everyday spend is $42,000, we will assume that most of that spend ($30,000) will be placed on this card.  The remainder of the spend ($12,000) will be put on the family’s other credit card (yesterday we determined that card would be the Club Carlson Visa).

*Note: in a later post, I will explain how to make sure that every dollar of your everyday spend can be placed on a credit card (which of course you would pay in full each month).

British Airways

With an annual spend of $30,000 on the British Airways card, we will earn 130,000 Avios:

  • 50,000 + 25,000 + 25,000 (all bonuses) + 30,000 (spend)
  •  The annual fee is not waived the first year, so this card will cost us $95.
  • There are no category bonuses for this card, so we will earn a simple 1 Avios/dollar spent.
  • As an extra perk, you will earn a free companion ticket valid on award tickets after spending $30,000 within a calendar year.

Chase Sapphire

With the same annual spend ($30,000), on the Chase Sapphire Card, we will earn at least 74,900 Ultimate Rewards points, which we can transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s travel partners (including British Airways):

  • 40,000 (bonus) + 30,000 (spend) + 4,900 (7% annual dividend).
  • With the Sapphire Preferred, you earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points /dollar on dining and travel, and 1 Ultimate Rewards point/dollar for everything else.
  • You also have access to additional points/dollar if you go through the Ultimate Rewards mall to do your online shopping.  For example, you can earn an additional 7x points from Drugstore.com, or an additional 3x points from Gap.  These points add up quickly!
  • The annual fee on this card is waived for the first year, then it is $95/year after that.

Amex Premier Rewards Gold

[Update: be sure to check creditcards.com if you are considering applying for this card. The Amex signup bonuses have been very high on that site lately. The Premier Rewards Gold bonus is currently at 50,000 points at the time of this edit!]  The Amex Premier Rewards Gold would give you 25,000 Membership Rewards points, which you can transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Amex’s travel partners (which also include British Airways)

  • Amex frequently offers points-transfer bonuses on British Airways (they’ve been as high as 50% in the past, although the most recent one was 30%), so it might be possible to increase the value of your points by that percent.
  • With this card, you earn triple points on airfare, double points on gasoline at stand-alone gas stations, double points at stand-alone supermarkets, and single points on other purchases
  • Annual fee of $175 is waived the the first year.

While all of these cards offer great value for different reasons, since our goal is to vacation in Aruba for free, it makes sense to choose the British Airways Visa.  For a $95 annual fee, we can get approximately $3,000 worth of airfare!

Now that we’ve identified the best cards for our situation, let’s do a quick time check to see what else we can accomplish.  I’ve got 4 minutes and 26 seconds left.

Wrap It Up

This would be a perfect time to sign up for Award Wallet, which is a free service that allows you to track your miles and points using one central online page.  You can add everyone in your family to the same account.  It’s super convenient and easy to use…a big time-saver.  At a glance, you can see where you stand with all of the loyalty programs you’re a part of.

After signing up for Award Wallet, we’ll add in a couple of loyalty programs.  The reason it’s important to sign up for these is that this is the way to access lucrative promotions.

Since we’re focused on Club Carlson and British Airways, let’s start with these.  Signing up is quick and easy.  After you sign up, make sure to add the programs into your Award Wallet account.

Time check: 27 seconds left.  We’re done for today!

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