This is going to read like an ad, but I’m not being paid for this, I’m just trying to be helpful. I was able to save a lot of money on flights by taking advantage of credit card reward points, specifically from Chase.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve was the perfect credit card for this trip. It costs $450 a year but it’s already saved me several times that. It comes with a $300 travel credit. That was easily met by booking a few flights.
At the time I signed up they gave me the equivalent of $1500 in airline points to spend as a bonus. With the $750 from the Chase Sapphire Preferred as a second card, I was able to stretch $2250 worth of points to cover another $3000 in free flights using award hacker to figure out and transfer points to different airlines who offered better deals. I did end up paying about $2000 for other flights and in taxes, roughly 25 flights all together (I had to keep a spread sheet) . I probably could have improved that if I had waited longer to book Australia to Hawaii.
Some of the best flights I’ve booked using points include:
- Honolulu to Pittsburgh for $5
- $11 round trip from Honolulu to the Big Island
- $43 from Pittsburgh to Budapest
- $63 from Tokyo to Auckland
- Many more.
It also comes with free global entry and TSA precheck. That is another $100.
It also comes with insurance for rental cars so that you can decline the insurance they try to sell you. That has saved me hundreds of dollars in Iceland and Croatia, and will again in Hawaii and New Zealand.
Finally it gives free access to airport lounges all around the world. It’s not something I would normally use so it’s more like a bonus, but the lounges are way more comfortable than the terminal and have free food and drinks. Mmmm free scotch and snacks, just saying.
To summarize, using two chase credit cards, I bought $5000 of flights for $2000, $300 of which was refunded to me. I purchased global entry and TSA precheck, and get rental car insurance, and I get free airport scotch and comfy chairs (not available in Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh has Currito Burrito) all for $450. I’m probably going to keep it. Next year without the sign up bonus its not as good of a deal but it’s still good.
Most importantly, and it can’t be over stressed, I never carry a balance. The math on the savings doesn’t work if you’re paying the insane monthly interest or late fees. I put all my spending on this card including bills such as cable and car insurance and I pay it off entirely each month.
How does Chase make money on this? The answer is they may not be. I also hear those deals and sign up bonuses from chase are not as good today as they were last year.
There are other credit cards that give different reward bonuses but I’m worried I that I don’t completely know what I’m doing so I stuck with these. Also this plan isn’t for everyone. Be careful!