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Getting Awesome Free Travel Rewards

I have written about awesome mileage cards in the past, and just took advantage of a sweet deal that landed me a free round trip flight on American Airlines. Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. You can do it too.

Finding the Right Credit Card

This time around, I used the Starwood rewards card from American Express to collect over 35,000 points very quickly with a combination of bonuses and spending. You can see my always up to date favorite credits cards list for other great offers as well.

When I got the Starwood Amex, I had to spend $5,000 in the first six months to qualify for a points bonus on top of the 10,000 points I received for my first purchase. As long as you get 20,000 points, you can get the same free ticket I did.

There are many other great travel rewards cards as well, but today I am suggestion the Starwood Amex to anyone who asks.

Taking Advantage of Special Rewards

I noticed the widely publicized deal from the Starwood Preferred Guest program, also called SPG, that if you transfer 20,000 points to any airline, they will give you an extra 5,000 for free. Some airlines don’t have 1:1 transfers, but most of them do.

While I am not a huge fan of their customer service, American Airlines has a ton of destinations and is easy to use for rewards flights if you plan them out. So I took advantage of the 20,000 + 5,000 mile transfer from SPG to American Airlines.

This is not the only program around with bonuses. Chase offers a discount if you book travel rewards through their site. The list is big if you do your research.

Taking Advantage of Airline Rewards

American has anytime rewards for well over 25,000 each way, but if you plan it out and are flexible with your dates, you can easily book a North America round trip for 25,000 miles total, or 12,500 miles for each one way.

I have been trying to find a time to visit a couple of friends in the Washington DC area for two years, and it looks like this fall might just work out. I have not booked the flights yet, but I did the research and there is a 25,000 mile round trip from DEN to WAS available. Pretty sweet, right? All for spending money I would have spent anyway.

Your Credit Score and Annual Fees

This is not all fun and games with no risks. There are a couple of areas you have to consider before trying to use credit cards for reward points.

Credit Score

If you are going to buy a new home or get a new loan any time soon, this is not the right time for you to get a credit card. One of the factors used to rank your score is average age of open accounts, and new accounts bring down your score in the short term.

Annual Fees

Most awesome rewards cards have annual fees, some of them as high as $95. If you call and ask nicely, most banks will waive them. If not, however, you will be stuck closing your account or paying to keep the card open.

Your Best Travel Rewards Tips

Did I miss anything? Share your best tips in the comments.

Image by ReneS / flickr

4 thoughts on “Getting Awesome Free Travel Rewards”

  1. It’s amazing what you can get when you juggle various benefits from a number of rewards cards. Is there a big benefit to miles cards? I’ve always stuck to cash back. My thought being that I could always use the cash for plane tickets.

    1. Yes, there is a huge benefit. You often card turn your dollars into much more value than the 1%-2% you get back from a cash back card.

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