I have always loved to travel. Growing up, vacationing was a regular part of our family life. I consider myself blessed that I was able to see quite a bit of the world before I started high school. Now that I have a growing family, I see firsthand the increasing cost of indulging in that desire. As a family we’ve made it a habit to look for ways we can live more simply throughout the year so we can enjoy an annual vacation. However, I recently discovered a missing piece that I wish I had known decades ago…having someone else pay for our vacation! I know that credit cards might be a taboo topic for some, but we have found that we can quite easily use them to have someone else pay for our vacation off of points we’ve earned from budgeted purchases. Next year, I’m excited to say that we will nearly fully fund (airfare and hotel costs) a trip in January to Las Vegas for my birthday thanks to credit card rewards points.
I Was Not Always A Believer
Churning credit cards has been around for years and many have used them to fund really nice trips, yet I was still hesitant. We used to use our credit cards when the situation called for it and even earned rewards using our Chase card. Every six months or so we would accumulate enough points to score a $50 gift card to somewhere like Target, which we would promptly use to buy diapers for our growing family. Having two little ones in diapers at the time we thought this was great as they can be quite expensive over time. While doing this I knew there were other possibilities out there of people earning free plane flights or hotel stays, yet I held back mainly out of ignorance or fear that I would overspend to earn the rewards points. After taking a hard look at what we could potentially earn just for doing our normal spending I decided to take the leap into credit card churning.
Why Churning Credit Cards Can Be Worth It
The main reason behind our success in credit card churning is that we have a goal. That goal was to take a nice trip and do it on the cheap. This is where our credit card churning comes into play. Through our normal spending we have been able to amass roughly $2,000 in rewards points that we’ll be using to buy our plane tickets and hotel stay for my birthday trip. We did not have to do any crazy spending or bust our budget in order to earn these points, but were able to easily do so through our normal spending habits that we would’ve been doing anyway. The benefit, we found, to doing this was that we could let someone else pay for something that we wanted to do, which as an end result allows us to further stretch our budget because we can now use some of that money we put aside for vacation on other things.
We did this using our Barclay card.
Credit Card Churning Is Not For Everyone
You might be thinking, “this is nice and all, but it’s not for me.” I will be the first person to say that if spending or using credit cards responsibly is a challenge for you or if you struggle with self-control when it comes to your finances, then you should not be churning credit cards. As someone who struggled with credit card debt for several years, I completely understand; no free trip is worth it going into debt over. Your focus should instead be on saving money for any trips and keeping your spending under control. I will also say that if you’re looking to make a major purchase like a new home or a car in the next few years then credit card churning likely is not for you either as you could potentially create red flags for a future lender. All this said though, if credit card debt is not an issue for you AND you can control your spending, then earning rewards points might be a great way to have someone else fund a vacation for you.
Do you churn credit cards? Have you ever had a free plane flight or hotel stay as a result, I want to know!
Image by Lightsurgery/ flickr
9 thoughts on “How Credit Cards Are Paying For My Birthday Party in Vegas”
I’m just getting started with this myself. For me, I am starting out slowly so that I make certain I hit the requirements of the cards. I don’t want to go too big too fast and end up with credit card debt.
I can totally understand that Jon and is very wise. No trip on someone else’s dime if it results in needless debt.
I really need to figure the credit card churning thing out!
It can be really tempting, especially when you get a free hotel stay and airfare out of it. 🙂
I travel a lot for work and often spend more on reimbursable expenses then I make in salary. I’d be crazy not to credit card churn. You definately need to know yourself well and stay away if you’d be too tempted. Also you need to make sure you are following the spending amounts. Don’t wanna miss out on a $200 bonus or huge miles bonus by losing track of how much you spent on which card.
I completely agree David, you do have to know yourself well because that trip paid for by someone else is not worth it if you get into debt doing it.
Credit card rewards points can be great. I’ve paid for 2 round-trip tickets with such points, and all of it was through spending that was normal. I never spend more to get points, and don’t even think about the points when spending. I think that’s the key – as long as we accumulate points in the normal course of our spending, rewards can be a great thing.
That’s awesome DPF! I agree, that is vital to success with it – don’t use it as an excuse to overspend, but simply doing your normal spending.
I’m saving rewards points for a trip right now. After several months I already have $200 saved up! It will be a great treat to take a trip for free.
I effectively get back 2% towards my trip. Could I be doing better?
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