Year 1 “Travel Hacking” Summary
I have big news…it’s my 1 Year Travel Hack-iversary! I thought to celebrate this momentous occasion I would give you a run down of the cards I chose over the past year and how many points those cards have earned.
After discovering this hobby dubbed “travel hacking”, I opened my fist rewards credit card on Jan 3, 2016. It was the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 50,000 point bonus. I added my husband as an authorized user for an additional 5,000 points. After meeting the minimum $4,000 spend I had 59,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points from my first card. I was hooked!!
My first full year of miles and points collecting has been exciting. Over the last 12 months, I have opened 8 credit cards in my name and 4 in my husband’s. In sign up bonus points alone, we earned a total of 725,000 Points (plus 2 Free nights at any Hyatt in the world – worth 50,000 points). Not too shabby for opening a few (ok, 12) credit cards. Fees for all of the cards for the first year totaled $1,520.
As far as my credit score goes, overall it went down 24 points. I was pretty aggressive with the number of cards I was opening which accounts for the drop. My score is still over 800 so I’m not concerned.
See my Beginner’s Guide to Miles and Points for more information about credit scores.
All The Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 points – Chase points are a great place to start!
American Express Platinum – 100,000 points – Targeted offer – a no brainer
Gold Delta Sky Miles (husband’s account)- 30,000 points and $50 credit on Delta purchase – This ended up being my first mistake. We received an offer for 50,000 points a couple of weeks after we opened this account, and AmEx would not match the offer. Then I saw a 60,00 public offer too! Ugh!
Marriott Rewards Premiere – 80,000 – I started collecting Marriott points to purchase a Hotel + Air package (with Southwest points to earn the Companion Pass- this will only be available until March 31, 2017)
Chase Freedom -15,000 – This pairs well with the Chase Sapphire Preferred I already had so I could turn the 5% cash-back into 5x points.
Marriott Rewards Premier (husband’s account)- 80,000 – More points towards our Hotel + Air package (you can transfer points to a spouse’s account so these points can be combined with mine)
Hilton Honors Amex – 75,000 – This is a good bonus for this no-fee card. However, I didn’t really have any plans for Hilton points, so in hindsight I wish I would have waited on this one.
Chase Sapphire Preferred (husband’s account) – 50,000 points – Can’t go wrong with Chase points
Hyatt Visa – 2 Free Nights at any Hyatt Worldwide. I got this to pay for 2 nights of our upcoming Key West trip.
Chase Sapphire Reserve – 100,000 points (OMG! I signed up in branch and was thankfully approved!)
Chase Sapphire Reserve (husband’s account) – 100,000 points
Starwood Preferred Guest – 25,000 points – I missed out on the unprecedented 35,000 offer and wasn’t sure about waiting for another increased offer because of the Marriott/SPG merger. I had wanted this card for a long time so I finally decided to go for it.
So there you have it. Overall, I think I did pretty good, but I definitely would have changed some things based on what I have learned throughout the year. My biggest bust would have to be the Delta card. I have gotten some value out of it, but it wasn’t a good strategy move, timing-wise. Oh well, live and learn.
My 2 Big Lessons
- Start with Chase. That pesky 5/24 will sneak up on you quickly. Chase’s 5/24 rule means that Chase is unlikely to approve you for a new account if you have opened 5 or more cards in the previous 24 months (from any bank, not just Chase).
- Have a goal. Decide where you want to go, what hotel you want to stay at or what airline you want to fly and then work backwards. If you really aren’t sure, start with a transferable currency like Chase points or Amex points.
How would you rate my card choices? What cards are in your wallet?