I have really enjoyed sharing my experiences and offering pointers when it comes to affordable travel. Ever since I was young, I always looked for ways to save money and ‘game’ the system. I got my first Wells Fargo credit card, with a $500 limit, when I was 18 years old. I was only able to sign up for that student credit card by using a college .edu email address. Easy enough, I created a .edu email alias and forwarded it to my Hotmail. I still have that card and it helped me jump-start my credit score. Now my wife and I travel the country (and globe) for pennies on the dollar. The opportunities are out there, you just have to be willing to take the plunge.
Multiple people have asked me, and no, we do not have any credit card debt. Naturally, many people conclude that by having a large number of credit cards it automatically means you are going to get into debt. My wife and I combined have over 30 active credit cards with a total available credit limit in the $200k range. No debt. What we do, and I recommend this in all my posts about credit management, is to set all credit cards to auto-pay the total new balance every month. If you do this from day one you will never accumulate credit card debt. Oh, and your credit score does not go down by opening up multiple credits cards. My score has gone up significantly in the last year, it is now higher than it has ever been.
If you do plan on carrying balances on your cards (debt), do not do it with a travel credit card. Travel credit cards have high interest rates which is how credit card companies try to offset the free points they give you. You would be better off getting a card like the Chase Slate if you need to carry a balance. If you pay your credit card in full each month, you pay NO interest. As always, use your credit cards as if you are going to have to pay it all back. (because you are)
The other big misconception is that traveling for next-to-nothing means you have to fly in the back of the plane and stay in shady hotels. This could not be further from the truth. My wife and I have stayed at many high-end hotels, have flown first class, and have unlimited access to first class airport lounges, all for free. If there is a system, there is a way to maximize it. It takes a bit of know-how and a lot of follow-through. If you are scared to jump into the free travel game, don’t be, you will be so happy you didn’t listen to all the ‘scary’ myths about credit cards. (usually from people who have little experience with revolving credit)
One thing I rarely touch on, but is important nonetheless, is all the perks that you get with credit cards even after you get your sign-up bonus. Some cards, like my American Express Platinum card, gives us free access to all-inclusive airport lounges around the country. My Chase Sapphire card gives me primary auto insurance when I rent a car. This means I do not have to pay for any of the additional insurance offered by the rental car agency. Most of my credit cards also include roadside assistance for no charge. Many of my hotel credit cards include free hotel status putting me at the top of the priority list to get free room upgrades. Airline cards grant me free checked bags, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases. I could go on forever, but I think you get the idea.
I am by no means rich, but knowledge can sometimes be more powerful than wealth. I flew 45,000 miles last year, I stayed in over 20 hotels, and visited more cities than I can remember. All this for something I do in my SPARE TIME. This year I am going to put even more time and effort into Miles To The Max and continue to travel for free! I hope you are ready for the ride. As always, I am at your disposal on Facebook.