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Do you ever feel like you are going to spend so much money to attend an out of town wedding that you will have nothing left over to get a gift? This is how I felt when I added up the cost of attending a recent wedding in San Diego. Between airfare, hotels and rental cars, it would cost my wife and I about $1,500 to fly there from Denver and stay for two nights.
As much as we love our friends getting married, we probably would have stayed home and sent a nice gift instead if it wasn't for our travel rewards cards. In fact, we won't even have to spend a penny on the entire trip!
Here's How We Did It
First, we had to figure out the airfare, which would normally run about $200-$300 per person. Thankfully, we have plenty of points from the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase. Earlier this year, I signed up for both the personal and business version of the card, which offered 50,000 points each after spending just $2,000 per card. With a total of 104,000 points in hand, I was within striking distance of the 110,000 points required to earn a Companion Pass as well. So we were able to purchase two tickets using just the points required for a single flight,which was about 20,000 points.
Next I had to consider hotel options. I would have loved to stay at the country club where the wedding is being held, but that worked out to about $250 per night! So instead, I chose to stay at the Hyatt House San Diego/Sorrento Mesa, which offers free breakfast and only required 8,000 points per night. To receive those points, I was able to transfer the points that I earned from my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Plus® Business Card from Chase's Ultimate Rewards program to the Hyatt Gold Passport program.
Finally, I had to figure out a rental car. There are no rental car rewards credit cards, but you can get credit cards that let you put your statement credits towards any travel expense, such airfare, hotels, cruises, and of course, car rentals. I have the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card that offers double miles on all purchases, and each mile is worth one cent as a statement credit. I was able to use these reward miles from my Capital One credit card for not just the rental car, but also the taxes and fees on my airline tickets, bringing the total cost down to zero.
Will This Work For You?
Despite the fact that I have been very successful with award travel, I will be the first to admit that it is not for everyone. Those who carry a balance on their credit cards should focus on getting out of debt and not be worried about earning rewards because that defeats the purpose of earning rewards. Those with problems on their credit report will not be able to qualify for some of these premium reward cards. Also, anyone who will be applying for a home mortgage should take it easy and not apply for any new credit cards until after their mortgage is closed.
Finally, if having additional lines of credit will serve as an incentive for you to spend more money than you normally would, this strategy is definitely not for you. If you are able to leverage the competitiveness of the credit card industry to earn free travel, then you might have a few extra dollars left over for a generous wedding gift of your own.
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*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.