A Beginners Guide to Traveling for Free with Credit Card Points

Would you like to fly to Europe? I don’t know what it is about Europe, but the idea of traveling there always gets me so excited. The history, beautiful architecture, food, lovely sounding languages, and amazing scenery all combine to make Europe one of the most popular vacation destinations.

Of course, if you’re like me and live in the US, flying across the world to Europe could easily set you back $1,000 or more. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an extra $1,000 dollars just laying around. What’s a girl to do? Fly for free! If you want a broad overview of how we fly for free with credit card points, check out my post here. For more specifics about how to get started, keep reading!

In Paris, France

Which Card Should I Start With?

If you’re hoping to travel with credit card points, it’s best to start off with Chase credit cards first. Why? Their points are the most flexible and they have the best signup bonuses. Chase lets you transfer the points you build up with them to different airline and hotel partners. For example, you can transfer Chase points to airlines such as United and Southwest. If you’re hoping for a free place to sleep, you’re in luck! They let you transfer points to hotel points programs, such as Hyatt’s program for free hotel nights.

If you want to travel to Europe, you would need to transfer 60,000 Chase points to United. This would give you enough for a round-trip ticket to Europe.  To break it down a bit more, I’m going to explain specifically how you can get a free, round-trip ticket to Europe using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It’s a great card, and they even waive their annual $95 fee for your first year! But, before we go into details, I need to tell you about something called the 5/24 rule.

The 5/24 Rule

So what is the 5/24 rule? This is the rule that Chase applies to most of the credit cards they offer. The basic idea of the rule is that there are some Chase cards that you will not be approved for if you have opened 5 or more credit cards within the past 24 months. The 5 includes cards you are an authorized user on if they have been opened in the last 24 months.

A Gyro Platter at Smile Restaurant in Athens, Greece

How to Get a Free, Round-Trip Ticket to Europe

If you are approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the signup bonus is 50,000 points. Other than signing up for the card, there’s just one condition you have to follow to get the points. You have to spend $4,000 dollars within the first 3 months of having the card. Don’t worry! If $4,000 seems like a lot, I have 3 tips for how to meet the minimum spending amount without spending more than you normally would.

3 Tips to Meet the Minimum Spend Amount
  1. Use a credit card for your everyday expenses. Most businesses already accept credit cards without any additional fees, so why not put your normal expenses on a credit card? Just make sure you have a plan to pay it off every month and don’t spend more than you typically would just because it’s a credit card. If you already spend more than $4,000 dollars in 3 months, you can stop here! Otherwise, keep reading.
  2. Pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card. For our rent, we can pay directly with a credit card. If your landlord doesn’t allow you to pay with a credit card, though, you may be able to pay it with a credit card indirectly. How? One option is to pay your rent or mortgage with a site called Tio. Tio lets you pay most of your bills with a credit card. Just know, though, that they do charge a percentage fee when you pay. Also, if you do this you may need to pay 2 to 3 weeks in advance to avoid any late fees since processing and delivery could take a few weeks. The fees do add up though, so it only makes sense paying your rent or mortgage this way if you need help meeting the minimum spend amount.__ _ _ 
  3. Make a microloan. One last method you can use to meet the minimum spend amount is to make microloans through Kiva. Kiva is a nonprofit that uses microloans to help alleviate poverty. The loans are usually for 6 to 12 months. You’ll be paid back in monthly increments or in full at the end of the loan period, depending on the loan terms. You can use a credit card to fund a microloan, and Paypal will waive all credit card fees for loans made through Kiva. There are some risks involved as there’s no guarantee you’ll get all your money back, but it’s a nice option and can help people if you’re willing to take the risk!

If you need any of that clarified, feel free to comment below or email me to ask any questions!

What happens once you’ve signed up for the credit card and spent $4,000? You’ll get the 50,000 signup bonus points! Not only that, you’ll also earn one point per dollar spent. Chase also gives you an additional 5,000 points if you add someone as an authorized user to the card.

A Note About Adding Authorized Users

If you’re married and add your spouse as an authorized user, they can still get that card for themself. You can both have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and both have each other listed on your separate cards as each other’s authorized users. Being listed on someone’s card as an authorized user does not keep you from getting that same card. Remember, though, any cards you’re an authorized user on that have been opened in the last 24 months will count against Chase’s 5/24 rule.

 

At the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

After earning the signup bonus, adding an authorized user, and spending the minimum spend amount of $4,000 your points total will come to 59,000 points, which is just 1,000 away from 60,000. Remember what I said about 60,000 points in the beginning of this article? 60,000 Chase points can be transferred to United to give you a free round-trip ticket to Europe! You’ll just have to pay taxes and fees. To get that last 1,000 points needed, just spend an additional $1,000 on the card.

Remember, if you’re just paying your normal expenses on the credit card (such as paying for groceries) it doesn’t have to cost you any more than you would typically spend. Also, that final $1,000 (to get you to 60,000 points) doesn’t need to be spent in the first three months. It can be! But, if you need more time to spend that, you can spread it out over a longer period of time.

What If My Credit Score Isn’t Good Enough to Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?

I remember those days. When I first started applying for credit cards, I got denied all the time. For me, it wasn’t because I had a bad credit score, rather it was because I didn’t even have a credit score since I didn’t get a credit card until I married Josh. If you’re like I was before and you don’t have a long credit history or if your credit score isn’t the best, you should consider getting the Chase Freedom card first. 

Overview of the Chase Freedom Card:
  • Chase Freedom is a good card to start out with. The Chase Freedom card is a great card, and it’s easier to get approved for than the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. They’ll give you 15,000 points after signing up and spending $500 within the first 3 months.
  • Chase Freedom won’t let you transfer your points like Chase Sapphire Preferred. The big difference between the 2 cards is that the Chase Freedom card only lets you redeem points for cash back. You can’t transfer the points to travel partners if you only have the Chase Freedom card. 
  • Your best option, for now, is to save the points you earn from Chase Freedom. If you want to travel, don’t choose to redeem your points for cash back! The cash back option gives you less value for the points than the travel option. Instead of redeeming the Chase Freedom points for cash back, save the points. Then, as your credit score goes up, apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Once you get approved, you can transfer all the points you earned from the Chase Freedom card to your new Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Then, you can use all those points for travel since Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer your points to airline and hotel partners. 

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece

How to Apply

Are you excited to start earning points? I’m excited for you! It’s such a blessing to be able to travel and experience more of the world. Below, I’ve listed the referral links I have to apply for the cards I’ve mentioned.

Full disclosure

I’m not affiliated with Chase, but if you sign up using a referral link, I will earn some points. You will get the same amount of points whether you use my link or just go to the website without it. If you’d like to use our links, they’re below!

Application Links:

There’s one other card I didn’t mention, but I’m going to include the link in case you’d like it. This one is called Chase United MileagePlus Explorer. It’s a good one if you want to go on a big international trip and need more miles than you can earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card alone.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer offers 50,000 United miles after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. It’s not as flexible as Chase Sapphire Preferred because it only earns United miles, and the $95 annual fee isn’t waived the first year, but it’s a good option if you’re looking to earn even more miles!

  • For Chase United MileagePlus Explorer, click here.

Final Thoughts

 Are you ready to fly off to Europe? I hope all that made sense! I know all this can seem confusing at the beginning, but you’ll get it! Just be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’d be happy to help you in any way I can! Just drop a comment below or email me and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible 🙂

4 thoughts on “A Beginners Guide to Traveling for Free with Credit Card Points

  • Ozzy July 31, 2017 at 6:57 am Reply

    I kept hearing about this card and didn’t really know all the details of it, so thanks for writing this. Super helpful 🙂

    • admin July 31, 2017 at 10:42 am Reply

      Thanks, Ozzy! I’m so glad it was helpful 🙂 That makes the time writing it all worth it! 🙂

  • Kristina Middleton July 31, 2017 at 11:38 am Reply

    Didn’t know this existed!! Thanks for the tip 🙂

    • Joanna July 31, 2017 at 12:08 pm Reply

      No problem!! I hope you’re able to use it!

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