How To Use Credit Cards To Earn Cheap/Free Vacations

How To Use Credit Cards To Earn Cheap:Free VacationsBack in March, I published the article Are Rewards/Bonus Credit Cards Right For You? This is a personal finance blog, and I know that many are against credit card use.

However, while there are negatives to using credit cards, if you know how to use them to your advantage then there should be no negatives. Using credit cards to your advantage is a huge positive.

One of the main positives of using credit cards is that many nowadays have a rewards system in place (such as the one at the bottom of this article – Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard) to earn free rewards such as gift cards, cash, vacations, and more.

You can use your credit cards just like you normally would, and earn free things along the way.

What’s bad about that?


There is a common myth out there that you have to be rich or well-off in order to travel. That is just simply not true! I often go on vacations where I hardly have to open up my wallet. This is because I save up my rewards points for travel.


I have used my rewards for many different things. I have earned:

  • 5 round trip flights to Las Vegas that I used in May of this year to fly me and my friends to Vegas;
  • 3 or 4 round trip flights to Las Vegas in 2012;
  • Over $500 in gift cards to stores like Lowes and Target (you can also buy gift cards for hotels, cruises, etc.);
  • Around $1,000 cash back (yes, it’s actually cash!), and more.


Here are the ways I plan on using credit cards to earn cheap and free vacations:


Spending like I normally would.

I plan on spending money just like I normally would.

I don’t think anyone should be spending extra money just to earn rewards points, because you will be hurting yourself more than helping yourself most likely. If you cannot control your credit card spending, then please stop reading this article! Using credit cards for rewards points is definitely not for everyone out there. Some are much better with cash. Do not feel ashamed!

Anyway, there are plenty of ways to spend money by using credit cards to earn cheap and/or free vacations.

I put my groceries, clothing, gas, phone bill, and everything else that I can onto my credit cards.

It all adds up quickly so I am always able to meet the minimum spending limits that new credit cards ask you to meet in order for them to give you your sign-up bonus (more on this below).

We got married earlier this month, and I put nearly everything on my credit cards. Yes, that means that I will have to pay a lot come this time next month, but I already have the money saved so I can just make one big lump-sum payment towards my credit cards when the payment is due.


Using sign-up bonuses to my advantage.

Most of the rewards that you will earn are from signing up (and being approved) for rewards credit cards that have high sign up bonuses. This is where a credit card may have a bonus of $400 in travel for you signing up. You usually have to spend somewhere around $1,000 to $3,000 within the first three months to qualify for that though.

All you have to do is spend the minimum amount within the specified time period and then you are on your way to earning free rewards. Yes, it is really that easy.

Also, to some $3,000 may seem like a lot of money to spend in 3 months, but if you add up your normal monthly spending, then you might be somewhere around that. We are around that number, so it’s easy for us to earn bonus rewards.

There are many different types of bonuses out there. I have seen credit cards that offer a measly $25 for you to sign up, and then there are credit cards out there like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard where you can earn $440 for travel fairly quickly.


I will pay my credit card bills on time.

I have always paid my credit card on time.

I have never paid a late fee or paid money for interest.

There is a myth out there that if you use credit cards that you will 100% have to pay interest and that is simply not true. For most credit cards (I can’t think of a single credit card that doesn’t do this), you only pay interest when you are late paying your credit card bill and you let your balance accrue.

The key here is to pay off your balance by the due date (I always like to pay a few days before just in case something goes wrong with my payment), and then you will NOT have to pay any interest.


I will keep a log of everything.

If you really get into using credit cards to your advantage for rewards points, then it can be easy to make a mistake and end up having to pay interest.

This is something that you definitely do not want to do, as interest rates on credit cards can be fairly high.

Because of this, I will make an Excel sheet that lists out where I am for different credit cards. This way I can use my normal monthly spending to my advantage by knowing which expenses should be charged to each credit card.



If you want to learn more about this credit card, please check out my article Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard Review – Get $440 For Travel.


Do you use credit cards to your advantage? In what ways?

Are you working towards earning free/cheap vacations? Why or why not?


Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard Review – Get $440 For Travel

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard Review - Get $440 For TravelThe last credit card I applied for was the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. I currently have a few other credit cards (you can read the articles How I Plan on Getting $2,500 in Airfare to Las Vegas for CHEAP and Are Rewards/Bonus Credit Cards Right For You?) as well.

I plan on using this new credit card for most of our wedding expenses and also for our normal day-to-day expenses.

I’m hoping to earn enough points to pay for our next vacation, or at least a part of it.

We still have a lot of wedding expenses left, so I know we will be able to reach the $3,000 limit with no problem.

If you sign up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, you can enjoy 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

This is enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit. Then you will also receive an extra $40 due to the 10% miles back (as described further below), which gives you a total of $440 for travel.

That’s a lot of free money for travel!

$3,000 might seem like a lot, but if you have a lot of expenses coming up, then it can be easy to get there.

Also, even if you don’t have any large expenses coming up, you may even be able to reach the $3,000 amount with your normal expenses. With gas expenses, car maintenance, food, entertainment, travel expenses, and so on, you might be able to easily reach that $3,000 mark.

Warning: Please keep in mind that you shouldn’t spend extra just to reach that $3,000 mark, because you should not put yourself into credit card debt when you don’t need to. The bonuses are not worth it if you end up having to pay interest charges.


Here are other features of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, you will earn 2 times the miles on all purchases.

This makes earning rewards much easier.

You will earn 2X the miles every time you go to a restaurant, get gas, pay your bills, travel, and more. There’s also no limit to the amount of miles that you can earn. Some other credit cards place a limit, whereas the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® does not.

You will also receive a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after opening your account. After the 12 months are over, you will have a variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%.

Another great benefit is that you will receive a complimentary online FICO® Score access for Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard members.


You can also redeem your miles easily with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®:

  • You can fly any airline, any time with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • You can redeem for all types of travel rewards – flights, resorts, hotels, cruises, trains and car rentals.
  • You receive 10% miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits (i.e. redeem 30,000 miles for travel and get 3,000 miles back).
  • There are no foreign transaction fees. If you frequently travel out of the country, then this is very valuable! There is no need to pay foreign transaction fees anymore if you get this credit card.
  • You will also receive a Complimentary TripIt© Pro mobile travel organizer subscription (a $49 annual value).


The real only negative I see about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is that the annual fee is $89, but this is waived the first year. Most credit cards with a good reward system have an annual fee though. There is also another Barclaycard (as described below) that has no annual fee.

There is also an interest rate as well (14.99% or 18.99%), but like I’ve said before – please don’t get a credit card if you can’t pay your balance off each month. If you pay your balance off each month, then you won’t have to pay an interest rate.

Click here to apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.


Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® – No Annual Fee

If you decide that you don’t want to pay an annual fee, then have no fear! There is also a Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard where you earn 1X the points, and it has no annual fee. If you sign up for the No Annual Fee Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®, you can enjoy 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. This is enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit. Click here to apply for the No Annual Fee Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard.  


Do you have the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard?

What do you think of rewards cards such as the Barclaycard?


Reasons You’re Still In Debt

Reasons You're Still In DebtNow that I’m no longer semi-anonymous with my finance blogging, I tend to have a lot of friends and random people asking me finance questions.

I have people pouring what seems like their heart and soul to me because they really want to change and improve their situation.

This is something that I love about being a personal finance blogger – the fact that I can (hopefully) help someone change their life and teach them how to manage their money better.

Many of the questions I receive involve debt and what they can do to change their situation.

Someone told me they had over $200,000 in student loan debt, another person recently told me they had over $100,000 in credit card debt, some are hiding their finance problems from their families, some have told me that they are beyond house poor and they don’t know what to do.

The list goes on and on about the stories that I have heard.

I think the first thing a person needs to do when it comes to eliminating their debt is to realize WHY they are in debt in the first place (the next step is to actively reduce your debt – read How To Eliminate Your Debt). If you don’t know what your problem is, then it would be hard to make a positive change.

Yes, it is great to just start attacking your debt, but you also don’t want to fall into a vicious cycle of going into debt over and over again.

Here are some of the many reasons for why you may be in debt.


You think that you have plenty of time to pay your debt off.

When I was in the middle of paying off my $40,000 worth of student loan debt, I remember being asked why I wanted to get rid of my student loan debt so quickly.

You know the saying  about how there is no such thing as a stupid question?

Well, I thought that question was extremely stupid. I thought (and still think) it was probably the most stupid question I have ever been asked or heard.

I can’t remember the conversation exactly, but I remember them saying something about how I’m young and I should enjoy my money more and that I can worry about my student loans later.


Why not just pay off your debt more? Would you really rather have than 100th pair of jeans instead of putting more towards your debt? I know for a fact that I will probably completely forget about an article of clothing (even though I love clothes!) and I will appreciate my debt being paid off more.

I still enjoyed my life while I was paying off my debt, and I definitely do not think I was suffering at all.

It’s been around seven months since I completely paid off my student loans, and I couldn’t be happier!

You also never know what may happen. If you wait to pay off your debt and instead spend your money on things that you don’t need, you may fall into a bad situation. What would happen if you lost your job, came across high medical bills, or something else?

Wouldn’t you have wanted your debt to be gone?


Reasons You're Still In DebtYou treat your credit card as income.

Your credit card is not a new income source. If you treat your credit card this way, then you should cancel your credit card.

Oh well if closing your account means that you will be lowering your credit score, you are probably doing worse damage anyways by racking up large credit card bills that you can’t pay.

If you are using a credit card, then you should be working to pay off your balance completely each month.


So-and-so has debt, so it’s fine if I do too.

Many people compare their debt amounts to others in hopes that they will feel more “normal” about their debt and not feel as bad. An example would be if you are 30 and the average 30-year-old has $10,000 worth of credit card debt (I completely just made that number up). You then use this number as a “guide” to yourself so that you can feel more comfortable about your debt.

However, WHO CARES about how much debt another person has? How exactly does knowing what the average amount of debt a  random 30-year-old has affect you?

Is that person you?


So, why would another person’s amount of debt even matter to you? That makes no sense!

Just because someone else has $10,000 worth of credit card debt from buying too much clothing does not mean that you should too. You never know, this amount may be breaking them on the inside even if they aren’t showing it.


I deserve the items that I buy.

Yes, you may be awesome and think you deserve it, but should you really be buying it? Just because someone else just bought a 100 inch 3D TV (or a mansion, nice car, gadgets, a crazy-expensive wedding, etc.) doesn’t mean that you should as well.

You might think “oh well they have a comparable job to mine, so, if they can afford, then I can too.”

However, you have no idea how this person is paying for it. Maybe they saved for years, or maybe they are just putting everything on their credit card.

I recently talked to someone who has over $100,000 in credit card debt and I could tell they were in panic mode. They bought way too much house, way too much car, way too much everything. They thought they deserved it all since others were buying something similar.

You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses!


Why are you in debt? What reasons have you caught yourself using?

If you’re feeling extra brave, please share how much debt you have (house, car, student loans, credit cards, etc.).