Travel Hacking Successes and Failures 2.17.17

chase sapphire reserve image

Since I last posted about travel hacking, aka collecting points and miles, I have consumed little more than green kale smoothies and all of the subject matter I can lay my eyes on in relation to the hobby.  I don’t see any reprieve in the near future.  There is so much to learn, so many resources to comb through, and so many bloggers to follow.  And curiously, I haven’t lost interest on the subject yet, which is remarkable since my attention span typically allows me 3-4 days of brain power on any given topic before it gets thrown into the junk drawer of my mind.

I promised that I would share my successes and failures in my last post, so I’ll tell you what I have accomplished so far.  At the end of December, I read about a credit card called the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  According to everything I had read about it, the card was the most valuable on the market at the time in terms of travel rewards, not only because its currency is Ultimate Rewards (URs), but because at the time the sign-up bonus was 100,000 URs – that’s a round-trip flight in business class from New York to London – after spending $4k  in 3 months.  It seemed like everybody was after it.  The Points Guy had been lamenting that he couldn’t get his hands on it because Chase has some strict rules on credit card approvals (read here on how he finally got it).

Needless to say, I had to have it.  I applied online and got instant approval.


Doug was reluctant, but I persuaded him to apply for it as well.  “You know, Sue, I am putting full trust in you in doing this,” with that wary “20 lashes if you’re wrong” kind of tone.  While I don’t think that his application strategy should mirror mine, there is value in both partners carrying the same card.  This post, again by The Points Guy, gives a quick overview of credit card strategies for couples.

Another card I decided must live in my wallet was the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier credit card.  In doing my research, I learned about the Southwest Companion Pass.  If you haven’t heard of this, it’s an almost unbelievable offer and it’s not available through any other carrier, domestic or international.  When you qualify for the Companion Pass you can choose one person to fly for free with you every time you travel, and it’s valid from the time you qualify until the end of the following year.  So if I were to qualify for the Companion Pass in March of 2017, it would be good until the end of December of 2018, and I can use it AS MANY TIMES as I want.  What’s more, I can change my companion up to three times until its expiration.

To qualify for the Companion Pass, you must fly 100 qualifying one-way flights – I wouldn’t be able to do that at this stage in my life – or accumulate 110,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points (Southwest’s currency) within one calendar year.  There are lots of ways to earn Rapid Rewards points through the Rapid Rewards Dining program and the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal and anyone can do it by simply signing up for a Rapid Rewards account** (it’s not a credit card).  Still, 110,000 points is a lofty goal to achieve, UNLESS…

I applied for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier credit card two days after I applied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and I got instant approval.  This card gives you 50,000 points after spending $2k in 3 months.  Those points DO qualify for the Companion Pass.

Now for my first failure.  I simultaneously applied for the personal Premier card and the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card because that card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points for $3k spent in 3 months.  Those two cards combined (after completing the minimum spend) would instantly earn me a Companion Pass.  While the personal card was immediately approved, the business card came up “pending review”.  A few days later I received a letter stating that I was declined.  I’ll share with you in a separate post why I was declined, what I did about it, and how I plan to get that card in the very near future.  In hindsight, it was probably for the best that I wasn’t approved at that time because $9k of organic everyday spending (utilities, insurance, groceries, etc.) in 3 months would be a challenge for me to achieve.

Since all of that, I have been diligently studying credit card offers, airline award charts, hotel programs, blogs, and anything else having to do with travel hacking.  Doug and I have a couple of trips in the works including taking all four of our kids on a cruise this summer as well as an inaugural transatlantic cruise in 2018.  I plan on using our points and miles for all of our flights and hotel stays in hopes that we will spend very little out-of-pocket for those incidentals.

Let me know if you have any insider secrets to the points-n-miles game!

**I signed up for a Rapid Rewards account years ago when I traveled for work and even though I didn’t pay for the flights, I could have the flight points credited to me.  You can sign up for one through this link.

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