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Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Lesson 8 of 32

Multiply Your Bonuses

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

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Lesson Info

8. Multiply Your Bonuses

Lesson Info

Multiply Your Bonuses

We began talking about the number one thing you can do to earn a lot of miles and points all at once we had this extended trouble hacking hot seat with my co presenter stephanie and I talking about credit cards and answering lots of questions I had lots of questions that came in on line as well so we're still following up on those we're going continue talking about how to best use credit cards to help you and all the miles and points that you need for your dream trip for your dream destination so today we want to take it to a new level by talking about category bonuses just a brief reminder there's no one size fits all lots of different car products out there for people who are just kind of feeling overwhelmed I just want to do like one basic thing probably one car that belongs in just about everyone's wallet I use this card every day stephanie use it I think some of our audience members already have it probably chase sapphire card you get double points on dining, you get double points...

on all travel there's no foreign transaction fees so you can check out the link for that on cards for travel dot com ifyou'd like other products may serve other people too, so we'll talk about that if you're ready to level up if you're like ok, I don't want to just do one thing I actually wanted, like, develop a real strategy to help me, you know, achieve my goals for this dream trip. There's a lot more you can do. So with that in mind, our three goals for the day know when to use which credit card during the most possible points by spending and strategically plan your credit card use. Okay, so one thing that's good to cover right in the beginning is that there's actually different kinds of credit card bonuses or different kinds of ways to earn miles and points through credit cards. We talked a lot about sign up bonuses in the previous lesson. I think we have more on that coming up later. So signing bonuses or where you get the car for the first time and you get thirty thousand points or forty thousand or fifty thousand, or whatever it is all at once, then there's ongoing spend like we talked about how setting up your dining program and your shopping and about other things you can purchase and all kinds of different options for that there are specific promotion shins. They come out on a pretty regular basis, and we've talked about how to find some of those deals. By going to the urn miles page on your airline by following blog's, if you'd like by joining the travel hacking cartel where we'll just kind of e mail you those deals or you can find them on your own lots of different ways to do it. And then one last thing is category bonuses and that's what we'll discuss today, we've got a great scott guest coming in here in a moment, and the goal with all of this, as we've mentioned a couple of times, is to set up a system to turn everything you eat, drink and buy into points and miles so category bonuses actually help you earn more miles for the things that you already buy, so I use this example of chase sapphire a few moments ago, some cars give you extra points for items purchased specific kinds of stores or services, eh? So in this example with chase sapphire, you know once you get the car, you actually earned double points on all your dining spend and all your travel spend and travel is quite a a broad category. It includes plane tickets, includes hotels, but it also includes car rentals. Leave includes ground transport to do it includes train tickets or subway tickets or anything like that so that's an example of a category bonus if you had this card in one other card and the other cards just turned one mile or point for a person particular category on you had this card you would want to use this one when you were dining or traveling or whatever and we'll talk about that a little bit more but maybe to illustrate this principle in a fun way we're going to talk to someone who got really creative with ah home renovations project so hey nathan are you there? Yeah, I'm here chris awesome. Hey. Hi, nathan. How are you today? So doing well, good to talk to you. Good. Great to see you this morning. So, um I was hanging out with nathan in boise, idaho. I think that's where he's calling in from today. But I was there last year doing a little hotel trip that I'm going to tell you about in the hotel weeks and nathan took me paddleboarding and he told me this story about how he was doing a home renovation and how he was using the system of points and miles to maximize his miles a journey. So nathan, we want to hear about that story today but first can you tell us how you got started in earning points and miles? Yeah, so it was actually reading chris's blood I learned about this whole idea that you could travel for free at the time I was addicted with traveling and planning trips everywhere possible so I got started just with a few basic credit cards I think it was the united mileageplus it was before the explorer card but then later I got that and flying out of boise united is a good uh airline to use so I started there and it just took off fantastic that's a great point where you're starting from especially if you aren't starting at a hub really affects your credit card and your mileage earning strategy. So where did this idea come for your home renovation using points in miles yeah, so I really got into category bonuses when I got the chase ink bold and the chasing plus cards and so that has a five of five points for dollar spent at office supply stores and so I got interested in buying gift cards at artistic oh, because there was I think it was trying remember what gets card it was but you couldn't load them on the vanilla reload card and things like that and that was pretty interesting on dh then I found the home improvement gift card and you get those in five hundred dollar increments and it had no fee whatsoever and so you spent five hundred dollars you get five hundred dollars on the gift card and and you also get five points for every dollar you spend and then you can go use that gift card at lowe's or home depot and uh basically, even though there's, no category, you get high, never. So you were, you were spending you were going to your aa office supply store because you had a credit card that earned five times points per dollar at office supply stores, and you'd go there and you'd buy a five hundred dollars home depot gift card. Is that right? Yeah, it's a home improvement so it could be a home people close or whatever. And then what did you do with those cards? Well, so that's, where things actually got interesting, I learned that I could go online and click through the chase portal and at the time get another five points for every dollar I spend at close. Or it was five points at lowe's three points at home, so you can guess who where I did my shopping, and so what I would do is I'd plan out my material list for the day, and I'm going to chase, click through the lows, and then I just, you know, put it, okay, I need twenty five two by fours, I need plywood and put you in the order, and they have it delivered to my house, and I'd also go search for like a texan off this coupon to cover that and so would use thie. A gift card to pay for them so I got five points been buying the garbage and then five points purchasing case board up so I was getting ten points for dollars at and then you know that next morning joe all my materials and it worked wonderfully awesome are you able to tell us because we've been talking about like gift cards and points now like I said, can you tell us how much you spent on these gift cards and then how many points you're able to receive? Approximately yeah, I spent about seven to ten thousand dollars on these this is for a renovation project right in your house yeah, I bought a house and it was a huge project I redid a large part of the house so I just tried to final as much of it it's like all right, ok, so you spend seven to ten thousand dollars on the renovations remember what points here suit in return for that with all the bonuses it was about seventy to eighty thousand okay could always get the full ten points because sometimes I didn't have the gift cards available because I needed to make another run off let's just settle for five points yeah, keeping my contractors happy and make progress on the house getting every point yeah that's still pretty good tio from like you know, seven thousand and spend to get seventy thousand points exactly because it was seven to ten thousand dollars you're going to be spending anyway and I love the fact that you were working with a contractor to do this as well so it wasn't that you were just going to home depot and buying your stuff for your d I y project you're sending your contractor through this circuitous route in order to earn points and miles but seventy five thousand points and miles is a lot of points and miles and I know you travel some by yourself and you also travel some with your family these points were chase points I also know that you took your first first class cathay pacific trip recently and that probably cost you about sixty five thousand miles is that right? Yeah, that was sixty seven thousand can you tell us a little bit about that flight and that experience for you? Well that was for me that trip was kind of a holy grail e I I flew over to visit some family in thailand and on the way over I flew with a friend and that was in united economy class for forty thousand united points and that I was fine I survived uh but then on the way back since I was coming back by myself I thought, ok, I'm going to book you know, with sixty seven thousand american points to book this first class of word on cafe pacific and that was amazing. Like took a bath in the cabanas at the wing lounge in hong kong. Um, you know, I slept wonderfully on the lay flat bed, got amazing service, and then the crazy thing wass when I thought about the number of miles, it cost me forty thousand united miles to get over there in a pretty mediocre assi and then there's only sixty seven thousand two comeback in first class. And so I went, why didn't I ever fly economy? Well, there's there's so many things we could say about that that's the challenge, like, once you go forward, it's really hard to go back, you know, in life, but I'm glad you made that point to because people often think, like, well, if the economy tickets, you know, eight hundred dollars or something, and the first class ticket is five thousand or ten thousand dollars will surely the number of miles must be liked extravagant. But as you just pointed out, forty thousand miles to come over one way economy and then sixty seven, five hundred, you know, to go back in first class, I mean, it's really a marginal difference for the incredible experience that you had, yeah, there there was some other fantastic things, like just I walked on the plane and they said like, oh, you know, home is very let me show you to your seat and I hadn't shown them anything, you know? They knew who I was knew my son because they just have fantastic service so there's a bunch of times that I was laughing at the you know, ridiculous luxury on the flight and I'm serving caviar steak and I love the I know that you aren't you didn't use the actual miles you earn from the renovation because those were ultimate reward points and the cafe pacific flight was through american miles that you earned, but I love the fact that just by, you know, those those runs toe, office depot and buy, you know, doing that click through the through the ultimate rewards portal you earned enough miles just through doing a couple tiny things for your home renovation toe earn such enough miles for such ridiculously amazing flight so that's a really I think a really exciting story. Did you do anything with the ultimate reward? Yeah, I took my entire family so a wife and two kids and my in laws to hawaii for we can have so okay, it was a good ship, it wasn't the best evaluation as faras sense for mile but there's tons of availability and it was really easy fight the book yeah that's fantastic it's not always about valuation we're talking about about valuation but ultimately it's it's it's what you perceive it to be and you got to take your whole family to hawaii as you said so it sounds like it was a pretty good value for you regardless of what the mathematical equation wise yeah, and another thing about it is it was easy for me to do something like that for my family because it didn't cost any money think they would have felt awkward if I'd bought the plane tickets to hawaii, but I could just say, oh, I just have these miles so here we have some three, point tickets, so it enabled the whole experience that kind of wouldn't have been possible because they wouldn't have accepted the gift of thirteen hundred dollars worth of plane tickets, but since I said, oh, it's basically free you know, they came along really and it was a great time that's phenomenal that's a great story I love I really like how you put all those pieces together and and got all that out of it. Any other questions, chris? No, I think that's great, thank you so much, nathan really appreciated nathan barry dot com that's such an awesome story and a couple of the things he mentioned we're going to cover in some of the other lessons next week when we talk about booking flights were going to talk about first class for the price of coach and a lot of the things he talked about what kind of experiences there are and why it's not always of ridiculous idea to maybe try to fly first class and he also talked about traveling with your family we're going to cover that in lesson twenty three or twenty five I believe and sixty seven thousand seventy five we're going to talk about using points in miles per family travel so it's really exciting and I just think that's such a fun story you know and he kind of set it up with he knew the principals of what he could earn from his credit card how many of you were surprised at the idea of buying gift cards with your credit card that's something chris and I actually both do quite a bit you know we both have these office these business credit cards that earn five times points at office supply stores well it office supply stores you can buy gift cards for almost anything and maybe you don't have a business card that earns five times at office supply stores but some american express cards earn three times points or two times points at supermarket was all supermarkets sell gift cards now gas stations sell gift cards and a lot of gas stations a lot of credit cards give two times points at so a lot of it's thinking through like where are the places I shop? How can I maximize those points there by using my credit card in the right place? Could I be buying a gift card somewhere and earning more points? We buy starbucks gift cards and amazon gift cards I know, lynn said before she shops at amazon and a lot of amazon's not in many of the shopping portals I don't think it's actually in any of them right now, but you can by amazon gift cards almost anywhere, so I go to the office max by um amazon gift cards at five times per dollar I'll buy a hundred dollar gift card loaded onto my amazon dot com account I've got the five hundred points have got the five hundred miles there and then whenever I buy anything through amazon, I'm not getting any extra points but I've already got in those points in advance just another quick point is when you're thinking about those minimum spends if there's things you can pre by you know, like I don't know that I need anything this month for two hundred dollars at amazon, but I know christmas is like three months away and so I'm maybe I'll go buy five hundred dollars of gift cards hey amazon gift cards at the office supply store I meet my minimum spend and then I just used that balance when I go christmas shopping so there's all kinds of different all kinds of different things that you khun d'oh so just to kind of walk through what nathan did this is the ultimate rewards the ultimate rewards mall which is very similar to any of the shopping portals that we talked about in less than five and you don't have to use the ultimate rewards portal like nathan did you can use any of those shopping portals that we talked about so this is where you see that you can get the the bonus right now it's only two times at office depot so his process he went about the gift card and then he went here to the small clicked on this and then he used his gift card when he paid for it and again just a reminder when you're thinking about how to use those different shopping malls you can I kind of get an idea and maximize by searching on tv reward so if I was in nathan situation, maybe I would search home depot our search lows here and see who's offering the biggest bonus at home depot oarlos a small warning though sometimes you can get a little bit out of control and um you don't want to get to the place where you're like I'm afraid by anything because I haven't maximized my point I personally get this way one of the big things I buy at office supply stores is gas gift cards fact, if you watch the last course, I told the big story about how I travel hacked my way across the us on a road trip and I got this problem where I was like, I can't get gas unless I bought a gas gift card, you know? And so sometimes I'm driving around on empty and I'm like, I can't stop at that gas station because I've got to get the office max first so you can get out of control, but the biggest thing is just kind of setting up a system and knowing okay, whenever I pass the office supply store, I'm gonna, you know, pick up fifty bucks in gas gift cards, and I'm gonna keep that in my wallet, so when I need gas, I'm going to do that. I know I go to starbucks, so I'm gonna load up, you know, some balance on my on my phone, so we have a category quiz in your workbook that looks at where you can, you know, earn some x your points and miles um based on the things that you're already spending money on based on what stories you shop at, what cards you have, what cards you think you might have, and we want to invite someone from the studio audience kind of tio to run through this and think about how they could maybe maximize their credit card usage a little better so we're going to casey to come up coming up and join us here in the hot yeah see it is no longer occupied that's, right? Feel free to buckle in if you're worried we're calling yourself exactly exactly champagne coming later so casey, tell us about what credit cards you have, what credit cards you're using. So right now I have the american airlines card that I'm using to accrue the fifty thousand bonus points, and then I'd recently, uh, got the chase sapphire preferred card to get the forty thousand point bonus with that and have you reached the bonuses on those two yet? The chez safar I'm currently still working on, I think I have, like a thousand left and then the american airlines I just received a bonus last week so fast with the ninety thousand points ultimately together try to go toe panama within the next month or two. Awesome. Very awesome. So what kind of things are you charging on your credit card? Um, well, initially I got the sapphire card because that's um, some car work that I need to be done so once that was paid for, um no, I just just my everyday spin, so, you know, I learned from chris you know, to this day when the better cards to give you every day spend on, I don't want to start off with too many cards standing offer this just chase sapphire preferred fantastic, and so I pulled out the two cards that he has, so you can see them and so this is the advantage card, and this card earns bonus points. The category bonuses here are mostly just for american airlines, so if you're spending money on american airlines, you get two or three two they gets to to times points bonus, but the chase sapphire do you know what you're getting double points on all travel in dining and then also the first friday of every month I get three times points for dining. Fantastic that's a little tip if you have this card first friday, I don't think it's gonna be around forever but it's gonna be around for a while nothing but it's a great bonus right now. On the first friday of every month, you actually got triple miles, so I'm always excited about going out, so if you use this card, speaking of doubling up on multiplying your bonus is if you use this card on the first friday of the month and go to one of those restaurants that's in the dining programs, you will get eight points for every dollar you spend this's a chase sapphire preferred card so a question I have a question as well could I can I go to a restaurant and buy gift card first friday of the month? Like if there's a restaurant that I go to a lot like to put lake or something? Can I like stock up on my chipotle gift cards on the first friday of the month actually increase? You know? Yes, my local chipotle was a member of her words network, which it probably isn't, but I could actually earn eight points for everything for the whole rest of the money. Yes, if you were to poll I was in the dining rewards network, but you would really just be earning three points because it's probably not, and they probably sell chipotle gift cards at your office supply store so you could get those cards any day of the week president chae will buy seven thousand just like a seventy thousand dollars worth of points your question right? You could also go on that friday with all of your office buddies and ask them to pay you in cash and then charge that and get eight points on all of their exactly exactly everything they're wonderful, I always tell people if you're gonna ask someone out on a date, you should go on the first friday of the month and taken to the dining room for its place we're coming back, are they what they do and that's we determined, like wei have a match, do we not, you know, using a capital one card you like anyhow. So, um, well, we're talking about any of the other cards, and you're thinking about your strategy and wanting to go to greece. Are there any of the other cards that you think might be what interest you, our kind of help you to get to your dreams? Yeah, I think so. Um, I think the spg card, I think definitely think that provides me with some flexibility, so that'll probably the next in line um, and eventually, actually pretty soon I'll be moving to chicago, so I'll probably end up signing up for the united car. I mean, that that is a hub and, you know, that do something a little bit differently, but now probably in my next two cards that's fantastic. So the chase sapphire, the american advantage, and then I imagine after you reach this bonus, then this won't be your primary spending, okay? And so then if you add the united united card into that mix, the united card gets bonus points when you make purchases from united and that that will help you when you fly united because you'll get free bags and all those different kinds this kind of bonuses and that was the speeches, the spg card, the spg card is a great card for a daily spent on anything that's going to earn one point, because essentially it earns one point. But if you're transferring more than twenty thousand points out of spg, you get a five thousand point bonus. So essentially you're really earning one point two, five points per dollar on star would. So if I had this card and the starwood card is my two primary spend cards, give me a star with card. Thank you. The starwood card. Any time I was eating or any kind of traveling, transport, taxi, anything I would use this card and then anything I would only be earning one point on on this card. I would put on this card instead. You know, if I was going to the supermarket, this card only gets one dollars, one point per dollar. The supermarket. This one only gets one point per dollar at the supermarket, but it has a bigger bonus to transfer out. So that's, how I would set up that fence. What questions do you have about your credit card strategy? Any other additional car that you would suggest tell us a little bit about how you plan to get to greece, you thought that through briefly. I know obviously and fly out of chicago, which would be a hub um and I haven't got to too much for than adamant exactly sure what airlines go there, but my goal was to put myself in a position to where I'd be as flexible as possible. Yes, I think you're interested in diversification and building points balances in a variety of programs, right? So I think I think these air to really great cards for that I think you're really on the right track because this one allows you to transfer points to united it allows transfer two points to southwest, which is not gonna get you all the way to grease. It also allows you to transfer points to korean, and it allows you to transfer points to sort of for singapore on dh, those british airways and so there's one transfer partner and each of the alliances. And if you remember back to lesson for when we talked about alliances, if you can transfer miles from this card into any in at least into one airline into the alliances that gives you power to fly on almost any airline cultural and starwood also gives you the same things I would say for you, the only negative thing about the starwood card is if you're really trying to earn big united balance, united is one of the on ly airlines that start what has a bad transfer ratio to so for a few transfer of miles from start with two american it's one toe one but if you transfer miles from starr starr would teo united it it's two to one so it takes to starwood points so if you're going to try to earn big united balances, you're better to earn on this card then on this card definitely so next week we're gonna be talking about booking your flight and a big part of that is gonna be looking at a work charts a big part that is looking at a word charts and also then looking at award inventory so when I think about this trip you're planning like if you're going to be building points in more than one program, not everyone can do that and it is totally possible just pick one program and do it, but if you're able to then it actually does give you some more options because when you start to go and book that flight you can start looking and say ok like there's, no availability see here but here's a great option over here that's exactly what we do when we think about where we want to go we usually think about the destination that we kind of back it up and say, well, what are the available options? And we can usually have points remember idea programs so it seems like a great strategy you think you're doing great thank you thank you okay so I think everybody has a category bonus quiz in your workbook and the category bonus quiz is about helping you understand like where you can earn two x three even more points for any given purchase if you're watching online if you have access to the course you may have the workbook or of course you could just kind of do it with us as well uh awesome so I'd love to know from our in studio audience first uh what's the most important thing that you learned today yes uh category bonuses I did not even think about it it's like an leveraging that like in some sort of crazy triangle like like it's a big like hack for me that's like you are definitely hacking the system to be oh his mind is blown yes the one thing I learned this well is to use your card and buy a gift card without card two multiplied amount of points that you can get great maybe one more person says yeah I've been sitting here looking at my amex card but I've been a member for thirty four years realizing how completely un diversified index points are good you know and I haven't done any leverage you're talking about here is a great time to scars that's right the best the best is yet to come speaking of that we've got a lot more on credit cards coming tomorrow, still, but I did want to ask any other questions related to what we discussed in this lesson before we go on. Matt. Sorry, so it's it's, never like three time like it's, never a multiplier, is just like three points for every point. So if he is it, is that true, or is it? Do you ever find some crazy, like its three times, and then because its at a gas station it's five times and then it's like, not exponential? No, I think that's. What you're asking. Unfortunately, it's, not exponential, haven't figured that out yet, but you never know if we, if we figured out, we'll push it up in the travel acting cartel.

Class Description

Who wouldn’t love to know how to earn enough miles and points for two airline tickets and three hotel nights? In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality, Chris Guillebeau and Stephanie Zito can show you how it's done. 

Travel feeds our creative spirits, allows us to discover new viewpoints, and fuels our work. In this class, you’ll find out how you can make your dream of journeying to the world’s most far-flung places a practical and affordable reality.

Chris and Stephanie have made it their life's mission to help others experience all the thrill and adventure that world travel can offer. In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality. 

Chris and Stephanie will help you: 

  • Master the system of Frequent Flier miles and hotel points
  • Set up a personal points-earning strategy – even if you don’t fly
  • Upgrade your dream vacation experience at no cost to you

In short, daily lessons, Chris and Stephanie will cover all aspects of how to plan your vacation including financing your trip. You’ll learn how to set your savings and point-earning strategy so you are armed with everything you need to relax and enjoy your vacation once you depart. They’ll teach you how to book flights and hotels so you get the very best experience at the absolute best rate. You’ll also get insider tips from professional globetrotters on traveling solo and as a family.

By the end of this course you’ll learn everything you need to know to save money, minimize hassle, and make the most of your travel experience.

Your dream destination, and a life of regular traveling, is now available to you – no matter your budget. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

40 Ways to Use Ultimate Rewards Points

Dream Trip Workbook

7 Habits of Highly Effective Travel Hacking Couples

Dream Trip Credit Card Tracker

Upgrade Unlocked Sneak Peak

10 Tips for Travel Hacking Families

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Highly recommended! This is one of the best CreativeLive courses I've ever taken and a great value. There's a lot of excellent information here, presented in a fun and accessible way. The CL "boot camp" approach was perfect for this topic because it dispenses the material in bite size pieces with very doable action steps along the way. The corresponding Facebook group adds even more value and camaraderie. It's a great place to clear up any questions or confusion that may come up. What an amazing resource! By the end of the course, not only will you have learned a tremendous amount, you will actually have something tangible to show for it!

a Creativelive Student

This is a fabulous course. Stephanie and Chris are both so knowledgeable, helpful, and easy going. They clearly love and practice what they're teaching. And they're open to learning from the students too. The course is packed with information, delivered in an immediately useful way. In fact, they emphasize again and again that the point is to USE the information to REALLY take your "Dream Trip" soon! The Facebook group is the best I've ever experienced with an online course. Stephanie and Chris are remarkably present, responsive, understanding, and generous with their knowledge and experience. I highly recommend this course.