Travel Hacking: Round Five

The year is quickly coming to an end.  It has been an exciting year for me.  From a financial standpoint, it was my first year as a dedicated travel hacker.  Travel hacking is a great way for people to be rewarded for spending money in the form of lucrative sign-on bonuses.  Most of these bonuses are paid in the form of points.

In the past, I would just use my bank point’s card.  That would provide me with about $500 back at the end of the year.  While it was nice to use that extra cash for holiday gifts, it was peanuts compared to what is available if you are an active travel hacker.

Travel hacking is not for everyone.  If you have bad credit, this series is not for you.  To be a successful travel hacker, you have to have good credit (above 750 credit score), be well organized, and be able to pay your credit card balance in full every month.  If the cardholder cannot strictly follow those rules, the credit card company will hack them in the form of high-interest rates.

The last card that I opened in 2018 was the Capital One Spark Miles for Business.  The main focus of my travel hacking is to continue to stay within the Chase 5/24 Rule.  The Capital One Spark Miles for Business is a business card and does not count towards the 5/24 rule.  It is a good card to earn points if you are close to exceeding the Chase 5/24 rule. 

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card offers some nice rewards.  Like with all of my previous cards, the main reason why I opened this card was for the sign-on bonus.  This card offers a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once a cardholder spends $4,500 within 3 months from opening the card.

Redeeming the points is a simple process.  Capital One cardholders can book their travel directly on the Capital One website.  The other option is to call and do so over the phone.  Their customer service department was very helpful when I had to call them with a question.

At this point, I have enough points earned to cover all of my planned trips that are coming up in 2019.  I cover those upcoming trips in my post Travel Hacking: Round Four. My plan for these points is to use them to pay for my hotel when I attend FinCon19 in Washington D.C. next September.  Washington D.C. is only about 190 miles from where I live, so I will be driving to that event.  Otherwise, I would have used these points for airfare.

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card has many other benefits for cardholders.  A big selling point for me beyond the sign-on bonus is that there is a $0 introductory fee for the first year.  After that, the annual fee is just $95 per year.

For every $1 in spending, cardholders earn 2 miles.  There are not any limits on the number of miles that can be earned.  The miles will not expire as long as the cardholder keeps the card open.

While I am using the card for travel, there are other options for redeeming points.  Cardholders have the option of receiving cash back.  There is also the option to redeem points for gift cards.  Like with most premium rewards cards, the sweet spot in terms of value is when the points are redeemed for travel.

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card does not come with foreign transaction fees.  That is a wonderful benefit for those who travel internationally.  Cardholders can fly on any airline.  There are not any blackout dates.  Points can be redeemed for flights during the busy holiday seasons.  There are also not any restrictions on seating.  

If you are more into earning cash back instead of points, Capital One has a sister card for those people.  The Capital One Sparke Cash for Business is similar to the Miles Card, but instead of having a sign-on bonus of 50,000 points, the Cash Card has a sign-on bonus of $500 after $4,500 in spend within the first three months.  This is a card that I am planning on opening in the future.

Since I started travel hacking, I have truly come to believe that if I am going to spend money, I want to be rewarded.  My wife and I enjoy traveling.  We normally take at least two trips per year.  Travel hacking allows us to travel for free. 

If you are super frugal like me and are mature about credit, travel hacking might be a great option for you too.  I see it as low hanging fruit in the world for personal finance.  I take the money that I otherwise would spend on travel and add it to savings.

If you are interested in reading about my first year as a travel hacker, start with Travel Hacking: Round One.  That is the first post in this series and a good place to start.  The next post in this series will be available in the coming months in Travel Hacking: Round Six.

Do you take advantage of travel rewards cards?  I have only been travel hacking for one year and am just a beginner.  There is a whole universe of optimizing the value of these points.  If you have experience with the Capital One Business Cards or other premium rewards cards, please share your experience in the comments section below.

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