How We’re Learning to Travel for Free with Credit Card Points

Picture of an ocean and islands

This year, my husband will travel to Japan once by himself. Then, a few months later, our family of five will go to Japan. We knew this summer filled with two international vacations was an opportunity to learn how to travel for free with credit card points and airline miles. We could take these trips and accrue miles to vacation at some other destination later for cheap or free.

Our Previous Credit Card Points

Years ago, I tried to learn how to travel for free. (It didn’t work!) However, I still have three credit cards that give points, so I routinely use those points for cash. I then used the money to help pay for domestic travel. While this system did help defray our vacation expenses, it wasn’t as efficient as I would like.

How We’re Learning to Travel for Free with Credit Card Miles

We tried to do some basic internet searches, but there’s so much information out there that I felt overwhelmed. Instead, I started the free course from 10X Travel. The course has a lot of information, so I haven’t completed it yet. However, I did get enough information to book my husband’s first trip to Japan.

Strategies We’re Using

We’re using several strategies as we learn how to travel for free with credit card miles.

Loyalty to One Airline

We decided to sign up with Delta Airlines. Our other choice was American Airlines. We chose Delta because

  • the airline flies to more locations we want to visit than American Airlines,
  • we have previous experience with Delta,
  • reviews said the airline staff was friendlier than other airlines, and, most importantly,
  • the points don’t expire

Utilizing Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

During the sign-up process for Delta, we were offered the chance to sign up for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, which we did. If we charged $2,000 in the first six months of using the card, we earned an additional 70,000 miles. American Express allows you to ask for your credit card number before you get the card, so we used it immediately to book my husband’s flight. Within two weeks, we had charged the required $2,000 and had 70,000 miles added to our account.

We will use the card for most purchases, especially our groceries and dining out (though we rarely eat out), because we earn 2x rewards for those.

In addition to earning points, we wanted this card because there are no foreign transaction fees.

Final Thoughts

We still have a long way to go as we learn to travel for free with credit card points. However, we’ve taken the first steps, and by the end of this summer, we expect to have quite a few miles built up between credit card usage and booking all of our flights with Delta. Once we learn additional strategies to accrue points, we’ll accelerate our pace to take a free vacation.

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