Travel Tip Tuesday…

Just like storm clouds aren’t going to roll in and rain free boxes of cereal from the sky… Well… okay maybe this week they did 🙂  A free vacation isn’t going to fall from the sky either…It’s going to take a little bit of work on your part if you want to see the Emerald Isles or anywhere else on your list of 1,000 places to see before you die.


As you’re reading this please keep in mind this is how I was able to score 3 almost free vacations to Europe over the last 5 years… Everyone is different and the way I choose to live might be different from the way you live.  The key is to absorb the information and use what might be helpful to you and you’re future travel plans.

Okay… now that we have that out of the way…

Mavis was able to fly to Europe 3 times for almost free (I had to pay the tax on the tickets) because of  this Credit Card.

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

I first heard about this card through my brother in law.  He travels/flies a lot for work (weekly actually) and was telling us how he was able to fly his family and friends to Hawaii for (almost) free because of all the points he had accumulated.

I thought… Ya… must be nice… of course you were able to rack up points like crazy… you fly on a weekly basis for work.

But the idea of free tickets kept nagging at me…

I really wanted our family of 4 to go to Europe… but tickets were $1,200 each… Not gonna happen.

Or so I thought….

A  few weeks later… I went ahead and signed up for the credit card (the SPG card is free the first year).  As soon as I made my first purchase I was awarded 10,000 points… and the deal was… if I could spend $15,000 dollars in 6 months I would receive an additional 15,000 points… which I did.

How did I rack up so much spending?  Easy.  I simply put everything possible on my credit card.  Gas, Food, Car Payment, Clothing, Utilities, Entertainment,Dr. visits, you name it… if I could charge it… I did.  I didn’t even care if the bill was .27 cents… I still charged it.   We were also lucky to score some extra points because my husband travels a handful of times a year for work and when he does he charges all his purchases… he gets reimbursed of course… but the points are ours to keep.  And occasionally… my parents will call and want me to order something off the internet for them… (they don’t like using their credit card online so I simply make the purchase for them and they reimburse me).

But that’s not the best part.

When you accumulate 20,000 points on the SPG card you can transfer them to your frequent flyer program and receive 25,000 frequent flyer points in exchange for your 20,000 SPG points.  We have Alaska Airlines set up as our frequent flyer program.  Why Alaska Airlines?  Well… because on Alaska Airlines it only takes 20,000 points to earn a free domestic ticket… and 40,000 points to earn a ticket to Europe (as long as you are willing to fly to Europe between October 15th and May 15… travel outside of that window and it will cost you more points).

Now… I do realize this type of travel planning does not work for everyone.  If you want to try to earn free airfare or hotel stays this way you’ll have to remember 1 very important thing.  Pay your credit card balance in full each month … If you cannot pay it off each month… then don’t do it.  It makes no sense to be paying interest on a credit card to earn free travel… because in the end… you will have paid for your trip via monthly interest payments.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die

So… in a nut shell. that’s how were were able to travel to Europe for almost free over the last few years… We used our credit cards for everything possible… and were rewarded with free airfare (except the taxes) and hotel nights.

And really… so what if it takes you 2 or even 4 years to save up enough points to score  almost free tickets to your dream vacation hot spot…  At least you’d have a plan… a goal… something to look forward too.

And I think that’s my point.

If you plan ahead… it’s much easier to keep your goal within reach.


Now Save Up to $525 when booking a F+H Vacation Package with Travelocity.


  • Lori

    we just ordered our cards and put a hold on that book from the library!

  • April

    Loved reading this because we do the exact same thing! Our family of four flies to Hawaii every Christmas for free! Except now there’s a charge for luggage…Thanks for the great read and keep the stories coming 😉

  • Heather

    I’m impressed. We don’t have any credit cards – we try to pay cash for everything – and I hate flying, but this might be a great way to score some cheap travel for us. If I could go somewhere cool enough, it would be worth the discomfort of going through security at the airport – lol. Might look into it. Thanks for the links!

  • Molly

    Mavis, Thanks for the great tips!!! After the first year, have you paid the yearly fee for this card?

    • mavis

      Great question… about a month before your annual renewal… simply call the credit card company and tell them although you like using their card …paying $69 a year for it is not something you’re interested in doing. 9 times out of 10 if you have paid your balance in full at the end of each billing cycle and have been an excellent customer they are happy to remove the fee. That’s been my experience anyway.

  • Lisa

    That’s similar to how all 3 of us were able to fly to Disney on both coasts the past 2 years, basically free! American Express & Southwest Chase cards. And most definitely if you do these deals, pay it off monthly!!

  • Keegan

    Mavis, how do you get around paying the yearly charge? If your paying that, then depending on how many points you need and how long it takes you to get them, your flying cheaper possibly but not free…. I’m confused as to how your manageing this.

    • mavis

      Great question… about a month before your annual renewal… simply call the credit card company and tell them although you like using their card …paying $69 a year for it is not something your’re interested in doing. 9 times out of 10 if you have paid your balance in full at the end of each billing cycle and have been an excellent customer they are happy to remove the fee. That’s been my experience anyway.

  • Stephanie

    How many tickets were you able to get for free over the 5 years?

  • Ann Wilson

    I am VERY interested in this. I have tried to google to find the best card w/ the most benefits, and I may be wrong, but it seems like the best way to get points is to go with a card that offers an initial bonus for signing up and spending a certain amount of $$ in a period of time after signing up. But after that they all seem to be pretty similar rewards of 1 point per dollar spent. So it seems like the best way to do it would be to get a card, use it for the points in the first year, then close it and open a different card? But that would probably be pretty bad for credit reports? Or am I understanding it incorrectly?

  • Rachel

    I see that you earned 10,000pts after your first purchase and 15,000 pts after spending $15,000. At what rate do you accumulate points after that? Is it per $15,000 of spending. Do you get any points if you spend less? And lastly, how long did it take to acquire enough points for 4 tickets to Europe? ( I see you have gone several times in the last five years)…………………That is if you don’t mind answering my battery of questions! Thanks!

  • Donaca

    I’ve always wondered how difficult it is to use your points toward air-line tickets…I’ve heard rumors that it can be a pain? Did you run into any glitches or did it work smoothly?

  • Molly

    Mavis, I need another post on this!!! I really want to go on a trip somewhere FAB!! I just got my card in the mail…now what do I do?? How do you connect your points to Alaskan Air? What was your play-by-play? Did you have enough points to book hotel rooms too? Is there another trip in the works? I need your details!!!
    At my house you are referred to as Marvelous Mavis!!

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