August 12, 2016 fredricaantwi 0Comment

As kin of the infamous Joanne the Scammer, you may be thinking “How are you scamming me this time around Fredrica?”.
Well, good news. I’m not… this time.

On August 30, 2016, I will be embarking on my first solo trip and I will be headed to Europe for three weeks. My itinerary right now is:

  • DC to Paris
  • Paris to Florence
  • Florence to Rome
  • Rome to Athens
  • Athens to Santorini
  • Santorini to Mykonos
  • Mykonos to Madrid
  • Madrid to DC

All of this cost me $300 and 60,000 United “loyalty” points.

At the time I am writing this (August 11th 1:42 PM), I am currently freaking out a little. I have never traveled for a vacation solo, and while I will be meeting my friend and roommate Naa Adei in Greece, I will be traveling solo for two entire weeks. I won’t allow the devil to scare me into being afraid to live my life, all I can do is pray that God gives me safe traveling mercies – Hebrews 13:6, 2 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 94:19.

So how did I do it?*

  1. I signed up for a travel credit card that gives points
    There are several ways to travel “for free” with travel points. I chose to use Chase cards to accumulate travel points. The two most popular cards are

    1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
      • This card will get you 50,000 points  if you spend $4,000 in three months. I was able to meet this requirement by paying my rent, student loan payments, utilities, groceries, and just about everything else with my credit card. At the end of the statement, I would pay off the entire balance in FULL to prevent me from incurring interest
      • If you are interested in getting this card, use this link to learn about the details of the card and apply.
    2.  Chase Ink Plus
      • This is a business card and since I have an Employer Identification Number for Locks of Curls, it was pretty easy to get approved for this.
      • This card will currently get you 60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in three months. I used the same methods as above, along with some manufactured spending (I may write about this in another post) to meet the spend requirement.
      • If you are interested in getting this card, use this link to learn about the details of the card and apply.
  2.  Figured out my travel goal
    I started off knowing that I wanted to visit Greece. People rave about the views and for my first solo trip, I thought going somewhere gorgeous would ensure that I would have the best experience.
  3. How can I use my points?
    that allowed me to visit all of the above places for only 60,000 points.
    While researching which flights I could book with my 60,000 points from Chase Ink Plus, I learned that with United award (points redeemed) tickets, my itinerary could include one stopover and two open jaws. In short, this means:

    1. Instead of doing a simple roundtrip of DC->Athens, Greece, I can do:
      DC->Paris; then an open-jaw meaning my next flight is out of a different airport
      Athens, Greece -> Madrid; a stopover (a ‘layover’ over 24 hours) in Madrid
      Madrid->DC; return home
      This cost me 60,000 points and $130 in taxes/fees
  4. Traveling everywhere else
    My flights between Paris to Italy and through the Greek Islands were purchased in cash since traveling throughout Europe is actually not very expensive.
    In total these 6 flights cost around $170

Wow, that ended up being way more technical than I wanted it to be. If you’re scratching your head wondering what the hell I am talking about, feel free to ask questions in the comments. If you have ever used award points to travel, I would love to hear about your travel stories too.

*Disclosure: This is not for everyone, especially if you are not financially literate or have less than good credit*

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