How to Get 23 Months of Free Flights with the Southwest Companion Pass

Act by 10/4 (ideally *on* 10/3) to Maximize the Best Deal in Travel, Worth More than $1,800

The Southwest Companion Pass is arguably the best deal in travel. It allows a companion to fly for free with you on any Southwest flights you book. The pass is good from the time you earn it until the end of the following calendar year. The opportunity has arisen to enable a companion to fly for free with you for 23 months: most of 2018 and all of 2019. But you have to act by October 4, 2017 (and, ideally, on 10/3) to take advantage of this opportunity.

The Southwest Companion Pass works on all Southwest flights.

Following is more about the Companion Pass and exactly what you need to do by October 4th in order to score 23 months of free flights for your companion (and a lot of free flights for you as well): (more…)

Last Chance for Merrill+ Card, Worth $500 – $1000

The Generous/Easy Bonus on this Card is Rumored to End “Mid-September”

One of the best credit card offers on the market—the Merrill+ card—will be discontinued by September 18-19 at the latest. The card has no annual fee and comes with 50,000 bonus points. Those points are worth $500 in cash or up to $1,000 in airfare.

Sarah's Merrill+ card

My wife’s Merrill+ card

In this post I’ll cover the basics of the card and how to apply for it. But if you’re interested, you should act fast. A source told Doctor of Credit that the card will be discontinued on September 18 or 19. But another source told Frequent Miler that the card will be discontinued “mid-September,” which means it might not last until September 18. (more…)

How to Blow $4,000 on a $56 Vacation

It’s All Too Easy to Do

When people go on vacation, they often pay face value. According to Forbes, the average vacation costs $1,145 per person or $4,580 for a family of four. I love family vacations because I like going on an adventure with my wife and kids. But I would never consider paying over $4,000 for a vacation. And I don’t want you to, either.

The three kids and I on the beach during our vacation to San Diego

On my last two family vacations combined, I spent less than $100 total on hotels and flights. Earlier this year, we took a $5,000+ vacation to Cabo San Lucas for $42. Last week, we took a short (2 night) vacation to San Diego for $56. Had we paid face value, the hotel and flights would have cost $4,012.

If vacations are part of your life—or if you’d like them to be—you should seriously consider a total paradigm shift in terms of how much you think they need to cost.

In this post I’ll share how we spent so little on a great vacation. And I’ll show how you can do similarly. (more…)

Should You Get a Credit Card that Earns 5x Rewards?

You’ve probably seen commercials advertising credit cards that earn 5% cash back or 5 points per dollar spent. Compared with standard cards that often earn just 1% cash back or 1 point per dollar spent, these 5x cards seem amazing. But are they? Should you get them?

A number 5 made out of coins, representing 5x

In this post I’ll cover the 4 main cards that earn 5x rewards. I’ll then provide my recommendation for whether to get them. (more…)

Cashback vs. Miles and Points: Which is Better?

How to Get the Most out of Credit Card Spend

A reader named Blake wrote in to ask me the following question about credit card rewards: If your intent is to travel, would you rather have travel points rewarded you or straight cash? My thought is that with cash I have more freedom to search the cheapest flight, at the right time, going to the right place. Do you think this is a true assumption?

Man pondering whether cashback is the way to go

It’s a great question—one that probably a lot of folks have. Years ago, I agreed with Blake’s assumption. “Cash is king,” I thought. Often, it is. But sometimes, you can do better—even much better—with miles and points. Let me explain. (more…)

How My Family Just Took a $5,218 Vacation to Cabo San Lucas for $42

My family of five and my folks returned last week from a great vacation to Cabo San Lucas. I’ll tell you a bit about the trip via the pictures and captions in this post. But mostly I want to share how the seven of us paid a total of $42 for roundtrip flights and 5 nights at a 4-star resort. I want to give you ideas for how you can do the same. Because you can.

McAdam Family at Sunset in Cabo

My family attempting to pose for a picture on our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas

We had expenses on the ground such as transportation and food that went beyond the $42. But that’s how much we spent on hotel and flights. Here’s how: (more…)

Last Chance for the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 Point Bonus

Saturday, March 11 is the Last Day to Get the 100k Signup Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve ranks #1 on my list of Best Credit Card Signup Offers. Indeed, with its lucrative 100,000 point signup bonus, it is arguably the best credit card ever offered.

Megaphone Displaying "Last Chance," as this is the Last Chance to get the 100k Signup Bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve

As I detailed in this post, the card will net most folks at least $1,650 of value toward travel.

To get the 100k points, you need to spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months of card membership. Getting $1,650 of value by spending $4,000 is like getting 41% back on that $4,000 of spend. (more…)

How to Decide Whether to Keep or Close a Credit Card

How to Travel for Free: Part 7 of 7

To fuel free travel in the manner I’ve described in this series of posts, you need to open credit cards with big signup bonuses on an ongoing basis. The question then arises: should you ever close a credit card you open and, if so, when?

Overwater bungalows, Bora Bora

My basic rule is this: You should close a credit card if its annual benefits do not outweigh its annual fee. Otherwise, you should leave it open.

Let me unpack that rule a bit. (more…)

How to Use the Miles and Points You Acquire

How to Travel for Free: Part 6 of 7

Throughout this series of posts I’ve argued that miles and points are useful not only for free travel but also for freeing up money you would otherwise have spent on travel. To maximize your savings, there are two basic considerations. First, earn the most miles and points for the least expenditure of time and money. Second, redeem miles and points for the most value.

My advice on earning the most miles and points is straightforward. Go for Chase cards first (provided you have opened fewer than 5 cards in the previous 24 months). Then, open the most lucrative signup offers on my Best Credit Card Signup Offers page.

(more…)

5 Creative Ways to Meet the Minimum Spend Requirement in Order to Get the Sign-up Bonus

How to Travel for Free: Part 5 of 7

A couple months ago a friend approached me with a frantic look on her face. Ready to change a tire, use my knife, or recommend a brand of scotch (hey, I thought it might be a real emergency), I sprang to my feet. “I’m afraid,” she stammered. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet the minimum spend on my new United card….”

France, a great miles and points destination

Knife and pride restored to their proper place, I reassured her: there are many creative ways to meet the minimum spend. (more…)