Smart People Use This Simple Trick to Get Free Vacations

Please Note: The Ink Plus® Business Credit Card is no longer available for new applications.

Have you ever wondered how some people can afford to travel so often, or so luxuriously?

While you’re stuck at work, some people you know are frolicking through cities like Paris and London, dancing the night away at the hottest night clubs, or relaxing on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches – and all on an average salary. But, how?

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Unless they hit the lottery or received an inheritance, most of your friends are probably paying for their trips the old-fashioned way – with credit card rewards. If you want to do the same, you first need to understand how it all works.

In this article

    How Smart People Are Paying for Their Summer Vacations

    While many families spend years saving up for an awesome summer getaway, the smartest people you know are earning exclusive rewards, free hotel stays, and cheap airfare for pennies on the dollar with travel rewards.

    The basic strategy is this: They a) sign up for the best rewards cards offers out there, b) fulfill the minimum spending requirement to earn a huge sign-up bonus, and c) redeem the rewards for any type of travel they desire.

    The key to making this work isn’t running up a huge tab for things they don’t need, however. Instead of hitting the mall for a shopping spree, smart travelers meet minimum spending requirements by using their rewards cards to pay regular bills and expenses.

    In addition to regular purchases like groceries and gas, some uncommon bills people pay with credit to meet their minimum spending requirements include:

    • Utility bills
    • Cable and Internet bills
    • Phone bills
    • Rent payments
    • Mortgage payments
    • College tuition
    • Life insurance
    • Car insurance
    • Tax payments

    The other important piece of the puzzle is a dedication to remaining debt-free. Because credit card interest can be a killer, often adding up to hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars over the course of a year.

    If you’re trying to earn free stuff, the last thing you need to do is pay interest for the privilege. Smart people already know that, and they avoid credit card interest like the plague.

    Best Travel Rewards Offers Right Now

    In order to score the free hotel stays and airfare everyone else is getting their hands on, it’s important to sign up for rewards cards that offer the maximum value — including generous ongoing rewards and lucrative sign-up bonuses. Here are a few offers you should consider right now:

    Best Travel Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

    There are plenty of reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is consistently ranked as the top travel rewards card here at The Simple Dollar and elsewhere. Not only does this card offer a huge sign-up bonus, but it makes point accrual easy too; with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

    But the real value is in how you can redeem those points. When you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards you will receive 25% more value. Further, you can transfer your points to a number of hotel and airline loyalty programs for even more value – including programs like Hyatt Passport, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott, and British Airways.

    For Peak Perks, Pair it With the Chase Freedom® Card

    The best complementary card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card by far is the Chase Freedom®. Because when you own both cards, you can pool rewards for maximum redemption value through Chase Ultimate Rewards – including discounted travel booked directly through the portal or point transfers to all of your favorite hotel and airline loyalty programs.

    As a card with no annual fee, the Chase Freedom® is also one you can keep for the long haul. And the rewards sweeten the pot; beyond the sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom® allows you to earn 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases and 5 points per dollar on categories that rotate every quarter. Also, earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

    Best Card for Business: Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

    If you have a business, are working a side hustle, or enjoy any money-making hobby, you can also score big in the world of travel rewards. With the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, you not only earn the biggest sign-up bonus of them all, but you also get the chance to earn 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases, 2 points per dollar at hotels and gas stations (up to $50,000), and 5 points per dollar spent (up to $50,000) at office supply stores or on phone, Internet, and cable TV services each year.

    Just like with the others, you can use your points in myriad ways. Redeem them for travel with any airline or hotel chain directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a 20% discount, transfer them at a one-to-one ratio to your favorite loyalty program, or redeem them for cash or gift cards. The choice is yours.

    Please Note: Information about the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

    Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view our disclosures, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.

    Holly Johnson

    Contributing Writer

    Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.