My First Credit Card
Our first trip to Turks and Caicos was the first time that we used points from a credit card to cover our plane tickets. Before me buying my first vehicle, I never owned a credit card. When I was completing the loan for my first car, the bank asked if I wanted a credit card. I immediately said “no.” My parents never had credit cards. They always taught me that if I did not have the money to buy something, then I just needed to save up until I could. They were so against credit cards. So, I was scared.
Even though I was scared of cards, I let the bank talk me into getting a credit card to help out with my credit. After all, this car was my first ever large purchase that I had to borrow money for from the bank. So, this card sat in my wallet for months with the sticker on it. Then, one day, I decided to use it.
It was at that moment, that my husband and I both started using the credit card for everything we did. We were disciplined and put everything we did on the card. We never let the card get a balance and paid it at the end of every month.
Fast forward several years after getting card, we were getting ready to book our yearly trip to the Caribbean. It was then that we discovered we had really racked up some points. We had enough points after years of putting everything on the card that we were able to pay for our plane tickets through points.
Excited was an understatement and my point to this little story is that credit cards can be a good thing if you use them appropriately. I am not suggesting that you go out and put tons of things on a card that you can’t pay for just so you get some free plane tickets. You must be smart about it. Do not get in credit card debt just for points. I mean, it wouldn’t make much sense to be like “oh, yeah, I got me some free plane tickets but I am up to my eyeballs in credit card debt.” Don’t do that.
Bancorpsouth Credit Card
This first card that I used for points was the Bancorpsouth Platinum Credit Card. This card gave you 1x points on all your purchases. It took us years to get enough plane tickets using this card. Even with a small business, it took us quite some time to accumulate enough for plane tickets. The Bancorpsouth Platinum Credit Card has no annual fees and redeeming for points is fairly easy. When I got ready to redeem, I just called the number provided and they booked the tickets I requested and emailed me the information.
Even though this card got us a free set of plane tickets, I do not recommend it. There are so many other options out there that allow you to get points much faster. Always go for more than 1x miles.
The Discovery of Great Points Cards
After getting back from our trip, my husband was breezing around on the internet for different rewards credit cards. We had just used all our points for this trip. We wanted a faster way to earn points for our next trip.
We stumbled across The Points Guy. He provided great advice and stayed up to date on the best cards for travel points.
At this point, we decided to cancel our Bancorpsouth Card and move on to a bigger, better card.
Capital One Venture
The card we moved on to was the Capital One Venture Card. When we got this card, we cancelled our Bancorpsouth Card and moved all our monthly bills over to the Capital One Card.
There are two different Capital One Venture Rewards Cards. First, you have the card that gives you 2x miles per dollar on every purchase. Not only do you get 2x miles per dollar on every purchase, but you get 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. This particular card has a yearly fee of $59. The first year is free and they start billing you the $59 on the second year.
The second type of card they offer is the Capital One Venture One Rewards Card. This card gives you 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase. The sign on bonus is 20,000 miles when you spend $1000 in the first three months. This card has no yearly fee.
After looking at both of these options, we decided to go with the Capital One Venture Card that offered the 40,000 bonus miles. I know spending $3,000 on a credit card in three months seems a little scary to some people. For us, it was normal. We were already putting everything possible on a credit card and paying off at the end of the month.
Even though we put everything on the card, we wanted to make sure we hit those bonus miles plus some. We decided to take this card out when all our insurances came due. By doing this, we had extra payments on the card. This allowed us to hit the bonus no problem. After we hit the bonus, we continued to collect the points. Having 2x miles on everything really adds up. I mean, you get the points you need twice as fast as 1x miles.
By the time we got ready to book our next trip, we had enough points for another vacation. Exciting, I know. So, we used our points and got another free round of plane tickets to the Turks and Caicos. After all, we were completely addicted to Turks after our first trip.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus+
After getting back from another trip to Turks and Caicos, we decided it was time to move on to another card so that we could get some bonus points. Our next card of choice was the Barclaycard Arrival Plus+.
This particular card also gives 2x miles on every purchase and offers 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. So, what did we do? We got this card. We opened this card up around the holidays. We always know we are going to spend more money during that time. So, we reached more bonus miles. By the time we opened us this card, we were traveling to Turks and Caicos more frequently. We did not wait on this card to get enough points for two plane tickets, so we used our points for one ticket.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus+ is a great card. In addition to 2x miles for every purchase, you get 5% of your miles back to use towards your next trip. For example, if you redeem 40,000 miles, you will get 2,000 miles back for your next trip redemption.
This card also offers different ways to redeem your points including statement credit. If you spend more than $100, you can redeem your miles for a statement credit.
The question I often get asked is, “How hard is it to redeem those points?” My answer is easy. The first time we redeemed points; I just called Bancorpsouth and gave them my trip details. I had exact flight numbers. With that information, they booked the trip and sent me a confirmation to my email.
For the Capital One Venture Card and the Barclaycard Arrival+, I book the trips online. I’ve never had any trouble. I prefer booking online vs speaking to someone on the phone. I like to look at what I am booking and know exactly what I am getting. Often times the customer service and booking hotlines have people that are hard to understand. I cannot understand them because of their accent and they cannot understand me because of my good ole slow talking southern accent.
Do Not Pay Full Price for Plane Tickets
People often hesitate traveling on planes due to the cost of plane tickets. I completely understand the hesitation, especially if you have children. By using points, you can get your tickets completely covered depending on how many tickets you buying. If you are just a couple, there is pretty much nothing holding you back from accumulating enough points to get your airfare free.
I know there are many different circumstances that can play into getting your tickets free. Things like, the number of tickets you need and where you are flying from. Even if you do not get your entire trip covered, something is always better than nothing. If you are just going once a year, points will really help you! Of course, if you become like my husband and I, you will not get enough points to completely cover every trip. But, like I said, every point helps.
So, if you want to go on a trip but are hesitant due to cost, get a points card. Get the points card at a time in your life when you have the most payments or during Christmas. Get it at a time when you are spending more money. This will ensure you get your points. Then, you can continue to save until you reach what you need to book a trip. Plane tickets are a large expense when traveling. Getting those covered will help so much!
Tips for Rewards Cards
- Get a card that offers 2x miles per purchase
- Open the card during your “highest” bills months
- Pay everything via credit card and pay off EACH month
I hope these tips help everyone. They have certainly helped my husband and me. There are always new cards coming out that offer different points. Play around with the cards. Sign up, get your points and then cancel the card and move on to another one.
If you play your cards right, you will constantly have points for travel!