Collecting half a million points to travel to Europe isn’t easy. One of my readers mentioned that my post on planning a $40K trip for $1K is “disingenuous at best” and asks “what did it cost to get the points?”. I think this is a legitimate question and I appreciate the interest. It’s hard to believe that collecting half a million points “didn’t cost anything” other than time. I’ll have to admit that it definitely isn’t a cake walk, but it is completely doable if you meet these simple qualifications:
- Decent Credit Score. I would say if you have a credit score in the 700s that you are capable of signing up for credit cards to earn thousands of points and miles.
- Fiancially Organized. If you have a tendency to forget payments or aren’t very organized with your bills and expenses, credit card churning is not for you.
- Income. Contrary to some people’s belief, some sort of income helps a lot in accumulating your points by charging all your bills and expenses on credit cards. It’s possible to have little or no income and collect points solely on credit card sign ups, but I don’t recommend doing so because it’s not the most financially wise decision in my opinion.
- Not applying for a big loan. I would advise to not apply for more than 1 credit card 1 year before your big loan. I think one or two credit cards is fine because applying for a credit card is a normal thing, but applying for 5 or 6 credit cards might have an outside person question your credibility. I was able to get a mortgage loan at a decent rate even with credit card churning (lucky!), however I wouldn’t advise it because it might affect it.
As mentioned before here are the 465,000 points I spent on my trip:
|Los Angeles to London British Air First Class||$24,000||$ 658||125,000||2 Award Tickets, $329 in taxes per person|
|4 Nights at Hillton Trafalgar||2,000||145,000||Hilton AXON Award – no longer available|
|London Gatwick to Munich||113||113||–||2 EasyJet Tickets|
|3 Nights at Residence Inn Munich City East||600||40,000||20,000 per night (now 25k), used free night from Megabonus|
|2 Nights at Hotel Bavaria Berchtesgaden||300||29,800||Barclaycard Points from Barclaycard Arrival|
|Sheraton Salzburg||400||14,800||Cash and Points before devaluation, and Barclay points.|
|Sheraton Frankfurt Airport||300||10,500||Cash and Points before devaluation, and Barclay points.|
|Salzburg to Frankfurt to Los Angeles Lufthansa Business Class||13,000||250||100,000||2 Award Tickets, $125 in taxes per person|
Collecting half a million points to travel to Europe took some time and patience. It was definitely not an overnight thing. Here are the credit card sign ups and methods I used, I added the sign-up bonuses at the time I signed up. Note that the sign-up bonuses may differ now (no affiliate links):
|Points/Miles||Credit Cards||Annual Fee|
|125K AA Miles||American Airline Business Credit Card – 50K miles, Bankdirect checking account over 1.5 years, SPG AMEX 30K Bonus||Waived 1st year|
|145,000 Hilton Hhonors||2X 50K Citi Hilton Cards two-browser trick (now dead) and 60K AMEX Hilton no-fee version||$0|
|40,000 Marriott Points||70K Chase Marriott Credit Card||Waived 1st year|
|46,300 Barclaycard Points||40K Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard||Waived 1st year|
|9,800 SPG Points||SPG AMEX 30K Bonus||Waived 1st year|
|100,000 United Miles||Chase Ink Bold 50K, Chase United 55K||Waived 1st year|
- I ended up converting the cash portion of the “cash and points” redemption to Barclaycard Arrival points.
- I applied for two no-fee Citi Hilton cards using the two-browser trick, but it doesn’t work anymore.
- Some of these credit cards have lower sign up bonuses now like the AA Business Card and Chase United card.
- I paid $0 annual fees.
- I applied for 8 credit cards over about a 9 month spand to collect half a million credit card points. The minimum spend requirements were met mostly by Amazon Payments, gift card churning, Vanilla Reloads, and everyday spending.
I’ll have to admit that it is hard to answer the reader’s question of the “cost of obtaining the points”. As shown above, I applied for 8 credit cards and that isn’t something everyone wants to do. It does take time and organization. I mostly used no-fee ways to meet minimum spend as I mentioned in this post. However, I did mix some Vanilla Reload cards to meet minimum spend. I would say that the fees are immaterial and would be too complicated to calculate. To give a better picture, I applied for 2 or 3 credit cards every 3 months. Each time, I would need to meet about $5K to $6K in minimum spend in 3 months. Using Amazon Payments, I would knock out half of that spend, and the remaining would be everyday spend and Vanilla Reloads here and there.
The true cost of collecting half a million points to travel to Europe was time. I’m not sure if the reader was talking about opportunity costs or not. I could have spent everything on a 2% cash back credit card and that would be the opportunity cost. It was not costly to obtain these points, but it was definitely time consuming However, it was well worth it! Do you think I should consider opportunity costs in the “cost of obtaining points”? Is this reader’s question legitimate or is he just being a troll?