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Southwest Companion Pass is The Best Travel Deal I’ve Ever Seen

southwest airlines companion pass

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If you haven’t heard of the Southwest Companion Pass, you’re about to be enlightened on the best travel deal in the airline industry.  It is the best travel deal ever to be seen in the airline industry.  If earned, a Southwest Companion Pass allows for you to fly with a complimentary companion on every flight you take for up to two years (on cash-paid or points flights).  Achieving Southwest Companion Pass status is done by earning 110,000 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points in one calendar year.

While that may sound impossible for the regular traveler, it’s not.  My wife and I have done it on three separate occasions.  Earning the 110,000 Southwest points does not have to be done solely through flying.  In fact, it can be achieved without flying a single flight.  The points can also be earned through the Chase Rapid Rewards credit cards. This means that both the credit card introductory bonuses and the money spent on the cards will earn points towards the Southwest Companion Pass!

southwest credit card companion pass

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

When you earn a Southwest Companion Pass, you’re essentially getting status that grants you and your companion unlimited (BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE) flights for both the year you earn it and the following year.  Yes, you heard that right. If earned in January 2019, you’d have it for all of 2019 and 2020!  The free companion tickets are valid on both paid flights and reward flights.  That essentially means that those 110,000 miles you just earned are now worth double.  They’re worth 220,000 miles if you always take your companion along for free.  The only thing to say is about this deal is WOW!  It doesn’t get much better than that.  If you decide to travel a lot on Southwest while you have the companion pass, you can save thousands upon thousands of dollars.

I almost forgot to mention that Southwest has grown their flight routes over the past few years. They now fly to more destinations than just the USA.  They fly to Mexico, Central America, and much of the Caribbean.  Also, they plan to begin flights to Hawaii in late 2018 or early 2019.  I’m guessing you’re starting to understand why this is my favorite deal in the airline industry.  Southwest doesn’t fly worldwide, but for people who are looking to travel within the U.S.A. and to our southern neighboring countries, it’s an amazing deal.  Who doesn’t love a good deal?

 

Who is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass Right For?

While Southwest doesn’t have first class, they lack a large international route map, and they don’t have seat selection, they make up for it with their excellent customer service and flexibility.  All Southwest flights can be rescheduled up to ten minutes before the flight time for no fee.  You can also check your bags for no fee.  It’s truly an airline that tries to make their customers happy and it shows.  That’s hard to say about other airlines these days.

Some people dislike Southwest’s seating procedure, but if you know how it works and you’re on top of checking in exactly 24 hours before your flight, it works out quite well.  I simply set an alarm 24 hours and 5 minutes before my departure time.  When my alarm goes off I open the Southwest app on my phone and check-in when the time hits.  This ensures you will get in the A or B boarding group and likely ensures that you will have a seat with your flight mates.  I have never missed out on getting a seat next to the person I was flying with by using this check-in procedure.

The Southwest Companion Pass is perfect for flyers who want to travel within the United States and nearby countries.  Their destinations within the US are actually very good.  There are few places in the country that you cannot get to by flying Southwest.  The addition of Hawaii will add even more options for vacation using a Southwest Companion Pass for flights.  I have been flying Southwest for six years and have nothing bad to say about them.  I love flying Southwest, especially when I’m flying with my free companion beside me!

Companion Pass Southwest

How to Get Southwest Companion Pass: The Hard Way or The Easy Way

In order to earn a Southwest Companion Pass, you have to earn 110,000 qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights each year.  While, for most people, taking 100 flights is out of the question in a single year, it is possible to earn 110,000 points.  It’s possible due to the different options available to earn qualifying points.  Qualifying points include points earned through revenue flights on Southwest, credit card points (including credit card introductory offers) and points earned through Southwest partners.  Points that don’t qualify are purchased points, points transferred from other members (even family), points converted from other loyalty programs (the likes of Chase Ultimate Rewards), e-rewards, e-miles, Valued Opinions, Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points and partner bonus points.

  • Credit Card Bonuses (The Easy Way)

The best way to earn large amounts of Rapid Rewards points is through the introductory offers of the Southwest credit cards.  However, you need to be aware of Chase’s rules on applying for Southwest credit cards before you hit submit.  Because Chase has it’s 5/24 rule, if you’ve opened more than five credit cards (not just Chase cards) in the past 24 months, you’ll likely be denied. You can’t earn the bonus on any of the Southwest cards if you’ve earned an introductory offer bonus with that specific card in the past two years.  Also, a new rule (as of April 2018) prohibits you from owning two of their personal credit cards at once.  Meaning you can no longer sign up for two personal cards to earn the bonuses in a single year.

You are, however, allowed to have one personal card and one business card at the same time.  Therefore, to earn the most points from credit card bonuses you’d need to apply for one of the three personal cards along with the business premier card.  Qualifying for a business card is not as difficult as you might think.  Any side hustle or extra income may qualify you.  With introductory offers ranging from 40-60,000 points, signing up for two of the Southwest credit cards will get you most of, if not all the way to earning the Companion Pass.  As a rule, I wait to apply for any of these credit cards until the introductory offer is at least 50,000 points.

  • Southwest Credit Card Referrals

Credit card referral bonuses are another great way to rapidly accumulate points toward the Companion Pass. Chase offers 10,000 points for every friend whom you refer through your personalized link and is approved for a Southwest credit card. These referrals are limited to a total earning of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points per year.

  • Southwest Flights

Other than credit card bonuses and referral bonuses, flying very often on Southwest is your best option for earning Rapid Rewards points. Depending on the fare type, you earn between 6 and 12 points per $1 spent on Southwest airfare. With this method alone, you would need to spend at least $9,000 on airfare to earn enough points for the companion pass.

  • rocketmiles southwest companion pass

    Sign up for Rocketmiles here: Get 1000 extra bonus points when you book.

    Rapid Rewards Partners

Southwest has several travel and shopping partners that allow you to earn extra Rapid Rewards points by purchasing rental cars, hotel stays, transportation and experiences.  One of the best partners is Rocketmiles, where you can earn up to 10,000 Southwest miles per night on certain hotel stays (extra bonus offer points don’t count towards Companion Pass – base points do).  A hotel room booked for a few hundred dollars can earn thousands of points alone.  For instance, the booking to the right shows a hotel room that costs $379 and earns 5000 Rapid Rewards points.  This is a great way to meet the last of the points you may need to earn the SW companion pass.

  • Credit Card Spend

Any points you earn through purchases made on the Southwest credit cards will count toward the Companion Pass. All the Southwest credit cards offer the same earning rate: 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases, Rapid Rewards hotel purchases, and partner car rental purchases.  1 point per $1 spent is earned on all other purchases. This would be a difficult way to earn a companion pass unless you spend a very large amount of money each year.  You would need to spend over $100k on a Southwest credit card to earn the Southwest Companion Pass through credit card spending only.

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program is another good way to add a few extra points to your balance. You’ll earn up to two points per $1 spent at qualifying restaurants.  You must sign up for this program and designate your credit card to earn these bonuses.

  • Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal

You can also earn extra Rapid Rewards points by clicking on a retailer’s link through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal before purchasing. The Rapid Rewards shopping portal includes many retailers you probably use, like Best Buy or World Market. You’ll earn varying point multipliers depending on the retailer but it’s usually between 1-4 points per dollar.

how to get southwest companion pass

Southwest Credit Card Companion Pass: Earn it Without Flying a Single Mile

As you can see above, the only quick and easy way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is through credit card bonuses.  The other ways to earn Rapid Rewards points are good for topping off any last points you need to meet the 110,000 points for the Southwest Credit Card Companion Pass.  Chase currently offers four Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards and they all typically have introductory bonuses of 40-60,000 miles each.  Out of the four Southwest credit cards,  you can often get approved for two of them (1 personal and 1 business), meet the minimum spends for both, and you’ll instantly earn a Southwest Companion Pass.

Chase offers three personal credit cards (Plus, Premier and Priority) and one business credit card (Business Premier).  Yes, you must have your own business to qualify for a business credit card. However, a sole proprietorship is valid. That means if you have any kind of “side hustle” or side income you have a business. Do you sell things on eBay or Craigslist? That’s a business. Maybe you have garage sales… Get creative!  If you need inspiration, check out these two blogs: Smart Passive Income & Side Hustle School.

Getting Approved for Southwest Credit Cards

Getting approved for both a personal and business card at the same time is absolutely possible, and even probable if you try.  I’ve done it on multiple occasions, my wife has done it, and many travel bloggers have done it as well.  Call the reconsideration line If you’re not approved for one of the cards.  You can ask them if they’ll manually review your application. You may want a personal card and a business card to keep expenses separate, which is a valid reason for two similar credit cards.

Two Southwest credit card approvals at once are possible. If you aren’t able to get two credit cards at the same time, you can always apply for one and then wait 3 months or more to apply for the other.  As long as you are awarded the introductory bonuses in the same calendar year, they will combine to earn points towards the southwest companion pass.

How to Earn Your Southwest Companion Pass in January to Maximize Your Value

Once you are approved for your Southwest credit cards, you’ll need to meet the minimum spends to earn your bonus.  If you are trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass in 2019, you can actually apply for the credit cards at the end of 2018.  Because you get 3 months to complete the minimum spends, you can get your credit card anytime after October starts.  If you do this, you must make sure to not reach the full minimum spend until after January 1st, 2019.  That is when you will earn your bonus points.

For instance, if you were approved for one of the Southwest credit cards on October 15th, 2018 (that earns the bonus after $3000 in first 3 months), you would have until January 15th, 2019 to complete the minimum spending.  You could put, say $2800 in spending on the card in 2018, then wait to complete the other $200 of needed spending until after January 1st, 2019.  This will allow you to earn your companion pass earlier in the year to maximize the time you have to use it.  Just be sure to not complete the minimum spending too early, because you must earn all 110,000 points in the same calendar year.

southwest companion pass credit card

Southwest Companion Pass Trick: Combine Two Offers

Below are the four Southwest credit cards offered by Chase.  To help earn a Southwest Companion Pass, it’s possible to be approved for two of the credit cards.  You can get one of the personal cards as well as the business card.  This is how I have earned the companion pass three separate times, and have had a free flight companion for nearly six straight years.  It’s pretty simple.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

40,000 Points after spending $1000 in the first 3 months

Chase Southwest Plus Credit Card

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • Annual Fee: $69

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

40,000 Points after spending $1000 in the first 3 months

Chase Southwest Premier Credit Card

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • No Foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual Fee: $99

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

40,000 Points after spending $1000 in the first 3 months

southwest rapid rewards priority credit card

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest travel credit every year.
  • 4 Upgraded boardings per year.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks, wi-fi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • No Foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual Fee: $149

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

60,000 Points after spending $3000 in the first 3 months

Chase Southwest RR Premier Business Credit Card

  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • No Foreign transaction fees.
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost and earn points on employee spending.
  • Annual Fee: $99

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

How to Use Southwest Companion Pass Effectively

Now that you know the easy way to get the Southwest Companion Pass, here’s how you’ll use it.  Since every flight you take on Southwest in the year you earn companion pass and the year after will include a free companion ticket, you should take advantage of it as much as possible.  The more you use your companion pass, the more valuable it is.  For instance, if you only use it once for a $300 flight, it’s value is $300.  But, if you use your companion pass for 20 $300 flights, it’s value is $6000.  The Southwest Companion Pass can be extremely valuable, but it’s inevitably up to you how valuable it will be.

sw companion pass

Southwest Points to Dollars: How much is each point really worth?

Each Southwest point is worth about 1.6 cents when used to book a “Wanna Get Away” flight.  This is the lowest available price for flights with Southwest and will get you the most value.  If you earn the Companion Pass that means you will have 110,000 points to use.  You don’t actually have to spend the points you earned for the Companion Pass.  You get to keep them.  Those 110,000 points are valued at $1760 towards Wanna Get Away flights.  But, now that you have a free companion for every single flight, those points are worth double.  An astonishing $3520 value if you take a companion on every flight!

How to Use Southwest Points to Book a Flight and Add Your Companion

You’ve got $3520 worth of points if you earned the Southwest Companion Pass.  You’ll surely want to know how to use them effectively.  I follow the rule of only booking flights at the Wanna Get Away price.  Southwest points prices always coincide with the cash prices (~62.5 points per $1).  When using your companion pass, you will book your flight as usual, except only book the flight for one person, whoever holds the companion pass status.  You’ll add your companion to the flight after booking.

Remember, you can use either cash or points to book even when you’re adding a companion.  Sign in to your Southwest account, Find your flights, complete your bookings, and then go to My Account and then My Trips.  There you will find all of your upcoming trips and a button that says Add Companion.  You’ll click that on each itinerary that you want to add your companion and follow the prompts.  You’ll have to pay the taxes and fees to complete booking your companion.

Using Your Companions Rapid Rewards Points to Book a Companion Flight

In my wife and I’s case, she has the companion pass, but I have some Southwest points in my own account.  Those points aren’t transferable, but I can use my points to book her a flight.  After I book her flight, she can add that flight to her Southwest Rapid Rewards account using the confirmation code.  Then, she can add me as a companion for the flight using the process detailed above.  This is a great way to take advantage of Southwest points that your companion may have in their account.

Always Book One-Way Flights Separately

Whenever booking flights on Southwest, it’s smart to book each one-way flight separately (not as a round-trip ticket).  Southwest offers no fee rescheduling of all flights, so if one of your flights becomes cheaper after purchasing it, you can easily reschedule either the departing flight or arriving flight.  It makes sense to only book one-way tickets because if, for instance, your departure flight gets cheaper and your arrival flight gets more expensive, you can’t reschedule just half of your itinerary if booked together as a round-trip.  Using this one-way booking process, you’ll easily be able to change your flights, guaranteeing the best price.

Book Your Flights During a Sale

Southwest has sales on their flights very often.  The great thing about their points being equal to a dollar amount is that when they have flight sales, the points price becomes cheaper as well.  During past sales, I’ve been able to find flights for as little as 2-3000 points.  Remember that there are no fees to reschedule a flight, so you can book your flight now, but continue to check prices, especially during sales.  If either way of your flight becomes cheaper, just reschedule it for the cheaper price.  You will be refunded the difference of points or dollars.

 

Southwest Companion Pass Rules

  • You are allowed to change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.
  • Once you qualify, you can begin booking flights with your Companion Pass immediately, and it is good through the remainder of the year you earn it as well as the next calendar year (up to two years, depending on when you qualify).
  • You can pay for your flight with cash or points before you add your companion.
  • Your companion can’t fly without you – they must be booked on the same flight and dates.
  • If you cancel your ticket, the companion ticket will also be canceled.
  • You have to pay for your ticket (cash or points) to bring a companion (you can’t use a companion pass to fly with a partner also using a companion pass).

 

Where Does Southwest Fly?

As of October 2018, Southwest Airlines flies to 99 destinations across the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America, and the Caribbean.  Also, they will be adding four new destinations come this winter.  Southwest will fly to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii.  Soon, there will be over 100 Southwest Airlines destinations to use your Southwest Companion Pass on including Hawaii.

Where does southwest fly

Here are some of my favorite locations to fly via Southwest Airlines:

  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Austin, Texas
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • San Diego, California
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Niagara Falls, New York
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Washington D.C.
  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Hawaii – Southwest Airlines Hawaii flights are coming in late 2018/early 2019!

Think of all the amazing adventures and vacations you and your companion could take advantage of with a Southwest Companion Pass.  For a full list of Southwest destinations: Check out our post: Where Does Southwest Fly?

southwest hawaii

Southwest Hawaii Flights

Beginning in 2018 or 2019 Southwest will begin flying to Hawaii for the first time.  Flights will go to all of the major islands: Oahu (HNL), Maui (OGG), Kauai (LIH), and the Big Island (KOA).  The original four mainland departure airports will be Sacramento (SMF), San Jose (SJC), Oakland (OAK), and San Diego (SAN).  In the future, I would expect to see more departure airports along the west coast.  The airports that could be next are Portland (PDX) and Seattle (SEA).  They both have similar flight times to California to Hawaii flights.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii Inter-Island Flights

Southwest will also offer inter-island routes.  Currently, there aren’t many options to fly between the islands.  This will hopefully create some cheaper fares to get from island to island.  It currently costs around $100 with other carriers.  I love Hawaii and travel there often, so it’s nice to be able to split up a vacation between multiple islands, like my wife and I did for both our honeymoon and our one year anniversary.  It also brings another option to use points to travel between islands.  Plus if you have a companion pass it will be 2 for 1 pricing.

 

Who Will You Choose to be Your Companion?

If you’re looking to do a lot of traveling in upcoming years with a companion, this deal is perfect for you.  It’s absolutely worth attempting to achieve, especially for couples or best friends.  I choose my wife as my companion, and she chooses me.  As long as this deal stays alive through credit card bonuses, we’ll likely have one for a long time to come.  My wife and I now have a Southwest Companion Pass status for the third straight year (and 4th next year) thanks to the Southwest credit cards.

how to use southwest companion pass

My wife, Allison applied for both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit cards at the same time.  The personal card was automatically approved.  The business credit card, on the other hand, received a pending status.  After about a week, they approved her business card as well (patience is a virtue).  At the time, the introductory bonuses for those two credit cards were 50,000 Rapid Rewards & 60,000 Rapid Rewards respectively.  After meeting the minimum spends on both Southwest credit cards, she earned around 115,000 Southwest miles and one SW Companion Pass!

Now we have a free companion ticket on every flight we take for the rest of 2018 and the entirety of 2019.  Even better is that those 115,000 miles are essentially doubled (230,000 miles) worth approximately $3,700.  That’s a lot of Southwest Airlines destinations we’ll be able to fulfill without spending any money (besides taxes & fees)! This is the best deal in the travel industry.  Don’t miss out.  It likely won’t be around forever.  Who will be your companion?

 

 

Alaska Airlines Companion Fare: How to Save Money Every Single Year

alaska airlines companion fare

Have you heard of the famous Alaska Airlines Companion Fare?  If you’ve ever flown on Alaska Airlines, I’m sure you’ve at least heard it mentioned.  Toward the end of most flights, they offer you an application for their branded credit card which comes with the Companion Fare.  It also usually comes with at least 30,000 miles to be used for flights. While it’s not always the most lucrative offer out there because it doesn’t give you completely free flights, it can be very handy.  

alaska airlines companion passALASKA AIRLINES COMPANION FARE COMES IN HANDY

The Alaska Airlines Companion Fare is a one-time use certificate that grants you a second ticket for the same flight by paying only the taxes and fees while purchasing one full price ticket (after the first year $99 plus taxes and fees).  I’ve found the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare to be very beneficial to have when I have specific dates that I need to fly and there are no reward flights on those dates. For me, this happens somewhat often because my wife is a teacher and only has specific dates that she can travel.  This makes budget travel very difficult.  In particular, around the holidays and spring break for school are hard times to find available reward space.

ALASKA COMPANION FARE CAN SAVE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS

The more your flight costs, the more savings you will receive from using the companion fare.  I’m currently looking for flights to Hawaii around the New Year and let me tell you, they are not cheap.  There are also no reward flights on the dates that we need to travel, so I am most likely going to use our yearly Alaska Airlines Companion Fare that I get from my Alaska Airlines credit card.  Because the flights around that time are so ridiculously expensive, I will likely save nearly $800 by using it.  Keep in mind that you are also allowed to use the Companion Fare on a first class flight whether paid for or upgraded.  If you’re looking to fly first class and have to pay for the flights, you could save even more money!

ALASKA AIRLINES CREDIT CARD OFFER

The details of the Alaska Airlines credit card are the following:alaska air credit card

  • $1000 spending limit in first 90 days to receive bonuses.
  • 30,000 Alaska Airlines Miles.
  • $0 + taxes & fees Companion Fare.
  • Free checked bag on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America flights for you and six others.
  • Yearly $99 + taxes and fees Companion Fare when credit card is renewed.
  • $75 yearly fee
  • APPLY NOW

ALASKA AIR COMPANION FARE – FINAL REVIEW

Overall the Alaska Air credit card is quite beneficial.  It can help you out when you’re in a sticky situation and can’t find reward space.  The 30,000 miles is also a decent chunk of Alaska miles.  It can be enough miles for a round trip flight in coach or a one way first class flight within the continental US or Alaska.  I have the card and I find it valuable enough to pay the annual fee to keep the card.  The Alaska Companion Pass pays off, when you really need it.

Budget Hawaii Vacation – How I Saved Over $1300 on Flights

This week I booked a 16 night Hawaii vacation, for my wife and I, to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.  It’s our favorite place to travel, and it’s where we went on our honeymoon. I’d been waiting for reward space on flights to open up for the date range we had available, and finally they did! OH YEAH!!!

 

HOW I BOOKED OUR FLIGHT

I found flights on Alaska Airlines that had reward space, so I jumped on the opportunity and booked them with British Airways miles (who is a partner airline of Alaska Airlines).  If you want to learn how I did this, here’s a post about it. This summer, we’re headed to The Big Island and then Maui for our two island Hawaii vacation. Eight days at each location. I’ve been to all of the Hawaiian islands (some multiple times), and Maui is my favorite.  The Big Island is my second favorite, so I’m excited for my wife, Allison, to explore it for her first time! She’ll surely be shocked on our drive from the airport, and possibly think we landed on Mars instead… (if you’ve been there, you know what I mean).

 

OUR ACCOMMODATIONS

As soon as I knew the dates we would be traveling, I started looking for our accommodations.  I knew we wanted to at least spend most of our time in a condo with a kitchen. My go-to website for this type of booking is VRBO.com because they have a great variety of homes in Hawaii.  The reason for wanting to book a condo, is so that we can prepare a lot of our meals and snacks, which significantly cuts down on our eating expenses.

 

By preparing our breakfasts, snacks, lunches and some dinners, we won’t be paying inflated restaurant prices or tips for every single meal.  16 days multiplied by three meals for two people, is a lot of meals to be eating out. When we arrive in Hawaii, we make a Costco run to get enough food and drinks for our stay, which usually costs between $100-200 for a week.  After our trip, I’ll report back on how much money we spent on food.

 

HAWAII VACATION COSTS/EXPENSES RUNDOWN

Flights: $22.40 ( +50,000 miles which are free through a credit card introductory bonus! ) SAVED $1331.60 on these flights!!! Booyah! 

 

Condo: $2279.53 ( $954.71-Big Island  $1324.82-Maui ) We splurged!!! It comes out to $142.50 per night, which is cheaper than most decent hotels in Hawaii.

 

Car Rentals: To be determined – Haven’t booked yet because I’m hoping the prices go down.  I usually check Hotwire and Costco Travel. (current price ~$900)

 

Excursions: To be determined – Mostly, we will be spending time at the beach, snorkeling, hiking and exploring which only cost the price of whatever gas it takes to get to our destination.  One thing that we’ll definitely be doing is stand up paddle boarding (SUP).  I’ve found Kona Boys to be a good place to rent a board.  Hopefully, we’ll get lucky and see the pod of dolphins that frequents the Kona coastline!

 

Food: To be determined – Costco food, restaurant meals, and coffee won’t be too much higher than we’d spend regularly on food at home.

 

CANT WAIT FOR OUR HAWAII VACATION

We saved a ton on our flights, so we could splurge a little bit on where we’re staying.  Really, if we weren’t splurging, we could have taken a shorter trip and used points to stay at hotels for free-ish.  $142 per night isn’t too bad, considering how high the taxes and fees were for renting. Over the next year or so we plan on traveling as much as possible, before

having children.  Because of this we’ll likely take some long trips during the summers when we have more time away from work. This is one of those trips and we can’t wait!

 

Saving money on trips like this, is possible for anyone who has the right travel tools and understanding of travel points and miles. If you’re interested in having a life full of travel, without paying a pocket full of money, I suggest following along with Travel Freedom.  An easy way to follow is by entering your email below to join our email journal. You’ll stay updated with news, tips and giveaway information. Mahalo. Talk to you soon. Aloha!

5 Steps to Create Your Own Travel Freedom

Visit All Hawaiian Islands

To get started on your travel freedom journey, there are a few important things you’ll need to do.  This will involve a bit of research and preparation so that you are confident and efficient in your plan of attack.  Make sure you do these before diving in, so that you do this the right way.  Remember, your credit is important in life, so don’t use it for travel points and miles if you aren’t in the right place to do so.  

 

CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE

First of all, You’ll want to go check your credit score if you don’t already know what it is.  Credit Sesame is a good way to check your approximate score for free.  If your score is around 700, you’re in good shape to use your credit to earn thousands or millions of miles.  Also be sure that you are in a good place personally to use your credit for points and miles.  As I’ve said before, if you’re looking to take out a large loan in the near future, it is not a good time to apply for any credit cards.

 

CREATE A POINTS AND MILES WALLET

Through your journey with Travel Freedom, you will be using many different types of miles and points from an array of service providers.  You may have miles with five different airlines, two banks, and 3 hotel groups at any given time.  You’ll want a way to organize these miles and points as well as the usernames and passwords used for each login.  The easiest way I’ve found to keep track of them all is to aggregate them all in one place – Award Wallet.  Here, you will create your own account, where you’ll input all of your account numbers so your logins, balances and expiration dates will be tracked.  

Their FREE version is fine to begin with, but as you have more accounts you may be interested in paying for their upgraded account that has a few more features.  If you will be using points and miles to travel along with your significant other, you will both want to make an account, and then link the two so you can see both while logged in.

 

REVIEW YOUR MONTHLY SPENDING BUDGET

Ok, now that you know your credit is in a good place, and you have a wallet to keep track of all your points and miles you’ll be accumulating, you’ll need to look at your monthly spending.  You’ll want to verify how much you spend that can be put on a new credit card per month.  This is because most credit card introductory bonuses are given to you after you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of having the card.  You will need to know how much spend you’re able to put on the card so that you know if you can meet the minimum spend to release your introductory bonus.  

Once you know how much you spend monthly, you can calculate whether or not you can reach the introductory bonus of each card.  There are ways to get extra spend, to up this level if needed, which I will get into in another blog post.  A great resource to learn about meeting minimum spending limits, is at The Frequent Miler, travel blog.  Now you know what credit cards you can afford to meet the minimum spend for your bonus.

 

PLAN WHERE YOU WANT TO VACATION FIRST

At this point, you could jump in and apply for the best credit card offer you can find, but I don’t believe that’s the best option.  I made the mistake of doing this and wish I had started out slightly different.  Before applying for anything, MAKE A PLAN.  Where do you want to travel to?  Do you want to get a flight with miles, or do you want to book a free hotel with points.  

You have some research and decisions ahead of you.  Once you find the location you’d like to travel to, you’ll need to research what airlines fly between your home airport and your destination.  Then which of those airlines has the lowest price in terms of miles to fly between the two.  Or, if you would rather get free hotel rooms during your stay, you’ll need to know what hotels are in the area and of those, which ones have a rewards program (most do!).  

Google will be your friend in this research, but here are a few other resources from our friends over at Million Mile Secrets – another travel blog:

Airline Award Charts

Hotel Award Charts

How to get to _______ – Guides

 

CHOOSE A CREDIT CARD OR CARDS

Ok, final step!  Depending on all the research you’ve done in the above tasks, find a credit card or multiple credit cards that fit your travel plan.  There are credit cards that offer points and miles directly with hotels and airlines, and there are credit cards that offer their own points system.  Some of these bank reward systems such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Member Rewards, offer the ability to transfer to a multitude of airlines and hotels.  These are my favorite types of credit card bonuses because of the versatility of the points.  Remember, not all points are valued equally.  Some may be better for one vacation and another may be better for your next vacation.  

 

You’re so close to your first vacation using points and miles, you can probably smell it!  Let me know how it’s going.  I’m here to help you!

 

PS: If you’re interested in traveling more often or more luxuriously, check out our FREE 5-DAY MINI COURSE.

5 Benefits of Points and Miles Travel

Free flights… Upgraded to first class… Free hotel rooms… Upgraded to a suite… Free food and drinks in that fancy airport lounge… Sounds nice, right?!? These are some of the points and miles travel benefits and perks available to anyone who decides to travel using credit cards to earn miles and points.

EXPERIENCES FROM POINTS & MILES TRAVEL

These are all parts of travel that I have experienced over the past few years. I have flown countless flights where I paid nothing but the taxes and fees (as low as $6). I’ve have flown in first class. I have stayed at hotels without paying any money. I’ve been upgraded to suites in some of those free hotel stays. And, I now can’t stand a layover where I don’t have access to an airline lounge where they have free food, drinks, sockets to charge my phone, and comfortable chairs.

BEFORE TRAVELING WITH POINTS AND MILES

It’s hard to think that just a few years ago, I had no idea that these things would ever be possible, let alone that I could afford to travel much at all. Before points and miles travel appeared in my life, I didn’t think much about travel besides dreaming of places that I wanted to visit someday when I was much wealthier and could afford it. Is this you right now? I want you to know how easy and how available travel can be.

TRAVEL CREDIT CARD BENEFITS

Whether you want to start traveling for the first time and be able to do it for very small amounts of money, or you already travel and want to upgrade how you do it, travel with points and miles can open new doors to either option. The quantity of your travel as well as the quality of your travel can be boosted tenfold by following the simple steps of traveling with points and miles.

FLIGHT BENEFITS

The major flight benefit that comes from travel with points and miles is the airline miles you can acquire without actually traveling to earn them. Through very generous credit card introductory bonuses, you can almost instantly earn multiple free flights. For instance, I just signed up for a Chase Ink Preferred Business card which offered me a introductory bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards. This bonus alone, has the possibility of being used for 3 round trip flights to Hawaii if redeemed how I explained in the blog post “How I Fly Round Trip to Hawaii for $11”. Different credit cards all offer different introductory bonuses that all differ in value, depending how you want to spend the points.

Another benefit from some of these credit cards, is access to lounges which are in all major airports. American, United, Delta, Alaska and many other airlines all have lounges within airports for customers to enter and relax in before and after flights. Normally you would need to be flying first class or pay somewhere around $40 to enter such lounges. Thankfully, there are a handful of credit cards that grant you unlimited access. When you’re traveling often, having access to a lounge is a great benefit. It gives you somewhere to get away from the hustle and bustle of airport terminals, allowing you to also get a snack and charge your phone.  You can see where these lounges exist by visiting LoungeBuddy who has an extensive list (code JnSjMo28aP gives a $10 credit).

If you’re looking to up your quality of travel, you can use miles and points to book first class flights.  You can even upgrade to first class on a flight you’ve already purchased. I mostly use points to upgrade the quantity of my travel, but I’ve upgraded quality a couple times.  It’s quite nice sitting in first class. I definitely suggest trying it out at least once!

HOTEL BENEFITS

Now for the benefits that traveling with points can give you towards hotels… The major benefit, similar to the flight benefits, is the ability to redeem points for free hotel stays. There are credit cards and points systems that can be used at most major hotel chains. Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, and Club Carlson are a few of the main brands. Each of these brands has different chains that are part of their reward system. While I find that points and miles are often more valuable when used towards flights, I do still use them for hotels when it deems advantageous.

Along with point bonuses, some credit cards offer elite status for certain hotel chains. If you had ever heard of elite statuses at hotels, like me, you probably thought that the only way to earn it was by staying at hotels all the time. While that is one way of earning status, you can also earn it simply by having the right credit card. Once you have status at a hotel chain, you are very likely to have your room upgraded. Sometimes, you’ll even be upgraded to a suite if one is available at your check-in time.

GETTING STARTED TRAVELING WITH POINTS

Now that you see what some of the travel benefits are, I can imagine you may be interested. Remember to keep the following in mind when getting started.  When I first learned how to earn nearly unlimited miles and points through credit cards, I jumped in.  I didn’t have much of a plan. If I could go back, I would make a plan before earning points. As I said earlier, all points and miles are not the same and are valued very differently. Having an idea of where you would like to travel is a good starting point.  That way you can earn the points that will be most efficient and beneficial to your personalized travel.

I hope this has given you an idea of what traveling with points and miles can bring into your life. It has opened the door of travel to me, and I would like to invite you in to join the party.

 

PS: If you’re interested in traveling more often or more luxuriously, check out our FREE 5-DAY MINI COURSE.

4 Questions to Learn if Points and Miles Travel is for you

travel bucket list

Can you Start using Points and Miles to Travel?

Now that you know what points and miles travel is, it’s time to get started.  The first step to find out if it is really for you?  There are are four simple questions to help us answer that question.  

 

Want to Travel?

Do you want to travel?  Your state, the country, or the whole world, it doesn’t matter as long as you have the curiosity to see (in person) what’s out there.

 

Is your answer yes?  You may move on…

 

Good Credit Score?

Do you currently have a good credit score?  Somewhere around 650 or above is suggested to begin applying for travel credit cards.  If you don’t know what your score is, there is a free resource to find out:  creditsesame.com will give you a free and very accurate estimation of your credit score and the stats that go into it.  If you are well below this number, you’ve got some work to do.  There are a lot of resources online to learn how to improve your credit.

 

Yes?  You may move on…

 

Organized?

Are you organized with your credit cards if you have any?  This means paying them off in full, on time, each and every month.  Basically, using your credit cards like a debit card, and not spending money you don’t have.  This is important because the interest rates are extremely high to keep a balance, which would counteract any points and miles you would potentially earn.

 

Yes?  Great!  You may move on…

 

Any loans upcoming?

Ok, so this is the last question.  Do you plan on taking out a large loan in the near future (next two years)?  If you’re planning on buying a home, a new car, or anything that would require a large loan, you will want to wait until after that to begin traveling with points and miles.  For now, you can begin learning the ropes, so that you are prepared when you are fully ready.

 

No loans needed soon?  Perfect!

 

You can Travel with Points and Miles!

Congratulations!  You fulfill all of the qualities needed to begin your points and miles travel journey.  You can use your good credit, for a great cause!  Creating your own travel adventures that maybe you previously thought weren’t possible, due to the cost of travel.  

I have earned millions of points and miles simply by letting banks give them to me.  You can just as easily do this yourself, and I will teach you how.  The banks are so desperate to get us as a customer, that they will offer up thousands of dollars worth of travel points and miles for successfully being approved for their credit cards.  Good news for us!  If done right, these points and miles can lead to close to free travel for the rest of our lives.  

 

Start Traveling Now

That means no more saying no to travel, and no more excuse of “I would love to travel to Hawaii, but it just costs too much”.  Hello state, hello country, hello world, and HELLOOOO TRAVEL…  Hopefully traveling with points and miles is for you, and you are on your way to Travel Freedom.  I’m so excited for you!  I remember my first vacation using miles to cover my plane tickets and it was quite amazing.

 

Let’s stay in touch!  Join the Travel Tribe to receive occasional updates and news.

 

PS: If you’re interested in traveling more often or more luxuriously, check out our FREE 5-DAY MINI COURSE.

Traveling with Points and Miles Instead of Dollars

I’ve now traveled to Hawaii seven times, flown across the country five times, gone to college football games in new cities, visited friends in other states, stayed in resorts that normally cost more than my weekly salary per night, flown first class, stayed in hotel suites, and relaxed in countless airport lounges where free drinks and food are always available. Whew, I’m out of breath… All of this and much more, I’ve done in just the past five years by traveling with points and miles. Yes, FIVE YEARS! That’s it. No joke. I want you to count up your past vacations really quick in your head, and see if your travel amounts to this much over your lifetime. Does it? Hold on to that thought…

traveling with points

HOW MUCH DID THAT COST?

Looking at all the trips and vacations I’ve taken, you’d think that I must be wealthy and spent a huge amount of money on my travels. I mean, look at the price of an airline ticket. Currently, the average round trip U.S. flight is over $350! That’s crazy! Oh, and Hawaii flights… I don’t even want to look at those prices. Well, to tell you the truth, I didn’t pay very much at all to travel as much as I did. I’ve only paid a tiny fraction of the price anyone else would have paid. I’ve been able to do all that traveling using POINTS and MILES to cover the costs. You may think that you can only earn airline miles and hotel points by flying and staying a ton of nights at hotels, because that’s what you’ve heard. It’s NOT TRUE!!! I’ve earned almost all of mine, NOT by flying or by staying at hotels, but through TRAVEL CREDIT CARD INTRODUCTORY BONUSES.

 

Ok, now back to YOUR travel count… Was it less than mine over your whole life? Close? Either way, would you like your next five years to look like mine, or even better and more filled with travel and adventure? Would you like to start turning those travel dreams into reality? Hawaii, Thailand, Iceland, Europe, maybe Brazil… Do you have a bucket list that seems to be getting deeper and deeper with nothing being checked off? GOOD NEWS! You can start traveling with points and miles just as easily as I did. You too, can earn thousands upon thousands of miles and points to kick start your life filled with travel.

OK, BUT HOW?

traveling with miles and points

I’m sure you’re curious to learn how all this traveling with points and miles business works, and you’re probably thinking “what’s the catch?”. I’ll tell you now, the one thing you’ll have to trade for this life full of travel, is a bit of time. Time up front to learn, and time to put your knowledge to work earning and spending your points and miles. Trust me though, it’s absolutely worth it. If I hadn’t learned how to travel this way, I probably wouldn’t have taken 90% of those vacations. Unfortunately, like most people, I would not have been able to afford it.

WHO IS TRAVELING WITH POINTS & MILES FOR?

You’re in? Where do you sign up? Well, first things first… Travel with points and miles isn’t for everyone. There are a few key prerequisites that you’ll need before you can get started.

  1.  You will need to have a credit score in the range of 700 or greater. Scores go up to a maximum of 850, so this is a very good score. If you’re well below this level, you will first need to work to raise your score. If you don’t know what your score is, you can check for free at creditsesame.com. I’ve found that this site will give you a pretty accurate estimation of your credit score.
  2. You must be someone who pays your credit cards and bills off FULLY and ON-TIME, every month. If you’re running a balance, there is no point in earning points and miles because the interest on credit cards far outweighs the value of points.
  3. You aren’t looking at taking out a major loan such as home mortgage in the next one to two years.

Do you fit the bill? Great! I want to share my knowledge of traveling with points and miles, so that your life can be full of travel and adventure like mine is. For me, travel has improved my life greatly. So much, that I now can’t see my life without it. I hope travel can do the same for you now that you’re on your way to becoming an expert points and miles traveler.

traveling with points and miles credit cards

HOW DOES TRAVELING WITH POINTS AND MILES WORK?

Now that you know you want to travel like I do, by using points and miles, and you’ve met the prerequisites mentioned above, let’s move on to how this process works… The number one way to earn tons and tons of points and miles is through credit card introductory bonuses. This is where that good credit score comes into play. Banks are willing to give you a tremendous amount of value to add you as a customer. This means that they will regularly give introductory bonuses of 50,000 miles or more and occasionally even stretch those up to 100,000 miles. The best bonus I have earned to date, gave me enough miles to purchases five round trip flights to Hawaii using the method explained in my blog post “How I Fly Round Trip to Hawaii for $11”. I’ll say that again… FOUR ROUND TRIP FLIGHTS TO HAWAII. That’s pretty generous of the banks, I’d say! (Thanks Chase – wink).

traveling with points and miles

OTHER WAYS TO EARN POINTS & MILES

Although, credit card introductory bonuses are the best and quickest way to earn points, they’re not the only way. Once you have a credit card that earns points, you can earn through spending. Many cards have category bonuses that earn extra points for certain purchases, so you can earn extra points on things you already buy every day. Some common bonuses are on things like gas, groceries, travel and dining. Another way to earn extra points is through online shopping portals that many airlines and credit cards have available. They will give you extra points to click through their links before purchasing products and services on popular online retailers. One more way to earn points is through promotions that the airlines and hotels have directly. Usually, they are for staying at a particular hotel chain so many stays within a period of time they will give you a bonus, or flying so many flights in a period of time they will also give you a bonus. These are just a few ways to earn enough points and miles to travel very well for the rest of your life.

 

IMPROVE YOUR LIFE BY TRAVELING WITH POINTS AND MILES

traveling with points and miles

I have travel freedom, and I would like to teach you how to have the same. I spent hundreds if not thousands of hours researching and reading to understand how to travel with points and miles instead of money. My goal is to take what I’ve learned and make it much simpler and quicker for you. To continue learning about traveling with points and miles, and how to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, follow along with Travel Freedom.

 

PS: If you’re interested in traveling more often or more luxuriously, check out our FREE 5-DAY MINI COURSE.

 

How I Fly Round Trip to Hawaii for $11

stand up paddle board

How would you like to find a round trip flight to Hawaii for a measly $11?  I’ll show you how I do it.  

 

Want to travel to Hawaii, but think it’s expensive?  Do you have good credit?  Check.  Do you live on the west coast?  Check.  Excellent!  You are in perfect condition to have close to free flights to Hawaii as often as you’d like.  I’m sure you’re asking yourself how this could be true?  British Airways of course!  Wait, what?  How is British Airways going to get anyone from the mainland US to Hawaii when they don’t even fly that route?  The answer is in their partners.

Something most people don’t know is that almost all major airlines have partner airlines that you can book flights on, using frequent flyer miles.  We’re all in luck because British Airways has a partnership with Alaska Airlines.  This partnership happens to allow you to fly to Hawaii using very few miles.  The miles needed for British Airways partner flights are distance based, and Hawaii is conveniently located approximately 2,600 miles from any of the airports on the west coast.

 

 

According to British Airways’ miles award chart this distance is in their Zone 4.  A round trip flight to Hawaii costs 25,000 (12,500 each way) and approximately five dollars in taxes, fees and carrier charges total.  YES, you heard that right… TOTAL!  Compare that to other carriers’ award prices and it is a pretty sweet deal.  The next cheapest award flight to Hawaii is through American Airlines coming in at 35,000 miles round trip and that is only for their low season (Good luck finding a flight with award seats available).  Most of the airlines charge around 40,000 miles round trip.

 

 

List of the departing cities you can fly from, to each island in Hawaii for only 25,000 miles per round trip:

 

Anchorage, Alaska (Oahu, Maui, Big Island)

Bellingham, Washington (Oahu, Maui)

Seattle, Washington (Oahu, Maui, Kauai)

Portland, Oregon (Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai)

Oakland, California (Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai)

San Jose, California (Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai)

San Diego, California (Oahu, Maui, Kauai)

 

 

Bare with me, but for this deal you will have to put in a little effort.  I hope that’s OK…  You cannot currently book these Alaska Airlines flights on the British Airways website, but it’s honestly a pretty simple process.  As a bonus you’ll get to talk to someone with a cool British accent.  First, you can check the availability through American Airlines award booking.  Any date that shows up in the light green should be available to book through British Airways, but you will want to make sure that the flight you have selected is non-stop.  British Airways flights are per segment so to pay only 12,500 miles each way, the flights must be direct. In my experience, if you are just a little bit flexible, availability is great!

 

Calling British Airways

After you find your available dates, the last step of booking your flight is to call British Airways.  To call the USA office, the phone number is 1-800-452-1201, then press 2 when prompted, and 1 again to book a flight. If you have the flight information you got from American Airlines, it makes the process very easy.  You will tell the phone rep where you want to fly and on which dates and they will book the trip.  There is an unlikely chance that they will try charging you for booking over the phone, but just make sure to ask them to waive this fee as your flight was not bookable online.  They will gladly waive the fee.

 

Now that you are all booked, any more contact about your tickets or flight will be with Alaska Airlines.  They will be able to look up your itinerary by Name or Alaska Airlines confirmation code.  You may want to call Alaska Airlines just to make sure everything is set up with them correctly and to select your seats.  On the day of your flight you will check in either at the Alaska Airlines counter or one of their automated machines.

 

Now that you know the process of using British Airways miles to book round trip flights from the west coast to Hawaii for only 25,000 miles, here are some different ways to accrue those miles.  If you already have them you’re set.  But if you don’t, there are many ways to get them.  Here is where having good credit comes into play.  If, and only if you have good credit you can sign up for certain credit cards which will give you large amounts of miles or other points as an introductory bonus, which can be transferred to British Airways.  

 

List of points that can be transferred to British Airways and some credit cards that offer introductory bonuses:

 

British Airways Miles:

Chase British Airways Visa Signature

Typical Itroductory Bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $3000 in first 3 months.  Also 25,000 or 50,000 more miles after spending $10,000 or $20,000 within the first year.

 

American Express Membership Rewards:

Amex Business Gold Rewards

Typical Introductory Bonus:  50,000 membership rewards after spending $5000 in first 3 months. Transfer ratio of 1:1 to BA miles.  There are often bonuses for transferring membership rewards to BA where you will receive a better ratio than 1:1 when transferring.   Note: This card requires you have a business (sole proprietorship works).

 

Chase Ultimate Rewards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Typical Introductory Bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4000 in first 3 months.  Transfer ratio of 1:1 to BA miles.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG):

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest

Typical Introductory Bonus: 30,000 SPG points after spending $5000 in first 6 months.

Transfer Ratio 20,000 to 25,000 BA miles.

These are just a few of the options of credit cards out there that you can sign up for to get British Airways miles and take your vacation to Hawaii.  Remember that the credit card introductory bonuses are always changing, so make sure to search online to ensure you find the best offer available.  Some good research tools are google, creditcards.com, and a blog I like to check Million Mile Secrets.  Now that you have points and know how to use them to travel to Hawaii for next to nothing, all that’s left to do is relax on the beach.

 

See you in Hawaii.  Aloha!

 

PS: If you’re interested in traveling more often or more luxuriously, check out our FREE 5-DAY MINI COURSE.