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You know that saying “If I could get a dollar for every time someone asked me that”, the question I seem to get most of the time is how can we afford to travel so often. Honestly, it takes a lot of work, but I feel so incredibly blessed for the life we have right now. We can basically drop everything and book a plane ticket in any amount of time. In fact, we did this last month. 3 weeks prior, we were asked to go to North Carolina for New Years, and I booked a plane ticket a minute later. The main reason for this is making travel a priority, the other big reason is because I pay way too much attention to saving for travel.
I am excited to be starting a new series all about traveling on a budget and how to plan, save for, enjoy and love the adventures you go on. Big trips don’t need to be expensive, and they aren’t if you are always working towards the goal of traveling. All of these tips, companies and rewards systems are ones that I actually use and take advantage of. Now I know there are others out there, and some of them I may have never used, but based on my research and the amount of traveling we do, these are the resources I love and use all of the time.
There are several resources I use to earn free or reduced rate while traveling, the biggest being the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. This card is a lifesaver. Before you ignore this post because you don’t want a credit card, let me explain why it is worth it. I also have some tricks up my sleeve on how to earn even more points.
- 2 points per dollar for every flight you book with your card, plus the points you earn from the flight. Pay close attention to the price difference in fares. There have been times where the Wanna Get Away cost was only $70-$100 less than the Business Select, depending on the cost it may be more cost effective to get the more expensive fare.
- Wanna Get Away = 6 points per dollar
- Anytime = 10 points per dollar
- Business Select = 12 points per dollar
- Several restaurants and retail stores give rapid reward points if you use the Southwest credit card to pay for your purchase or meal. This points system is called Rapid Rewards Shopping & Rapid Rewards Dining, you can find the participating locations on the Southwest website.
- Hotel reservations will offer a few hundred bonus points for booking through the Southwest website, which will also earn 1 point per dollar spent on the Southwest Credit Card (I do not recommended- see below)
- Signing up during a bonus offer (happening now!) you can get 50,000 bonus points just for signing-up. If you would like one of these offers, comment below or email me- firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you the link! To get 50,000 points, you need to spend $2,000 in the first 2-3 months you have the card
- Booking a car through Southwest. This oftentimes will give you about 400 Rapid Rewards points per car rental
- 1 point per dollar on every purchase with the Southwest Credit Card
There are 2 websites I use to book hotels, hotels.com and Rocket Miles. I have another post coming on hotels.com, but Rocket Miles is perfect for Southwest Rapid Rewards. These two companies have a partnership where the rewards you receive from booking through Rocket Miles can be directly added to your Rapid Rewards account. They generally begin around 1,000 points (still a good deal) but every now and then I will get an email from Rocket Miles about a Rapid Rewards Bonus. A few months ago, they sent me a 7,000 bonus offer, all I needed to do was book one hotel night and I would receive 7,000 Rapid Rewards points. If you do not have a Rocket Miles account, you can sign up for one here.
You may be wondering what you get with all of these things called Rapid Rewards…free flights, free flights, and more free flights! The best thing about Southwest is the ease of using Rapid Rewards. There are no blackout dates, great sales, and over 100 destinations. But what is better than free flights for yourself? Free flights for a companion every single time you fly!
The companion pass is the reward you get for reaching 110,000 points in one calendar year through Southwest. All Southwest Credit Card purchases go towards this 110,000 goal, as well as the 50,000 bonus, Rocket Miles bonus, and rewards earned from flights. Once you reach companion status, you can chose one person to always get a free ticket to fly with you. Once you reach companion status, you get it for the remainder of the year you earn it, and then the entire next year. You can change the person 3 times while you have the companion pass, and you can use it for anywhere Southwest flies…even Mexico!
Another great thing about this is that you can use your own Rapid Reward points to book flights for yourself, and then still get the free companion ticket. All you need to do is pay taxes (which in the US amounts to $11.20 roundtrip)
Other things to know:
- There is a $69 or $99 yearly fee depending on which Southwest Credit Card you get, but you also get 6,000 bonus points for your “anniversary” which would cost way more than the fee anyways
- There isn’t a foreign transaction fee, so while you are using it in another country you are basically getting paid to use the card
We use our Southwest Credit Card for everything, bills, eating out, birthday presents, etc. As long as we have the money to pay it off right away, we put it on the card. Hopefully this information was helpful, if you have dreams to travel…do it!!
Do you have any favorite rewards programs or resources?