How to Fly to Italy for Free!

JAXsonville to Firenze (Florence/Rome) Trip for 2 A friend of mine who is new to the Travel Hacking game was intrigued about the possibility of going to one of my favorite places in the world, Florence Italy, for Free.  Unfortunately, NO Airlines fly directly into Firenze (FLR) , but you can fly into Rome (FCO) and take a peaceful* Train 1.5 hours to Florence a couple cities a...
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What are Points Actually Worth?

Valuing Hotel Points and Airline Miles - What Makes Cent$? In the Free Travel Game, one of the most important things to remember is the concept of 'VALUE' - Compared to simply accumulating points because they seem like a high sign up bonus.  For example, 40,000 Hilton Points may SOUND like a lot, but in many cases, thats just enough for one night hotel stay in a big city.  Con...
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Best Amex Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

American Express Credit Card Offers As we've mentioned before, all bonuses change monthly*, so you're goal is to sign up when the offer is at its historical highest if possible.  Remember, American Express only allows you to get a Sign Up Bonus ONCE in a lifetime, so make it count! Note the slight difference between the 'Best Offer' for the personal Delta Gold Card, and the '...
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Traveling to San Francisco with a Toddler

CLEveland to SanFranciscO for Free Using United Points A couple of years ago, planning a trip anywhere in the world for us was fairly easy.  Now however, we have a 1.5 year old with us, and he's not too fond of 12 hour drives in the car or long layovers.  We waited 2 years to take our son Leo on his first flight, but you can fly with a child older than 2 weeks without any issu...
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AMEX Reimbursement Times

Many Credit Cards offer off perks like 'Free TSA Pre-Check' and 'Free Travel Credits' for certain designated items like Luggage, Flight Changes, or drinks/snacks bought during flight.  The Amex Gold and Platinum Cards include a $100 or $200 'Travel Credit' that technically can't be used to buy regular airline tickets... But you CAN buy a SouthWest or other brands of Gift Cards ...
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CLEveland to LAx – October 2017 for 2 People

CLE-to-LAX-FREE
A friend from Shaker Heights wanted to treat her BFF to a trip to LA.  The time frame was ideally mid October, and they'd be flying out of CLEveland (Hopkins). She is new to Churning, so the planning for this trip went as follows for simplicity: Find Flights - Cheapest with Points without being 8.5+ hours Find the card(s) that are offering bonuses now that line up with ...
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Credit Card Application Rules to Be Aware Of

Amex, Chase, and Citi Application Rules to Know As we discussed in the Chase 5/24 Post, Chase doesn't take too kindly to folks opening up a lot of NON-Business Cards in the lats 2 years... However they aren't the only ones to frown upon this hobby.  While they have the strictest of the 'rules' to limit Credit Card Churning, their competitors implement similar tactics that you ...
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The Infamous Chase 5/24 Rule

In the 'Free Travel' Game, Chase is regarded as the Best Card Issuer out there, as they have a bulk of the market share and tie ins with many hotels and airlines, PLUS a few amazing cards that earn 'Ultimate Rewards' Points. Unfortunately - Chase does not take too kindly to our gaming the system and winning Free Trips on their behalf.  They have to balance their love of mone...
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Amex Biz Platinum – $10K Spend for 100K Points Phone Trick

The current (Average) Offer for the American Express Platinum Card is spend $10K, get 50,000 Points, and another 25,000 points when you spend another $10 Grand in THREE Months.  Even with Manufactured Spending this would be tricky, but for some folks, there's an alternative.   I called 1-800-971-6736 and said my real business (ProEDI) had gotten an offer of $10K ...
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Useful Traveling Resources – Air and Hotel Redemption Guides

Links to Rewards Maps, Planning Tools, Points Calculators Here's a great place to find how many points it takes to reserve a flight or hotel in various programs.   Finding the best Rewards Program to get from Point A to Point B There's a new batch of very helpful flight-points calculators that are eager to help you plan your trip.  While none of these can tell you in r...
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How to Use Vanilla Gift Cards & Money Orders to Meet Minimum Spends

A lot of the old fashioned 'easy' methods for Manufactured Spending are no longer viable.  However, there is still one tried and true method that only involves a little more work.  This option involves using your new CC to buy Visa Gift Cards, and then using the VGCs to buy Money Orders, which themselves can be used as fungible cash or deposited back into your account. The...
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An Easy Way to Top Off & Earn More Marriott Points

You might find yourself in a situation like me, where you have 2,800 seemingly worthless Marriott Points.  You perhaps did $2,800 worth of spending on the ol' Marriott Card you recently canceled to get those.... But you can't redeem them for nights, magazines, OR anything fun.  Sure you can transfer them to SPG (at 3:1)  BUT, they only allow you to transfer in 1,000 point incre...
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A Quick Way to Top off your American Airlines Points

If you find yourself in a situation where you have say 12,100 American Airlines Points, and want to buy a one-way ticket for 12,500... You might be able to just 'use your AA CitiAdvantage Card to buy $400 worth of stuff'.  But what if you've recently canceled your card?  Fear Not.  You can make a donation to various Charities that pay out 10x AA points per dollar... The points ...
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Why SouthWest RapidRewards is the Best Card for US Travel

Southwest Loves You
When people ask me ''What's the Best Card to earn Miles on?"  I usually ask where it is they want to go.  If its within the US including Puerto Rico, then the answer is by far any of SouthWest's RapidRewards cards from Chase.  They service all major cities, and include routes to Cancun, Punta Cana,  Montego Bay and Nassau as well.  The beauty of SouthWest's program is the flexi...
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Direct Links for Airline Rewards Programs

A quick and dirty resource for finding Award Availability in the most popular airlines: Book Award Flights on American Airlines Book Award Flights on All Nippon Airlines - Very Convoluted Book Award Flights on United Airlines Book Award Flights on SouthWest Book Award Flights on Delta - Useful for finding cheaper flights on Korean Air via SkyPartner Transfer B...
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How to Meet Credit Card Minimum Spend Requirements Quickly!

our haul from Japan
How to Meet Min Spend Requirements Easily The 1st thing most people ask when they get into the 'Travel Hacking' game is 'How am I going to spend $2,000  or in some cases $5,000 in 3 months?  If I had that kind of money lying around I wouldn't be tryin' to Travel for FREE in the 1st place!'  Fear not my friend, there are ways around that.  Some which essentially don't includ...
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How and Why to Get the SouthWest Companion Pass

Companion Pass Closeup
If you're here, its because you have at least one friend (or God-willing, a Loved one) and want to travel the US/Caribbean with them for FREEish.  The Companion Pass basics are outlined in SouthWest's own words below: If that's unclear, what it means is that when YOU buy a ticket with EITHER Points OR real Money, your Companion gets to hitch a ride for FREE!*  Less the Taxes...
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Guest Post – Traveling with College Debt

Got College Debt? Here’s How You Can Still Travel Guest Post By Jacob, the voice over at @DollarDiligence. Jacob knows quite a bit about student debt, in fact, he paid down over $25k. Jacob is working to help and inspire others to take control of their finances. If you’re one of the 40 million Americans who has student loan debt, you may think that you’re trapped by them....
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Tips to Maximize Your Savings Potential, Even With Low Interest Rates

Tips to Maximize Your Savings Potential, Even With Low Interest Rates Guest Post By Patty Moore from Working Mother Life Visit her blog for more information on how to save money and balance a budget for your family, as well as more child-centric financial information.   Most banks offer super low interest rates on savings accounts, which can be a pain for tho...
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Credit Score Details – Churning FAQ

Most people immediately think opening 5 credit cards in a year as damning to your Credit Score.  The irony is is the opposite is often true. Credit scores are calculated by looking at the data found in a credit report. This includes the following: Payment history Length of credit history Credit utilization (total available credit / credit used) Types of credit used (revol...
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Last Minute Deals and Other Churning News

Sometimes an Offer 'Too Good to Be True' Might not be around for too long.  If that's the case you have to strike while the iron is hot.  Here you can find a list of Last Minute Opportunities and Current Deals that may be Expiring Soon , as well as news relevant to 'Churning.' June 2017 There's an unprecedented BEST OFFER for the SouthWest Family of cards going on just this m...
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EuroTrip – Italy Ireland & England on the Cheap

In 2012 I went on a Solo Trip to Italy, England and Ireland.  I had already been to Italy before, but missed out on Florence.  London and Ireland have always been high on my 'To See' List,  and I was excited to do some traveling Alone for the 1st time in my life. I was still new to the Credit Card Churning game at this point, and was happy just to use a $300 voucher from Air...
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Keeping Track of your Credit Cards

Its Important to know when you open and close each card you apply for.  The Annual Fee on most cards can be removed if you wait more than 12 months, but that requires a call to Customer Service.  Ain't nobody got time for that. We use a simple Excel / Google Docs sheet that lists the following details: Card Name Date Opened Minimum Spend Requirement Min Spend...
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