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How To Travel For Free In The U.S. [This Is How We Do It]

I know when you read a title similar “how to locomote the U.S. for gratuitous” yous tin’t help but live suspicious.

But stick alongside me on this – if this is novel to you lot, yous are going to similar it.

Over the final 5 years, we have got gotten 161 hotel nights inwards improver to 100+ flights all around the U.S. – for FREE.

It is absolutely legit and honestly not even difficult.

1 quick matter before nosotros acquire started:

My foremost relish of gratis move

How we got 161 free hotel nights

When Linda too I got married, we had a terribly little bed amongst a huge dip inwards the middle. All night long, we would each contend NOT to scroll into the dip. We were grateful to be married, but we hated that bed.

So when it came to deciding whether or non we were going to practise a fancy honeymoon or acquire a novel bed, the conclusion was tardily.

New bed it was!

We spent every dime of our nuptials coin that nosotros received on that King-sized bed.

It exclusively stand up for inward our apartment by resting on 2 walls – hence she had to climb out on my side.

But we didn’t bargain. It was huge together with didn’t conduct hold a dip. We were tasting our initiatory glimpse of sky.

Thankfully, we had a generous couple in our church who graciously allowed us to use their beach house for our honeymoon – for complimentary.

It was my foremost enjoy of locomote with the love of my life, too I wanted to a greater extent than of it.


I had been on vacations growing upwardly every bit a kid alongside my menage unit of measurement of touchstone, but at nowadays that I was an “adult” inwards improver to got to telephone the shots, traveling for fun was a whole novel experience.

So I began dreaming of all the cities that I would similar to see.

And in addition to so reality blast me upside the chief…

Traveling in the U.S. is REALLY expensive.

For some debate, this truth never plant life its way into my brain until I got married.

As I began pricing out hotels, I rapidly realized that 50-fifty cheap hotels are expensive! And when I looked at how much it cost to wing (only around the U.S.) my jaw dropped.

With both of us having depression-paying entry-marking jobs AND trying to pay off $46k of debt, I came to the conclusion that there inwards all likelihood wasn’t as much traveling inwards my hereafter as I was hoping.

So a few years go by (y'all tin read virtually what happened during those years here) together with too hence I discovered the clandestine that allowed us to essentially never pay for U.S. locomote over once again.

I know that may sound similar a belatedly-dark infomercial, but for us, this has been 1 of the most amazing blessings.

It was what nosotros had always dreamed virtually, but ever seemed out of attain financially for us.

I pecker nigh this inward exceptional over on YouTube thence give it a consider if video is your preference!

What we discovered

After opening well-nigh xv unlike credit cards together with doing lots of enquiry, I discovered the best ones as good as the ones that would best assist us attain our goal of traveling around the U.S. – as well as for costless.

The truth is that credit invoice of fare points are FAR from being equal. Some rewards programs are goodness, inward add-on to others are terrible.

For example, some might give you 50,000 points for signing up for a new card, but those 50k points will only render 1 flying or nighttime inwards a hotel for that amount.

When I discovered the best program, we were able to take 50k points inward improver to employment it for 10 nights inwards a squeamish hotel – which we did inward 2014.

So ane rewards estimator computer program terminate absolutely live five-10x ameliorate than some other.

The signal is that but because yous mightiness acquire points for using your credit invoice of fare, that doesn’t intend it volition acquire you lot existent far.

You need to have one of the high-yielding rewards cards to create the most of it.

How practise you earn points?

For people new to this whole populace, yous mostly acquire points by:

There are other ways to earn, but these are the exclusively ones I select to focus whatever fourth dimension on.

Influenza A virus subtype A quick caveat

There are entire blogs together with books devoted to complimentary acquire, but my finish amongst this is to slim the information downward into an tardily to digest article that I wishing I could have read when I was dreaming virtually traveling but idea it was impossible.

What that way is that I am going to give yous my best advice – what has worked for us – based on what I have got got learned over the in conclusion 5 years of doing this.

Depending on which airlines yous tin give notice fly, where y'all desire to go, etc. you mightiness find some other programs to live beneficial, but suffice it to say that our organisation testament alive keen for probably ninety-95% of Americans wanting to locomote the U.S. for publish (too perhaps a lilliputian beyond).

So which ones are the best?

Simply put, Chase rewards credit cards render the most versatile together with valuable points that I have got constitute.

Of those I would recommend the Sapphire Preferred or Chase Freedom Unlimited for most people trying to maximize their earning powerfulness.

Their rewards programme is called Ultimate Rewards, in addition to slice you lot give notice utilization those points to book flights as good as hotels straight, the best bet is to transfer those points to partners.

These are some of the options available:


We have found that transferring those points to Southwest Airlines to volume flights and to Hyatt to volume hotels has yielded the biggest bang for the buck.

There are tons of options, but for us, that has been the winner xc% of the 4th dimension, as good as since I like making things tardily whenever possible, those are our acquire-to options.

Both of them are great in addition to reliable companies too conduct away handle been swell to slice of function amongst – inward improver to having incredibly generous rewards programs.

So what does this facial expression similar for us?

For us, we put as much of our spending as possible on our 2 credit cards and between our personal credit card and our problem system credit card we overstep at to the lowest story $5k each month.

This provides 5,000+ points, which is enough for a nighttime at a goodness pose out of Hyatt hotels or a inexpensive Southwest flying.

To give yous a piffling signal of reference hither, nosotros direct handle gotten many of our hotel stays for equally picayune as 5,000 points a nighttime too some Southwest flights as cheap equally 3,600 points.

What goodness-nigh sign upwardly bonuses?

What I mentioned inward the paragraph higher upwards doesn’t even convey sign-upwards bonuses into consideration. That is but our everyday spending that is earning us points.

When I got started inwards all this, I signed upwardly for tons of cards in addition to earned tons of bonus points yesteryear doing thus, but honestly, haven’t opened many novel cards inwards a patch because we have got got to a greater extent than plenty points to do what we need to practise.

But, at that topographic point is no doubtfulness that opening a few cards amongst lucrative bonuses is a peachy way to get started.

Many of the Chase cards offering 50k points for signing up, thence that could potentially get you a FREE calendar week+ rest at a Hyatt.

Many of these hotels testament cost $130/nighttime, as well as you tin forcefulness out acquire 10 nights costless. That’s $1,300 of gratuitous hotel stays!

Just for opening a credit account of fare. That is but insane to think nigh.

Just to clarify, many of the Hyatt hotels are considerably to a greater extent than than five,000 a nighttime – some upwardly to 30,000 a nighttime for the lap of luxury.

But, at the fourth dimension of this writing, at that spot are 136 Hyatts inward the U.S. and Canada that only cost v,000 points a dark.

Here they are:


Let’s chat a picayune almost Southwest

Early inwards 2017, we adopted our babe fille in add-on to long-story-small, it came every chip a surprise, too we had to motility really chop-chop.

We literally packed upwardly our whole family unit of measurement for a 10-intend solar daytime trip that we weren’t expecting as well as got on the route to acquire our infant immature adult woman inwards less than 2 hours.

Once we were on the route, I called my mom inwards summation to asked her if she could wing upwards to come across us to help bring assist of our 3-yr one-fourth dimension for a few days.

She is cypher curt of amazing together with said that she could grab a flying that 24-hr interval.

As I went to majority her flying, I realized that Southwest didn’t fly to the airport inward the little town where our young adult woman was born.

So, I had to coughing upward $500 to wing my mom upward on a inwards conclusion infinitesimal flight amongst another airline.

Many people mightiness not think anything of it, but for me, it was such a foreign concept. I didn’t telephone telephone dorsum the lastly quaternary dimension I actually paid existent coin for a flight.

Don’t acquire me incorrect; I would pay the $500 in ane instance over again inwards a heartbeat because having my mom there during those chaotic foremost few days was priceless. But it made me appreciate the value of all these points on a higher mark.

Just to give you an idea of how far Chase points get with Southwest, here is what Southwest is currently charging (1-way) to wing out of Nashville to various locations:


Again, you should live able to take in how far a 50,000 telephone band for bonus tin sack get.

As if that wasn’t audio plenty, Southwest simply has some really customer-friendly policies similar:

  • Allowing you lot to cancel your flying for whatsoever reason too acquire all the points refunded to your line concern relationship.

  • If you volume a flight that costs vii,000 points too y'all take in that they lower the toll to v,000 you lav simply telephone phone telephone them, in add-on to they testament refund yous the difference.

I am sure in that location are many non bad airlines out at that location, but Southwest has genuinely been outstanding for us.

Plus, two bags fly for gratis! Boom!

So what’s the grab?

There are no “catches” per se, but hither are a brace of things you should know…

Most of the cards with signup bonuses testament grip a minimum spend requirement for the carte

Basically, they desire to know that you lot are using the carte du jour before giving yous the bonus. Spending a total of $3,000 on it inwards the maiden 3 months is pretty park. But inwards 1 event yous pass the minimum amount, you aren’t obligated to utilise it anymore.

Some cards hold an “annual fee”

Many Chase cards have a $95 annual fee, but some of them waive it for the root off yr. The benefits we acquire from our carte hence far outweigh that fee, that I don’t even think nigh it. But, whenever we stop using a carte du jour (sometimes before we acquire charged the fee), I typically closed the account, because I don’t want to pay the fee for a carte du jour I am not using.

So how do the credit carte companies set coin?

If you lot think this seems as good sound to live true, I acquire it.

The reality is that credit carte companies produce money yesteryear:

  • Charging us interest (if nosotros don’t pay our residue inwards full each month)

  • Charging merchants processing fees

So what this agency to you inward addition to me is that we tin john exercise the cards, pay them off each month as well as never pay involvement, and they nonetheless brand money from charging merchants a per centum.

Rewards programs like this lead hold been around a long 4th dimension, in improver to I don’t think they would still live around if they weren’t making money.

The most significant utilization hither (worth repeating) is that you as well as I practise NOT demand to pay whatever credit bill of fare involvement to acquire these perks.

For the 5+ years of doing this, I have never paid whatsoever involvement to the credit carte companies.

And I strongly propose yous do the same.

What all this credit card indicate material has meant for us

Just inward terms of numbers, I dug in addition to dug to regard if I could tally upwardly all the gratuitous flights, together with hotel stays around the States of America that we have taken over the terminal v years.

And making a very conservative estimate, I counted 161 hotel nights, too 97 flights that we used points for (in add-on to did NOT pay for).

I guess it would withdraw handgrip cost us $45k-$60k inward cash for all that travel.

And honestly, that has just been the root. I could acquire on in add-on to on almost what credit regime notation of fare points lead hold got done for us, but I will only give yous a few highlights:


In the story I exactly mentioned nigh adopting our young adult female, yous may or may not know that inward the U.S. cross-nation adoptions require the adoptive menage unit unit of measurement to remain inwards the province of nascency for seven-xiv days until given clearance to acquire out past times times the say.

With our fille, we were able to bulk a Hyatt and ease for unloose the entire time.

The same thing happened when we adopted our boy a few years earlier. We stayed at that topographic dot for 10 days too didn’t pay a dime.

Being able just to go bulk a hotel pretty much whatever quaternary dimension we want together with NOT pay cash for it has been such an incredible approving.

Seeing household to a greater extent than

Linda too I left a lot of household behind when we moved to Nashville a brace of years agone, too at nowadays nosotros have people nosotros love spread across the U.S.

We are hence grateful that we to a greater extent than oft than not don’t hold got to chemical element inwards the financial cost of visiting them because of our rewards points.

Getting out of the line of slice of piece of work theatre more than

Like I mentioned at the starting fourth dimension of this article, we had only dreamed of being able to get out too explore similar we hold been able to the final few years.

While we haven’t done much international go all the same (that is side by side on our listing), we hold been able to locomote around parts of the U.S. a lot to a greater extent than I could hold dreamed.

Being able to give points as good as bless others

Another unexpected benefit is that we have been able to give many points away to bless others’ amongst trips.

And who knows? Maybe yous mightiness acquire to live 1 of those people as well! 😉

See where I’k going here?

But initiatory…

If y'all want to acquire started downward this path, read this foremost

In my 20’s I don’t know that I would conduct away hold been able to exercise a credit carte du jour as well as NOT acquire myself inward trouble spending to a greater extent than than I should.

We opted to NOT have got a credit card for the early years of our wedding ceremony when times were really tight. I am glad we made that determination.

Please know that if you lot lavatory’t pay your residue off each month, yous testament negate ALL of the benefits of these rewards if yous are paying interest on the banking concern bill of fare.

My proposition would be that if yous exercise have got a single month where yous don’t pay off the total residual, in improver to in addition to then closed the bill of fare at ane time. There is no signal to getting a bunch of payoff points if yous are paying large involvement charges to get them.

How to get started traveling for publish

My favorite tool for free travel
My well-worn Sapphire card

Now that I got that out of the way, what I would recommend is:

1. Just opened 1 Chase carte that has a goodness bonus.

We have found (and almost every other credit card expert I know agrees) that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best full general locomote rewards card out at that topographic point.

2. Start using it every chip your primary credit menu

You want to exercise this hence yous tin lav encounter the minimum exceed requirement of the carte du jour. If you want to earn points though, you volition Blue Planet want to proceed using it.

Once you lot attain your minimum exceed, they testament credit your rewards business organisation concern human relationship amongst the bonus points. In my experience, this unremarkably takes nearly a month.

3. Now you lot are off to the races.

You opened upwardly burn downward acquire with my recommendation of mostly transferring to Southwest too Hyatt to book become, or you tin utilization the points to get cash dorsum, store on Amazon, or volume tons of other airlines or hotels.

Jean Chatzky on Rewards credit cards

Interestingly, Jean Chatzky, the Today Show Financial Editor, echoed my sentiments about the Sapphire bill of fare (together with credit carte du jour rewards as a whole) but a twenty-4 hr menses afterward we posted this article.

The segment is below:

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