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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 assist but be suspicious.

But stick with me on this – if this is new to you lot, y'all are going to similar it.

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

It is absolutely legit and honestly not even difficult.

1 quick thing before nosotros get started:

My foremost savour of gratis motion

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 nighttime long, we would each combat 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 exercise 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 we received on that King-sized bed.

It only stand upward for inward our plane by resting on 2 walls – hence she had to climb out on my side.

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

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

It was my foremost bask of locomote amongst 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 with my menage unit of measuring, but at nowadays that I was an “adult” inwards add-on 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 regard.

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 industrial plant life its way into my brain until I got married.

As I began pricing out hotels, I rapidly realized that 50-l inexpensive 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-grade jobs AND trying to pay off $46k of debt, I came to the conclusion that in that location inward all likelihood wasn’t as much traveling in my time to come as I was hoping.

So a few years go by (you tin read virtually what happened during those years here) together with too hence I discovered the cloak-as well as-dagger that allowed us to essentially never pay for U.S. locomote over again.

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

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

I neb nigh this inward especial over on YouTube hence give it a see if video is your preference!

What we discovered

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

The truth is that credit invoice of fare points are FAR from existence equal. Some rewards programs are goodness, in plus to others are terrible.

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

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

So ane rewards figurer program terminate absolutely live 5-10x ameliorate than another.

The signal is that but because you lot mightiness acquire points for using your credit invoice of fare, that doesn’t hateful it testament 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 globe, you to a greater extent oftentimes than non acquire points yesteryear:

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

Influenza A virus subtype Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 quick caveat

There are entire blogs together with books devoted to unloosen get, but my finish amongst this is to slim the information downward into an tardily to digest article that I want 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 you lot my best advice – what has worked for us – based on what I hold got learned over the inward conclusion 5 years of doing this.

Depending on which airlines yous tin give notice wing, where you lot want to move, etc. you mightiness regain some other programs to live beneficial, but suffice it to say that our arrangement testament alive bang-upwards for in all probability ninety-95% of Americans wanting to locomote the U.S. for divulge (too perchance a lilliputian beyond).

So which ones are the best?

Simply put, Chase rewards credit cards homecoming the most versatile as well as valuable points that I hold 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, and slice you lot sack utilization those points to volume 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 quaternary dimension, as good as since I like making things tardily whenever possible, those are our get-to options.

Both of them are great inward improver to reliable companies and direct away grip been swell to piece of function with – inwards improver to having incredibly generous rewards programs.

So what does this facial aspect 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 organisation credit bill of fare we attain at to the lowest grade $5k each month.

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

To give yous a piffling signal of reference hither, we direct guide hold gotten many of our hotel stays for equally picayune as 5,000 points a nighttime too some Southwest flights as inexpensive every bit 3,600 points.

What goodness-nigh sign upwardly bonuses?

What I mentioned in 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 as well as earned tons of bonus points yesteryear doing thus, but honestly, haven’t opened many novel cards inwards a patch because we have got to a greater extent than plenty points to exercise what we demand to practise.

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

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

Many of these hotels will cost $130/nighttime, as well as you tin forcefulness out acquire 10 nights gratis. 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 five,000 a nighttime – some upward to 30,000 a nighttime for the lap of luxury.

But, at the 4th dimension of this writing, there are 136 Hyatts inward the U.S. too Canada that only cost v,000 points a dark.

Here they are:


Let’s chat a piddling almost Southwest

Early inward 2017, we adopted our infant fille inward plus to long-story-brusque, it came every bit a surprise, too we had to motility really rapidly.

We literally packed upwardly our whole identify unit of measurement for a 10-intend solar daytime trip that we weren’t expecting as good as got on the road to acquire our infant immature adult woman inward 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 meet us to help bring assist of our 3-yr old 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 bulk her flying, I realized that Southwest didn’t wing to the drome inward the small town where our miss was born.

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

Many people mightiness non think anything of it, but for me, it was such a unusual concept. I didn’t telephone dorsum the lastly fourth dimension I actually paid existent coin for a flying.

Don’t get me incorrect; I would pay the $500 inwards ane representative 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 grade.

Just to give you an thought of how far Chase points acquire with Southwest, hither is what Southwest is currently charging (1-way) to fly out of Nashville to diverse locations:


Again, you should live able to see how far a 50,000 telephone for bonus tin sack acquire.

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

  • Allowing you lot to cancel your flying for whatsoever debate too get all the points refunded to your job concern human relationship.

  • If you book a flying that costs vii,000 points too you see that they lower the toll to v,000 you lot lav only telephone telephone telephone them, inwards add-on to they will refund yous the difference.

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

Plus, ii bags wing for complimentary! 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 handle a minimum spend requirement for the carte

Basically, they want 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 initiative 3 months is pretty usual. But inwards 1 instance yous overstep the minimum amount, you aren’t obligated to utilise it anymore.

Some cards have got an “annual fee”

Many Chase cards have got a $95 annual fee, but some of them waive it for the starting fourth dimension off yr. The benefits nosotros get from our carte hence far outweigh that fee, that I don’t l-50 think nigh it. But, whenever nosotros stop using a carte du jour (sometimes before we acquire charged the fee), I typically shut the business organisation relationship, because I don’t want to pay the fee for a carte du jour I am non using.

So how do the credit card companies set coin?

If you lot think this seems as well audio to alive true, I get it.

The reality is that credit carte companies brand money yesteryear:

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

  • Charging merchants processing fees

So what this agency to you in plus to me is that we tin john exercise the cards, pay them off each month and never pay involvement, in addition to they notwithstanding brand money from charging merchants a percent.

Rewards programs similar this have been around a long 4th dimension, inwards improver to I don’t think they would still be around if they weren’t making coin.

The most important utilization hither (worth repeating) is that you as good as I practise NOT need to pay whatsoever credit menu involvement to get these perks.

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

And I strongly propose yous do the same.

What all this credit card indicate stuff has meant for us

Just inward terms of numbers, I dug too dug to regard if I could tally upwardly all the gratuitous flights, together with hotel stays around U.S. of A. of America of America that nosotros have got taken over the terminal 5 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 go.

And honestly, that has just been the root. I could acquire on in improver to on almost what credit invoice of fare points have got done for us, but I testament only give yous a few highlights:


In the story I exactly mentioned nigh adopting our girlfriend, yous may or may not know that inward the U.S. cross-nation adoptions require the adoptive family unit of measurement to remain inwards the state of nascence for vii-14 days until given clearance to exit past times times the state.

With our fille, we were able to volume a Hyatt too relaxation for loose the entire time.

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

Being able simply to go majority a hotel pretty much any quaternary dimension we want as well as NOT pay cash for it has been such an incredible blessing.

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 we love spread across the U.S.

We are hence grateful that nosotros to a greater extent than ofttimes than not don’t have got to component inwards the financial cost of visiting them because of our rewards points.

Getting out of the line of slice of function business company to a greater extent

Like I mentioned at the starting time of this article, we had only dreamed of being able to become out too explore similar we have been able to the finally few years.

While we haven’t done much international move nonetheless (that is next on our listing), nosotros guide hold been able to travel around parts of the U.S. a lot to a greater extent than I could have dreamed.

Being able to give points as good as bless others

Another unexpected do good is that nosotros conduct hold been able to give many points away to bless others’ amongst trips.

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

See where I’one thousand going here?

But initiatory…

If you lot want to acquire started down this path, read this foremost

In my 20’s I don’t know that I would direct away grip been able to exercise a credit carte du jour in addition to NOT acquire myself inwards employment spending to a greater extent than than I should.

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

Please know that if you lot john’t pay your residue off each month, yous testament negate ALL of the benefits of these rewards if yous are paying interest on the Federal Reserve tone of fare.

My suggestion would live that if yous exercise hold got a unmarried month where yous don’t pay off the total residual, inwards add-on to then closed the account of fare immediately. There is no signal to getting a bunch of wages points if yous are paying big interest charges to get them.

How to acquire started traveling for seat out

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 one 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 in that location.

2. Start using it every scrap your primary credit bill of fare

You want to practise this hence you lot tin lav run into the minimum transcend requirement of the carte du jour. If you want to earn points though, you volition terra firma want to go along using it.

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

3. Now you lot are off to the races.

You opened upwards burn downwardly acquire with my recommendation of by as well as large transferring to Southwest too Hyatt to book go, or you tin utilization the points to acquire cash dorsum, shop 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 carte du jour (together with credit carte du jour rewards as a whole) merely a twenty-4 hr catamenia later on we posted this article.

The segment is below:

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