How Credit Cards Paid Me to Go on Vacation

Caribbean CruiseCheck out the picture to the right. That’s my wife and I enjoying a 5 day Caribbean cruise just last week. We had a blast visiting Haiti and Jamaica, and other then the full layer of skin that peeled off my face, I’d say we had a good time.

Now why do you care right?

Recently I wrote about why you should have a credit card. I got a little bit of backlash because it’s unconventional advice. What I’m suggesting to you is the positive side of being smart with your money, and how you can use a financial tool that  can be the cause of some of the poorest financial situations, to your advantage.

Let me share with you how my credit cards paid me to go on a tropical vacation.

Free Flights for Both of Us

Late last year there was a credit card offer circling around the internet from Southwest Airlines. They were offering 50,000 bonus points to new card holders, and I fit that profile. They were also offering 50,000 bonus points to new business card holders, which profile I fit as well. So I got them… both of them.

Those points alone were enough to get us both there, easy, but I learned about something called a “companion pass” which would essentially let my spouse travel free with me for a full year. Pretty sweet deal huh? I needed 110,000 points to get the pass and I was just short.

That’s when I learned about transferring points. A Marriott Rewards card offered me 50,000 points, 30,000 of which equalled 10,000 Southwest Points. So I got the card, transferred the points, and used the remaining 20,000 to book the hotel room the night before our cruise left the port. Oh ya, and I also got a bonus free night with the card that we used on our Anniversary. Not bad…

When I booked the flights, I only ended up using 25,000 points to get us to Fort Lauderdale, so I still have around 85,000 points I’d like to use before the end of the year. Needless to say we’ll be having another vacation or two.

Booking the Cruise

So I had a great way to get there, but still needed to book the cruise. This was easy as well since Chase had just offered me two cards. One at 50,000 bonus points, and one at 25,000. These equated to a $750 credit to my account, which I used to book the cruise. I waited and found a great deal on one of Royal Caribbean’s largest ships, the Liberty of the Seas, and booked it.

All in all I ended up covering the entire cost of the cruise, which I would normally borrow from my life insurance policy. And the best part of it is, I’ve still got another 2 or 3 flights in points to use for future trips.

Moral of the story- credit cards are just another financial tool. Use them wrong, and you’ll probably be sorry, use them right, and you’ll get a few extra perks you might not have otherwise had.

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By Jake | Follow Jake on Twitter