I have big news that may surprise many, disappoint some, underwhelm several and excite others.
For the first time since I was 18 – and after over a decade of condemning them as evil traps – I signed up for and was approved for a credit card today.
Okay, that may not sound like big news, but this is pretty major for me.
Now, before the die-hard and anti-credit card Dave Ramsey followers see themselves to the door – hear me out.
This was not a lighthearted, spur of the moment or easy decision for me.
After all, I was that Dave Ramsey follower for a third of my life. Shortly after discovering him at the age of 19, I cut up my three department store credit cards, paid them off and swore I would never open another.
Until the last year or so, I internally judged anyone and everyone I knew who used credit cards. After stumbling upon the personal finance world after creating this blog and subsequent social media accounts, I discovered that many podcasters and bloggers openly used them. But they were wrong. Credit cards, their high fees and high interest rates were horrible products, and every single person on the planet who used them was setting him or herself up for disaster.
Reaching the decision to open a credit card was a tough one, even more so for my debt and risk averse husband.
Well then. Why the change of heart?
What is travel hacking?
I’m a newbie, so my simple definition and intention is this – opening specific credit cards for the purpose of earning large sign-on bonuses, then redeeming the bonus points for free/cheap travel.
Why is this important to me?
I’m not striving to be debt free or to become wealthy. I’m striving for the freedom to spend my finite supply of time the way I choose, and that means spending as much of that time as possible exploring this amazing world.
To achieve that freedom, my husband and I plan to save and invest over half of our income until reaching financial independence, at which point we will be able to quit our time-consuming jobs. In order to travel as far and as often as I would like, we will need to optimize our finances to the best of our ability.
First, our mortgage free journey will end soon, freeing up about $650 per month in our budget.
Second, we have an extremely expensive trip to Russia planned for June (more on this later on). We may have gotten into travel hacking too late to fully utilize rewards for this trip, but at the least, this vacation involves large purchases that will earn rewards for future trips.
What’s the plan?
I opened the first card today, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, as a part of The Chase Gauntlet Strategy.
This card has a 50,000 point bonus when reaching the spending requirement of $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account and has no fees the first year.
Since I had not opened a credit card in over ten years, I was not sure how extensive the application would be or how long it would take to be approved. I completed it in less than five minutes on my phone and was surprised when I was approved instantly after clicking “Submit.”
The card will arrive in 7-10 days. I will begin paying our standard monthly bills, groceries, gas and budgeted entertainment with it, then immediately paying off those amounts with my debit card afterwards so that no balance is being carried.
Living in a very low cost area and being as frugal as we are, it would not be possible for us to reach the $4,000 spending requirement – without purposely overspending and thereby defeating the purpose – if we weren’t planning to purchase airline tickets and hotel stays within the next three months.
Afterwards, TBD. I’m learning as I go. This will be a new adventure of mistakes and successes, and I will share them all with you so that hopefully you can learn through my experiences.
As always, the intent of this blog is to share my experience, not to recommend that you do anything that I’m doing. If you are struggling with debt (especially credit card debt) or are carrying a credit card balance month to month, travel hacking is not for you at this stage.
I’m excited about this new venture, and I hope that you can be excited for me, even if you disagree with what I’m doing. I realize I may lose readers who feel that I’m departing from my old mindset, but I really hope you can keep an open mind instead.
I refuse to have a fixed mindset about anything. I am constantly learning, growing and changing my mind, my outlook, my thoughts and my ways.
I hope you’re doing the same.
If you have a question, piece of advice or comment, I’d love to hear it. Comment below or touch base with me on Instagram!