Oh, travel hacking – why was I so afraid and judgmental of you for so long?
Finally seeing the light at the end of 2017 led to the trips we were able to travel hack in 2019 – two nights in Nashville, two nights in Atlanta and three nights in Salt Lake City. Oh, and those 13 amazing nights in Greece. I still get blown away every time we step onto a plane, pick up a rental car and check into a hotel using points we’ve earned by spending as we normally would (to see our budget in real time, click or tap here).
If you aren’t too familiar with travel hacking, please pause here and read this very long and detailed post to learn what exactly travel hacking is, who can benefit from it and why we choose to do it, plus the systems we use to ensure we never overspend or pay a penny of credit card interest. From there, if you’re interested in learning more about the sequence of cards we opened (and why we chose these cards) before we got to the new one that I’m about to announce, check out the links below and come back!
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (December 2017)
- Chase Ink Business Preferred (February 2018)
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business (December 2018)
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier (December 2018)
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless (September 2019)
As you can see, all those cards are issued by Chase, which has been pretty convenient since all my personal cards are listed together on one login and my two (now one) business cards were on another. And I still have all of these cards, with the recent exception of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Business. We earned the Companion Pass already and will keep it through 2020 (learn more about that here), so I canceled it to keep from paying the annual fee again. Since the Southwest Rapid Rewards points we’ve earned are ours to keep regardless of keeping the cards or not, I had also planned to cancel the personal version of this card too, but I was offered a $100 statement credit to keep it. This offset the $99 annual fee, leaving me with a balance of -$1.00.
Alright, enough of all that. Let’s talk about my very first non-Chase card!
Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
- Sign-up Bonus Miles: 60,000
- Annual Fee: $99
- Spending Limit to Receive Bonus: One cent, I guess. No, I’m serious! Making a purchase in the first 90 days (no matter how small it is) and paying the annual fee is all it takes to get the bonus.
- Introductory Companion Certificate redeemable for one domestic economy fare companion ticket at $99 (plus taxes and fees)
- No foreign transaction fees
- No fee for first checked bag on domestic flights for cardholder and up to four companions
- Preferred boarding for cardholder and up to four companions
- Travel and purchase coverage
Since this is a personal card instead of a business card, the application process is really quick and simple with all the basic questions – your name, address, phone number, type of residence, total gross annual income, type of income, etc. If you’re currently an American Airlines AAdvantage Program member, you can also provide your member number so that it’s printed on your card.
The application shows the words “Get an Instant Response” in big, bold red letters at the top, which led me to think I would get approved right away as I was for all the personal cards I’ve applied for with Chase, but instead the response I received was, “Thanks for your interest. Your application is being reviewed.”
If you receive this response too, you’ll receive an email that contains a link where you can check your application status at any time. They promise to let you know within 10 days, and I received an email on the 10th day letting me know I was approved. I received the card exactly one week later.
So, why did I choose this card?
Because American Airlines offers a direct flight from Nashville to London – and that lack of a spending limit is pretty awesome too. At the time I write this, I’ve already made a small budgeted purchase and paid the annual fee using a sinking fund, and my 60,000 bonus miles and Companion Certificate are headed my way!
But why did this direct flight determine my decision? Because we’ll be heading to England, Scotland and Ireland in 2020! I just told Ron on Christmas (we have a yearly tradition of taking turns choosing our next big destination and revealing that destination on Christmas), so we have absolutely zero details to share right now, but I’ll let you guys know when we get everything figured out.
Okay, I think that’s all there is to tell for now! This card doesn’t offer a referral bonus if you use any of the links in this post, but all of the others I listed at the beginning of the post do. If you end up trying out travel hacking as a result of any of my posts (do so responsibly, please!) and choose one or more of those cards, please use my link. I’ll get extra points as a result, and you’ll receive your own referral link after you receive your card!
So, have you visited any of the three countries we’ll be visiting this year? If you have, I’d love to hear everything you think we should know!