Earn Tons of Ultimate Rewards Points: Buying Gift Cards [For places you already spend $] = Free Travel!

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Free Travel is always my goal for my family. We use various strategies to get points and miles to make our travel cheap or free. Our main strategies for getting points and status include:

  • Maximizing credit card sign ups
  • Registering for bonuses at hotels, airlines, etc.
  • Tracking deals [I follow a lot of travel related blogs]
  • Purchasing gift cards 

I want to talk about my new strategy of purchasing gift cards to increase Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These are really valuable points because they offer an opportunity to transfer points to many of my favorite travel partners [Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt]. This is not a new strategy – people have been doing this for a long time. I just clued in and I want to share how you too can maximize points without changing your spending habits.

If you have a Chase credit card that gives you bonus points for purchasing in certain categories I suggest that you take a minute and learn how to ‘bank’ a lot of points quickly my maximizing the categories. I do this by using my Chase Ink Plus card to earn Ultimate Rewards points. The Ink Plus offers 5 times the points on purchases at office supply stores.

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How To Earn Ultimate Rewards Points

We don’t do a lot of shopping at office supply stores so at first glance this does not seem very interesting, but this is actually where it gets interesting. You can purchase gift cards for things you use already at any office supply store and the purchase is considered an office supply. For my family we shop at Whole Foods and Amazon a lot, so those seemed like low hanging fruit and this is where I started.

I went to our local office supply store and purchased $500 worth of Whole Foods cards. I easily spend this amount each month. For the $500 of Whole Foods gift cards I purchased with my Chase Ink Plus card, I received 2,500 Ultimate Rewards points. This is where some math comes into play to get my excited to continue to add an additional step to my shopping.

Here’s the math on adding one step to my grocery shopping: 30,000 UR points/year

$500/mo. x 5 points/$ = 2,500 UR points/month

2,500 UR points/mo. x 12 mo/yr = 30,000 UR points/year

Without adding any additional spending, I just made 30k very valuable travel points I can use on airlines or hotels. Ultimate Rewards points can be instantly transferred to Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt, and many more travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Learn how 30,000 UR points can just about take a family of 4 on two round trips from Denver to Seattle AND Denver to San Diego on Southwest Airlines – read my post on how you can maximize travel using Southwest points. 

If you have questions about how to use this strategy get ahold of me – Email Amanda

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Southwest Gets You Out of Town: Seriously Cheap Tix from Denver

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I’m excited. A quick check in this morning for tickets to Seattle found this: $45 or 2,055 points each way Denver [DEN] to Seattle [SEA]. That’s $90 round trip. This is cheap travel, but in my experience flying Southwest doesn’t feel like a discount airlines. You can pay for Early Bird check in [$15] and they don’t charge for up to 2 bags. We are considering this option for taking a ski trip to Whistler/Blackcomb with the family.

Denver to Seattle Flights

How to Find Cheap Tickets on Southwest

To find cheap fares on Southwest I pick my city pair. Then I pick random dates to get into the search engine. Then pick points or dollars [these are very interchangeable, so just pick one and then you can see the other one later]. Click on the dates you want to travel.

One thing about Southwest is that their flights will not turn up on other search engines [e.g., Google Flights or ITA Matrix]. You have to go directly to Southwest.com. It’s super easy.

This was a great find! I can take my family of 4 round trip to Seattle for 16,440 points. Unreal. So I poked around just a little and found that I can also take my family to San Diego for the same amount of points. Thank you, Southwest Airlines!

Denver to San Diego Flights

Getting Southwest Points

Wondering how to get Southwest points, I suggest signing up for the Southwest Airlines credit card and getting 40,000 points. Then you can take your whole family to Seattle and San Diego in the future and have a few points left over.

#Skiing #EpicPass #VailResorts #Canada #Seattle #SanDiego #Families #CheapTix #CheapTickets

 

Why Southwest Airlines Rocks It For Traveling Families!

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Traveling with a family can be tricky. It can be expensive. Things come up. It’s tough to get everyone’s calendars synced. Needs change. Southwest Airlines to the rescue. The fact that Southwest in budget conscious and very flexible make me loyal to this brand. Southwest Airlines really rocks it for families!

Here is why my family loves flying with Southwest Airlines:

  • Change Your Flights Without Fees. Unlike any other domestic airline, you can book flights [paid or points] and then make a change to them up to 10 minutes prior to boarding for FREE. This is golden for my family!
    • I often book flights on Southwest with the idea that we MIGHT go. Sometimes I am just dreaming. Sometimes I need to figure out if this trip works with everyone’s schedules. I book the flights and then figure things out. I can take more than 24 hours that other airlines let me have to get things figured out or wait to see if the other pieces of the trip will come together.
    • For example, we have tickets booked to go from Denver To Salt Lake City this winter because we want to ski at Park City Ski Area. I’m still not sure how the snow will be in Utah, so I’ll sit on these tickets until we have a clearer idea of snow fall, without worrying about change fees. Flexibility is key for my family!
  • Free Checked Bags. You get 2 free checked bags which saves you a bunch over other airlines unless you have elite status or have their credit card.
    • This is self explanatory, but if I was flying on United or other major airline carriers, I would pay a fee per bag if I did not have elite status or their branded credit card. This could cost my family hundreds. I hate to pay extra fees! 
  • Early Bird Check In. You don’t get a seat when you book a flight on Southwest, but you can pay $15 to get their Early Bird Check-In. Since you don’t have assigned seats you can just have one parent go on board early [just pay $15 once] and save seats for the whole family. Everyone does it, so it’s not strange.
    • If cost isn’t an issue then just get everyone in your travel party Early Bird Check-in when you purchase tickets. If you want to save some $ then just divide up your reservation and make sure one parent is going on early to save seats for the entire family.
  • Excellent Value/Use of Points. If you plan ahead, and sometimes last minute, Southwest offers really low cost travel options – which is great for my family of 4!
    • Southwest is a great option any time you are traveling last minute as they are definitely worth checking and at times offer an excellent value.
    • Southwest points are usually a better deal than most other airlines. For example, I wanted to fly from LA to Denver this month [November] and there are plenty of $44 [2002 points] or $79 [4045 points] one way. On United would cost me much more if I purchase a revenue ticket or between 12,000 and 25,000 points one way.
  • Easily Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest Points. If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points you can easily transfer then 1 to 1 and fill up your Southwest points account when you need them most. 

Southwest really works for our family. The things I love the most are their flexibility and low cost/low points. I regularly transfer Ultimate Rewards points into my Southwest account to book flights. I love that I can leave the points in my rewards card until I need them – just in case I need them for some other reason. Southwest just makes my life so simple and helps our family to travel more!

How about the rest of you traveling families – what is your favorite airlines and why?