How 2 “Stoners” got 2 First Class Flights and 2 Nights Hotel Stays for Only $22.40!
Sitting in our terminal at Denver International, we could barely contain our excitement as our gate attendant announced, “Now boarding priority first class”. We grabbed our backpacks, and started for the plane. As we sat down next to each other in our big comfy seats, we adjusted our oversized headrests and got our feet kicked out into our extra leg room, we looked at each other and smiled. There was a look in our eyes at that moment. One of excitement and adventure, but also of accomplishment and gratitude. We had no idea when we started collecting miles and rewards points back in 2015, we’d be using them to complete the entire 420 Games 2017 Tour.
In fact, if you haven’t read our about us page, this all really started in preparation for us quitting our jobs, selling our 3 bedroom 3 bath house and almost all of our belongings, and hitting the road in our Ford Expedition and Coachmen Freedom Express camper trailer in tow! At that time, we thought we had it all figured out. As we left our house, we kicked gravel and dust into the wind and headed off to start our new lives. We were on our way to becoming successful travel writers. That, on the other hand, is a story for another time.
For now, we’re going to tell you all about how we were able to get 2 round trip, first class tickets, from Denver to Los Angeles, as well as 2 nights hotel stays, for a total of only $22.40, in airline taxes & fees! We earned all of the travel rewards without even taking one step inside an airplane! Not only are we going to share with you the strategies we used to collect miles, and how you can too, but also, where we learned the strategies from the beginning! This way, you will have all the resources you need to start taking advantage of rewards programs, and earning yourself free flights, hotel stays, and many other travel perks! So get ready to be flying first class and sleeping in hotels for free on your next trip, once you use these strategies to rack up tons of your own miles!
Let’s start with how we were able to collect enough miles without even stepping on an airplane. There are a ton of different strategies you can use to accumulate free travel in rewards in all categories from ground transport, hotels, and flights. They can range from easy to some pretty elaborate algorithms. We’re going to leave the algorithms to the experts, and stick to the basics that worked for us. Having worked in finance, we already knew our way around credit card rewards programs fairly well, so we felt comfortable taking advantage of airline rewards credit cards.
Our goal was to accumulate as many miles as possible, in as short a time as possible, so we focused on sign up bonuses. If you aren’t familiar with sign up bonuses, credit card companies want your business so bad, they’re willing to pay you to become a customer. A lot of times, they’re willing to pay you quite a bit, as long you meet a few requirements. Most of the time the requirement will be to spend a minimum amount of money on the card in a specific amount of time.
For example, our first airline miles rewards card was, the British Airways Chase Visa. At the time we applied, the sign up bonus offer was 50,000 Avios (British Airways’ word for miles) when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. We each got our own card, and in three months, we were already sitting on a cushion of 100,000 Avios, ready to go at any time. Little did we know, these would be the miles we’d use to get our first class round trip tickets to LA, to attend our first ever 420 Games! Before we get into how we were able to meet the spending requirements, let’s first touch on why credit card companies are willing to pay you so much to become a customer.
Credit card companies don’t just earn money on interest and fees. Even if you pay your bill off on time every month, which you should, you still make money for the credit card company through interchange income fees. You may have seen some places, like gas stations and convenience stores, offering you a lower price for payment in cash. This is because every time you swipe your credit or debit card at a terminal, the credit card company, or issuing bank, charges the merchant a small % of the transaction. The credit card companies still make a majority of their profit off of interest and fees, but interchange fee income is a HUGE income stream for those companies and banks, and this is why they’re willing to pay you just to start doing business with them. Then again, they are also banking on the fact that most people will end up carrying a balance so they can earn some of that high APY interest they love so much, but if you pay off your balance each month, you won’t have to pay any interest. In fact, they’ll pay you!
In order for them to pay you, you need to meet those spending requirements, which is actually very easy when you do it right. The first step, is to set up every single bill you have, that can be paid by credit card, to your rewards credit card, and we mean every one. We’re talking your internet, gym membership, even your Netflix monthly payment now goes on your new rewards card. Step two is as simple as using your new rewards card for every purchase you make, from gas to groceries. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying just a pack of gum for a couple bucks. Put it on your credit card! Every purchase you make now earns you rewards on your credit card. Cash is pointless! It offers you nothing! By putting all of your everyday expenses, as well as all of your monthly bills on your credit card, you’re only charging what you’re already going to pay out of your checking account any way, so you can pay off the balance of the card without getting charged interest, and CHA CHING! Now you’re getting paid monthly, just to spend the money you’d be spending anyway, on your rewards credit card.
We used this strategy to meet our minimum spending requirements on our British Airways Chase Visas, which got us our first 100,000 Avios. What makes this so cool is, we only had to cash in 60,000 Avios for our two first class round trip tickets to LA! That leaves us with enough Avios left over for one more round trip ticket! Not to mention a couple other airline mile rewards cards with sign up bonuses we took advantage of over the past couple years, like our Citi American Airlines World Elite MasterCards! Both of which racked us up 30,000 American Airline miles each, for a total of 60,000 miles!
As if free airfare wasn’t enough, we decided to collect other rewards cards throughout the years, with additional benefits like statement credits towards ANY travel related purchase. This is how we got our two nights hotel stays while we were in LA, entirely free! Yet another sign up bonus got us 25,000 rewards points with the Capital One Venture Visa. We redeemed just under 20,000 points towards a statement credit of $200.00. First night in LA, free! We then used 10,000 points from our Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa, and got our second night in LA, absolutely free!
Still want to pay with cash, check, or ACH? We hope not! You’re getting NO REWARDS! As long as you are responsible with your credit cards, pay them off each month in full, you can take advantage of the free money these companies are willing to throw your way. There are many other strategies besides credit cards sign up bonuses, but we aren’t the experts, and won’t ever pretend to be. Our goal is to share with you what we know best, that has worked for us, and to provide the same resources we used, for you to expand your knowledge in whichever direction it might take you. For more information regarding airline miles and other rewards programs strategies and tips, please check out the bottom of the page for links to our favorite resources!
Like we mentioned earlier, when we first started collecting these miles, we had no idea we’d be using them to complete the entire 420 Games 2017 Tour, and other events. If we had just used these miles and rewards on travel so we could get out to see the world, that would have been great. However, knowing now, we are using these miles and rewards to travel so we can create a platform to portray marijuana in a positive light, is quite humbling. We feel honored to know our efforts over the past few years, to create a more meaningful life for ourselves, are going to go directly towards helping improve the lives of millions of people who don’t have access to marijuana as a medicine, and as a safe recreational alternative for alcohol and tobacco. We seriously couldn’t feel more fulfilled in our lives, and we look forward to the many years to come.