I didn’t have a credit card until I was 27. I grew up indoctrinated by the Dave Ramsey’s of the world who said that credit cards were evil and should be avoided at all costs. While I greatly respect Dave and follow many of his principles, I disagree with him when it comes to credit cards. To be fair, Dave’s target audience does tend to be people who are struggling to get out of large amounts of consumer debt, and who have demonstrated a lack of ability to control spending. Also, studies have shown that using cash does typically help a person spend less money than using plastic.
For the ordinary, 80-90 percent of the U.S. population, I would agree that credit cards are a risky endeavor. However, If you are self controlled and able to pay off your balances every month, credit cards can actually be a debt reduction tool.
How would I know?
Because I just paid $2,000 towards my student loan debt by using credit cards rewards!
Travel hacking and using credit card points has been around for a while. Many people are able to book exotic vacations for next to nothing due to savvy point accumulation. I’m excited to do that one day, but for now I’m throwing everything that I can towards eliminating my debt .
So how was I able to let Chase bank so generously donate to my get out of debt fund? See the step by step plan below.
I acquired the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
This card offered a 50,000 point sign up bonus if I could hit the $4,000 minimum spend requirement within the first 3 months. Fortunately, I’m able to put almost all of my bills on my credit card and I was able to hit the spend requirement without going out of my way to get there. There is a 95$ annual fee, but I will be able to cover that fee with rewards from my additional spending.
After I hit the minimum spend requirement, I had around 55,000 points in my Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
Next, I acquired the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
Similar to the Preferred, I had to hit the $4,000 minimum spend requirement, but the Reserve was offering a 100,000 Chase Reward points. The annual fee for the Reserve is a steep $450 dollars. However, the card offers a $300 dollar per year travel reimbursement, effectively reducing the fee to $150 dollars per year if I can use the travel perk. With my job, I’m able to put some work flights on my card and be reimbursed, so I essentially get that money back through work reimbursement. The final $150 is easily earned back through points accumulated from a year’s worth of spending on the card.
Once I reached the minimum spend requirement and received the points, I had approximately 165,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Finally, I acquired the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
This card was offering a 15,000 point sign up bonus with a minimum spend that was only $500 dollars. This card has no annual fee.
After reaching the minimum spend, and accumulating points from other purchases, I had over 200,000 points in my Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
With Chase Ultimate Rewards, you have plenty of options. You can use the rewards for travel, shopping, or cash back. Normally, you’ll get the most value out of your reward points by using them with Chase’s partners and redeeming them for travel. However, the greatest return for me was to use the cash back feature and payoff $2,000 worth of my student loans.
As you can see, by being disciplined and utilizing credit card rewards programs, you can let credit card companies pay you and help you reach your financial goals.
How about you? Have you had any experience with “Credit Card Hacking?” Any tips that you’ve discovered that you’d like to pass along? Anything that you think I may have missed? Comment below!