Playing the Credit Card Game

…of credit cards, that is.

Last June, I started reading The Cheapskate’s Guide to Vacations by Stephen Tanenbaum. The word “cheapskate” immediately peaked my interest and the book didn’t disappoint. Chapter 2 is entitled “Better than Cheap: Free Travel.” In it, Tanenbaum describes how he figured out and conquered the credit card game in order to obtain free travel to many exotic locations.

This morning, ST and I booked our flights to Dallas to watch a Cowboys game with our close friends. We booked via Southwest so we used the 50,000 points we banked for signing up for their Rapid Rewards Card. Plus, we had 711 points added for recent purchases on the card. The trip cost us 30,960 points and $15 (for taxes). We still have 19,751 points. Essentially, we’re flying to Dallas and back for $15. Our friends are Cowboys season ticket holder so our tickets are free :-D The hotel will cost something like $65 per night so this will be an affordable trip.

This made me feel immensely satisfied.

It also got me thinking about being a travel cheapskate. There are so many credit card offers these days that lure new customers with tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of points for the initial sign-up and spending minimum. Sometimes the annual fee is even waived for a year. Am I savvy enough to get in this game?

A quick Google search brought me to The Points Guy. Within one year, he signed up for 7 new credit cards, he earned 553,500 travel points, logged $545 in fees, and must spend $15,000 within a few months to bank those points. After reading this entry and comments, I don’t want to have any part in this crazy game.

In the words of Admiral Akbar – “It’s a trap!”

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As I perused the blog, I read comments about credit cards “sprees” and discussions about how to keep track of your spending and which card had to be canceled before incurring an annual fee. Just reading all that stuff gave me a headache. Not to mention the $15,000 of debt that makes you eligible for those points. That doesn’t sound so savvy to me.

We have two credit cards that we use for all household expenses. That’s enough for us.

I think that means I just beat the game.

One Response to Playing the Credit Card Game

  • machupchu says:

    i guess a good way to keep track of who to cancel would be to program it into your ical and iphone so it will beep when it’s time. it’s all a game. hope to see u all saturday at gram’s bday. the girl and i r so tan.

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