Ahhhhhh……2013.  It’s been a lucrative year in the Club Thrifty household.  Aside from the fact that my husband was unemployed for a few months this summer, we made a pretty decent amount of money.  We saved a lot and we’re ready to put a pretty big down payment on our new house next month.  We also traveled a lot, including trips to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Florida (twice).  Fortunately, a ton of our extracurricular activities were funded via credit card rewards.  Here’s how:

Barclay Arrival World Mastercard

I know, I know.  You’re tired of hearing about it.  But, seriously.  The Barclay Arrival World MasterCard is seriously THE CARD for travel in 2013. Why?  Because you could book the travel anywhere and just request a statement credit after-the-fact.  I personally like this method because it doesn’t tie me down to booking through anywhere in particular.  You can literally book your travel wherever you want – directly through an airline, on Expedia.com, on Priceline.com, whatever, and request a credit.  Winning!  And since the annual fee is waived for the first year, it’s literally free money as long as you cancel the card in time.

We both signed up for the Barclay Arrival World MasterCard for this sweet deal: spend $1,000 in three months and get 40,000 bonus travel miles.  And since you also get 1 point/$1 spent, this travel reward ends up being $410 per person.  So basically we got $820 in travel rewards to spend.  So, what did we do with it?

  • – We paid for a frugal weekend getaway with the kids
  • – We are paying for a hotel room for our anniversary next week
  • – We used the rest toward our upcoming all-inclusive trip to Jamaica

Boom.  That’s how you do it. 

Chase Ink Bold Business Card

Even though my business expenses are only a few hundred dollars a month,  I sign up for business credit cards for rewards.  Is that legal?  Dear Chase, bite me.  Anyhoo, I signed up for the Chase Ink Bold Business card for this deal: Spend $5,000 in three months and earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Bonus points.  Yes, please!  Since we were moving and had some larger upcoming expenses, I signed up for this deal.  (We usually wouldn’t spend $5,000 in three months but we did some long-term maintenance on one of our rental properties = $$$$$)

So, what did I do with it?

I booked two round-trip flights to Jamaica for this upcoming February.  I didn’t have quite enough rewards to cover the whole thing, so I had to pay the difference.  It ended up being only $96, or $48 per ticket.  Not bad, huh?

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express

Basically, the deal was this: Spend $5,000 in six months and earn 25,000 starpoints.  And although it took a long time to spend $10,000, we managed easily by putting our monthly grocery spending ($500), monthly gas and miscellaneous ($200) and two vacations on the card.

Anyway, we’ve decided to spend the points next fall when we travel to the U.K, and this is where we’re going:

Park Lane Hotel in London  This bitch is smack dab across the street from Buckingham Palace.  It’s down the street from Hyde Park and near the theatre district that I sooooooooo want to check out.  In fact, it’s within walking distance of Queen’s Theatre where you can see the stage version of Les Miserables.  It also has a vegan menu in the hotel’s restaurant.  It’s like a dream come true!!!

Next year I’ll start planning our trips for 2015 as well.  Where do you think we should go?  I’d really love to lay on the beach in Messini, Greece, or see the Great Wall of China.  I also really want to get back to Mexico and New Orleans.  We’ll see!

So, to all you reward earners out there, what cards are your favorites?  Also, where do you plan to travel next year?