While I am certainly NOT an advocate of credit card DEBT, I do believe that if you can trust yourself to pay off your card every month, you can rake in some incredible deals. Here's proof. Recently I used a $50 credit on one card to put gas in the van (didn't even fill it) and 2 months ago I used Wyndham Reward points to get a 2 night hotel stay for free. But the best was yet to come:
Last fall I had signed up for an American Airlines Citi Card because they were offering 100,000 bonus miles if you jumped through a few hoops. (I actually read about the offer on http://www.bradsdeals.com/.) I was frustrated with some changes in the card I had then, so I took the leap. Over 100,000 miles are now sitting in my rewards account.
Fast forward to present: Alec Baldwin pops up on TV advertising the Capital One "Venture Match My Miles Challenge." Did you see it advertised during the final four playoffs? They were going to match a billion miles (up to 100,000 miles per person) first come, first served. Could I do it again? I didn't think it would actually work, but I signed up online anyway. We got the card and I immediately turned in (online) the paperwork for the mileage challenge--proof that we had the 100,000 miles in our AA Citi account. I didn't get any kind of confirmation, so I was expecting the worst. Then the next day, Citi's website said the promo was over; they had given out all billion miles. Oh well, can't win them all, I thought to myself.
But GUESS WHAT?? Yesterday I got the confirmation email that our miles did post in time! And I got 10,000 extra miles to boot for using the card right way. Woot! So what's this frugal mama do? She immediately starts planning a surprise (almost free) summer vacation for the fam before the miles disappear in some black void I don't yet know about. Gotta love it!
Will I keep both cards? No. Once I use up the points, I will drop the American Airlines card a.) because it costs $89 a year-first year waived, and b.) Capital One has a much better system. At Capital One you get TWO miles for every dollar spent (as opposed to ONE dollar at AA), there are no blackouts and you can fly with any airline. You just exchange miles for credit. Example: Buy an airline ticket for $135 on sale? Just add two zeros--13500--and that's how many miles you have to exchange for the $135 credit to your account. It is $54.00 a year, first year waived. But I have a year to decide if it's worth it. One caveat: you have to have a really great credit score to get the card. 802 got us there without a problem.
Tell me what deals you have received for being smart with your card. OR, tell me your credit card nightmare and why you will--Dave Ramsey style--never use them again!