I promised a post on how I can actually take an international vacation for free. Better yet, I'll show how I can take that same vacation and put a significant amount of money in my pocket. It's all legal and doable. So how? Well, this post is a bit complicated, but if you master it the rewards are significant.
Relaxing in a 5 star Hyatt in Koh Samui
Let's go back to that miles and points game. See post:
How can I manufacture enough for that trip and make money? Remember I stated in an earlier post I generate miles and points in three ways?
At a small cost
At a negative cost meaning I make money buying the gift cards
I stated that some would say, "why pay a fee for the cards if you can not pay a fee or even buy at a negative cost?"
My answer was because I can't generate enough points/miles by one method alone to satisfy my travel habits. But if I changed my habits it would be possible to take two international trips each year, not only for free, but by putting money in my pocket. Let's look at the numbers.
There is one point currency that is very valuable. More than most. It's Ultimate Reward points from Chase bank. These points can be transferred to Aeroplan to use on the Star Alliance fleet. I love those miles!
Also these points can be transferred to Hyatt to use at their hotels. Hyatt has some excellent properties. It's my favorite chain.
Ultimate Reward points can be generated at a negative cost (profit). I have several Ink Bold cards in my possession. Enough to generate one million points per year.
Now let's look at how many points I need for 2 nice vacations in a place like Bangkok, Thailand. From Part 6, we saw that a month at the Hyatt Regency in Bangkok, a very nice hotel that goes for $200 per night (high for Bangkok), the cost in Hyatt points would be 240,000 points. Ultimate Rewards transfer to Hyatt on a 1:1 basis. So for 2 separate month long vacations there the total is 480,000 Ultimate Reward points.
Now let's look at the flight. For an estimated 200,000 Aeroplan miles (can actually do for 175,000 but I'll round up) I can fly business class to Bangkok. Ultimate Rewards transfer to that program at 1:1 as well, or even better. Currently they're offering a 20% transfer bonus, so even less points are required. But let's go with 200,000 per round trip. That's a total of 400,000 Ultimate Reward points for two round trip business class tickets.
The total for hotels and flights for these two great vacations is 880,000 Ultimate Reward points. How much does it cost to generate this amount of points? Chase Ink cards get 5x the points at Office Supply stores. Once per month Office Depot has a sale on Visa Everywhere gift cards. The sale is buy $300 worth and get $15 off. This can be done twice per visit. I buy 3 two hundred dollar gift cards for $5 fee per card, so $15 cost per $600 of gift cards. But I get $15 x 2= $30 off each visit. I make $15 profit for every $600 I buy. Doesn't sound like much until you scale it.
How much profit is that if I were to generate all my points using this method? Let's do the math: I get 5 points per dollar spent, so to generate 880,000 points for these trips I need to spend 880,000/5=$176,000 for gift cards. I make $15 for every $600 in gift cards I buy. So my potential profit is ($176,000/$600) * $15= $4,400 for the points required for these two trips, or $2,200 per trip.
Don't worry if the math is confusing. I'm good at arithmetic. The math is right. It's possible for me to take two round trip business class airfare trips to Bangkok and stay at the Hyatt Regency for a month each time and put nearly $4,400 in my pocket.
It wouldn't quite be $4,400 because there is a cost to buy the money orders to liquidate. The cost for me is $1 per $400 or $176,000/$400 *$1=$440 for these two trips. I also need to subtract the airline fees of about $100 per trip or $200 total. That brings my actual profit to $4,400 - $440 - &200 = $3,760. Not bad!
But what about the other expenses like local transportation, meals, attractions, and gifts? I don't need to spend anything on these categories other than maybe a $12 cab fare each way from the airport to the hotel. That's chump change from the $3,760 I could generate.
As for meals, my Globalist status allows me free breakfast and club lounge privileges. I can eat all my meals for free at the hotel if I want. But street food is cheap so I'll splurge with my extra cash,
If I made this a staycation I would not spend on attractions or any local transportation other than airport cab fare. As for gifts, no need to buy any!
So you can see how I can take two international month long trips to Bangkok for not only free, but putting $3,760 in my pocket! Of course I could elect to use some of those profits for exploring and gifts if I please. I would still have a good profit leftover.
I know all the math can be confusing. But bottom line is if I only generated Ultimate Reward points through the monthly sales of visa Everyday gift cards at Office Depot, I could take those two international month long trips and put nearly $4,000 in my pocket. Sound too good? It's doable but difficult. It would take about 24 trips to office depots each of those 12 weeks per year to accomplish it. Hard, but doable if you have access to multiple Office Depots like I have.
Now I will mention the fees of these gift cards are changing. I'm still able to purchase these gift cards at $5 fee, but many are increasing to $6. Not good but it will still allow for free travel and put thousands in my pocket.
If you have the time, inclination to travel, and access to the right stores, this is a fun game (for me anyway) that can take you all over the world in style.
Tomorrow I will add one more piece to this. Maybe you're not into travel. I'll show you how you can buy your next car for free.
Go to part 9: