My Almost-FREE Disney Vacation!- Part One, The Basics

Well, I really have my mother to thank for all of the information I have learned about vacationing for close to nothing! She had seen a spot on a TV show about how using credit card bonus points can pay for a family vacation with little to no cost!  Of course, she asked me if I already knew how to do that...and honestly, I had NO clue. So, my adventure began - and I'm hooked!

Now, before we begin jumping up and down at the thought of close to "free travel", I must say that this is NOT for everyone. Credit is a very important asset in one's life and it is not to be "played with" at any cost if you are not in control of your finances already! I think it is worth saying again: CREDIT IS A VERY IMPORTANT ASSET IN ONE'S LIFE AND IT IS NOT TO BE "PLAYED WITH" AT ANY COST IF YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES ALREADY!  That is my disclaimer because it is SO true!

With that being said, if you are STABLE in your finances, have EXCELLENT credit and a willingness to learn, there are many possibilities for frugal travel! I first started learning from my "buddy" Drew with my favorite blog  I read his blog for hours at a time and I think I caught on fairly quickly. He has been a tremendous help, so I will give him many props! :)

I am NOT by any means and expert, so I will not be giving out all the nitty-gritty details about my trip planning, but I will start you with some basics. I would direct you to Drew's blog to fill in the gaps!

Warning...side note about WHY we are going on two vacations in two months!)  So, basically, the first trip I am planning is to California for my daughter's national pageant. *GASP*, did I just say the "p" word? Yep. My 6-year-old is National American Miss NY for the Princess Division....and I am so proud!  Just some background: NAM pageants do NOT allow make-up or swimsuits to be worn for competitions! They also deduct points for clothing that is not age-appropriate. AND, just to be clear how it is not based on money, we did not sell ANY advertising! She did a Christian dance in the talent contest and won FIRST place! She also mentioned that "following Jesus" was important to her future during her introduction portion. And...she STILL won! :) So, we are off to Anaheim!  Then it is off to Florida for a family vacation 2 months later. ***OK, side note over***

So, you can see that I HAVE to be as frugal as I daughter only got $350 toward her travel cost...the rest is on us! :)

      **My "steal" last year - $1500 total for 4 for a 7-day cruise on Disney Fantasy, balcony!!!**

Here are some basics about the "credit card game":

Credit Card Offers -  Sometimes banks will get you to sign up for their credit cards by designing an "offer". You may see different "offers" for credit cards on TV or on the web, or in the mail.  Many (the kind we are interested in) will have wording such as "X amount of bonus points when you spend $X amount in 3 months."  Now, depending on whether these points are of value to you, it may be a good or not-so-good promotion.  These "bonus points" are generally in ADDITION to the points you would earn on the card for spending "X" amount.

Let's say that you have a cash-back card that gives you 1% back on all of your purchases. That's great. But, if you are interested in travel, you will see that some offers add up to WAY more than the 1% cash equivalent.  Here's my example:

       *A certain airline (when this post was written) is giving out 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2000 in three months. That is the equivalent of at least TWO round trip tickets to most anywhere in the US! ($69 yearly fee) So, if you spend $2000 in 3 months anyway, you may as well sign up for the card if it fits into your profile. (DISCLAIMER: DO NOT apply for cards unless you are sure of how it will impact you. There are many rules to follow and you can't sign up for whatever cards you want whenever you want. There are things you need to know about credit.) BUT, if you have excellent credit, have researched the ins and outs, and plan on traveling where this airline would go, then you can see the benefits!

       *Now, let's say you don't spend $2000 in 3 months. Well, there are other ways to "spend" that $2K without "spending". I can't teach it all, but I'll throw out random "along-the-lines-of" words: gift cards, bluebird, amazon. There are TONS of legal ways to "spend" the $2000 if you don't already do so.
So, if you used your 1% cash back card on your $2000 spend, you would get $20 back. OK. But if you spent that same $2000 on the airline card, you would get the BONUS 50,000 points PLUS the regular 2,000 points that you get just for spending on the card anyway! That's worth a bit more than $20, don't you think! ;) 

Hint: One round-trip ticket to Florida for just one of us was only around 13,000!!! It's possibly you could get a family of 4 there and back with just one card depending on when you fly!! :)

OK, so that may be enough to wet your whistle for now. If you are interested in learning more, check out some other blogs. I don't get any payment for mentioning Drew. He's just a good guy! :)

Stay tuned for more tips on how I am getting a great deal on our two vacations!!! God bless!

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