cartwheel target app

How to Use Cartwheel in the Target App

 

Disclosure: This site may receive commissions for products and services purchased through affiliate links in this post.

 What is Cartwheel?

Cartwheel is a program designed exclusively for use at Target stores. In a nutshell it allows users to redeem additional discounts on in store products that otherwise would not be offered. Previously it was offered through its own app, but now the program has been fully integrated into the normal Target store app. The app is available on both iOS and Android devices. Cartwheel can also be managed online on your home computer. It is both free to download and use. Cartwheel is an essential part of a comprehensive Target couponing strategy (read more about that here). For the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on how to use Cartwheel in the updated Target store app. To learn how to use Cartwheel online, the instructions in this post have not changed.

Getting Started

cartwheel target app

Cartwheel sign in/sign up

Getting started is easy. Users can either download the Target store app to their iOS or Android phones, or sign up right online at this link. You can now only sign in with your existing Target login or create a new account (previously you could also use a facebook or google login). To sign in on the app, simply tap the sign in icon on the bottom menu and then tap “sign in” in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Or you may tap the barcode icon on the bottom menu and sign in from there. Once you are completely signed up through either the app or online, your account can be accessed through either medium. If a change is made in one place, it will automatically be updated in the other. In other words you can freely interchange between the app and online.

Adding Offers

cartwheel target app

Target app home screen

cartwheel target app

Cartwheel offer categories

Cartwheel has a variety of “offers” available for users to add to their account. The offers range from nearly every department in store and typically start at 5% off and will go up to about 50% off, though sometimes they will be even higher discounts. To view Cartwheel offers, tap “cartwheel by category” on the home screen of the Target store app. The offers will be sorted by different departments. Tapping on any of the department options will bring up all the offers which you may browse.

 

cartwheel target app

Cartwheel offer search

If you would like to search for specific offers, you may tap the magnifying glass icon in the upper right hand corner of the categories page. Make sure the “cartwheel” search option is highlighted and type in your desired search. You may also search by tapping the magnifying glass at the top of the home screen on the app and searching in the same manner.

Previously users were limited to the number of offers they could add to their account based on completing badges. That feature is no longer active and all users may add up to 50 offers on their account at a time.

cartwheel target app

List of available offers

Once you determine the offer/s you want to add, simply tap the plus sign on the offer to add it to your account. Once added, offers can be removed by tapping the check mark on the offer. Do note that offers do expire and the expiration can be clearly seen by tapping on the offer itself.

cartwheel target app

Specific offer details

Cartwheel offers typically can only be used for purchases in store unless the offer explicitly states it can be used for online purchases. One Cartwheel offer can be combined and used in conjuction with a manufacturer coupon and Target store coupon per item (along with any gift card deals and REDcard (read more about REDcard here) on the entire transaction). A single Cartwheel offer can be used on up to 4 qualifying items per transaction. Some offers are actual manufacturer dollar off coupons and can only be used once period – the offer will explicitly state this.

Viewing Your Offers

cartwheel target app

List of saved offers

Once you have your offers added, you can easily view all of your offers. Simply tap the “list” icon in the bottom menu and select the “cartwheel offers” option. All of the offers you have added that are currently active will be shown. Any offers you no longer want can easily be removed by tapping the X. At the top of this screen, it will also show you how many offers you currently have saved and how many offers you may still add to your account.

Checking Out

cartwheel target app

Personal cartwheel barcode

Once you have all your offers added and are ready to check out, you redeem them with a unique barcode. The barcode can be obtained by tapping the “barcode” icon in the bottom menu. Your barcode will appear and can be scanned during checkout straight from the app. You also have the ability to scan your barcode at the self checkouts. Do note that only 1 cartwheel barcode may be scanned per transaction and you are limited to only 6 transactions per day with cartwheel barcode scans. You can also view your current offers by tapping “view my offers” in the upper right hand corner of the screen. In addition it shows the number of offers you currently have saved.

cartwheel target app

available store coupons

You might also notice that the barcode tab shows available store coupons at the bottom of the screen. These coupons can be scanned separately and redeemed within the same transaction. To gain access to these coupon’s barcode, simply swipe up to view the first coupon and swipe left to view any additional coupon offers. Do note that your unique user barcode and each coupon barcode must be scanned separately – the store coupons are not automatically added to your unique user barcode.

Other Fun Features

cartwheel target app

scanning tool

One of the best features I feel the app provides is the scanning tool. This tool allows you to scan any item barcode while in the store. It will then display the item and its current in store price as well as any available cartwheel offers for that item (which you can then tap and immediately add to your account for use at checkout). If there are no available cartwheel offers, it will say so and also show available offers for similar products. This is great for impromptu in store shopping.

cartwheel target app

suggested similar offers

You can access the barcode scanner by tapping the barcode picture on the top of the home screen. It is also available through the search options by tapping “scan a barcode” at the bottom of the search screen. In addition it can also be accessed by tapping the barcode picture at the top right on the “list” screen.

To learn more about the ways to coupon at Target, visit this post. Plus, be sure to view this post on the 5 best features of the Cartwheel app which are still applicable to the now integrated program.

 

 cartwheel target app

 

 

 

save on toms shoes

8 Ways to Save on TOMS Shoes

 

Disclosure: This site may receive commissions for products and services purchased through affiliate links in this post.

If you are like me, you love TOMS. In fact you love them so much that you own no less than a dozen pairs and wear them everyday (including at your wedding). But TOMS can be expensive, blah. Some might say that’s the price we pay for cuteness. But being the money savvy person I am, I refuse to accept that. Here are 8 ways to save on TOMS shoes.

save on toms shoes

1. Join Passport Rewards

Did you know TOMS has a loyalty program? Their Passport Rewards program is free to join online and allows you to earn “stamps” from your purchases. They award 1 stamp per every dollar you spend on the TOMS website. Not only that, but you can earn additional stamps through various social media activities (such as following them on Twitter), and even just opening and reading their marketing emails. Stamps can be redeemed for rewards such as classic TOMS shoes or discounts like 10% or 25% off your order. Not only that, but by being a member they will normally send you a welcome email with a discount code, emails for your birthday with a discount code, and promotional emails letting you know of current sales.

2. Sign Up For Their Email List

TOMS many times will send you a discount code (usually 10% off) just for signing up for their email list. Plus, you will periodically receive emails letting you know of current sales and promotions.

3. Refer a Friend

TOMS will allow you to earn credits towards your future purchases by referring a friend. For every friend you refer that is a new customer you can earn a $20 credit, plus your friend will earn a discount code to use on their purchase by redeeming your referral. And if you have never purchased on TOMS website before and are looking for an easy discount code, you can click on my referral link here.

4. Utilize Free Shipping Codes

We all know the cost of shipping can add a hefty cost to your total. But luckily, TOMS typically will offer free shipping promotions. These promotions usually come in the form of free shipping after meeting a spend threshold of $65+, but sometimes they offer free shipping on every order!

5. Clearance Styles

Just like any other store, TOMS will clearance out some of their styles. The best sale items come at the end of the season when they are moving out stock. And it usually helps to wear an odd size (such as very large or very small sizes), but it you find something, there are savings to be had. Do note that you typically cannot use discount codes towards sale or clearance items.

6. TOMS Warehouse Sale

TOMS periodically puts on their Warehouse Sale events in major cities. At these events they discount their items up to 70% off! You can expect to find off season styles here (for example winter styles from the previous season being sold at summer events). My favorite are the deals on winter boots. I paid $35 for a new pair of wedges normally costing about $89. You can see what events are coming up here, and sign up for their email list to notify you when an event is coming to your area.

7. Shop On Amazon

By shopping on Amazon you can typically find discounted TOMS shoes along with everything else. Prices and styles will vary, but it’s always worth it to take a look.

8. Rebates and Coupon Codes

Last but not least, you can always attempt to save a few extra bucks by shopping TOMS through a rebate site such as Ebates. Currently, at the time of writing, Ebates is offering 4% cashback on TOMS. (You can learn more about Ebates in this post). Also, as a last ditch effort try using SaveHoney to find any additional coupon codes you can apply at checkout. (You can learn more about SaveHoney here).

 

save on toms shoes

 

coupon for diapers

6 Best Places to Coupon for Diapers

 

Disclosure: This site may receive commissions for products and services purchased through affiliate links in this post

Of all the baby expenses out there, diapers are most definitely the most prominent. And unless you’re using cloth diapers (I say more power to you!) then you are always going out and buying diapers and praying for the day your child is potty trained. And we all know diapers are not cheap either. But what can we do? We gotta buy those suckers. Luckily with couponing we can effectively cut those diaper costs in half! (We can also save for baby in other ways in this post.) Here are the 6 best places to coupon for diapers (in no particular order).

coupon for diapers

Target

Target can be a great place to coupon for diapers. They frequently run gift card deals in their weekly ad on big boxes of the major brands of diapers like Huggies, Pampers, and Luvs nearly every week. Plus, they are known to throw in some of their Up & Up brand and even Honest Company every now and again. They also will frequently include store coupons that will get you gift cards for spending thresholds on baby items. Use these deals on top of any manufacturer coupons, cartwheel deals, and REDcard (just another reason why you need REDcard).  And on the cartwheel note, their perks frequently include redemptions for diapers or wipes (learn more about cartwheel here and here). To learn more about couponing at Target visit this post.

CVS

CVS is another store that frequently runs promotions on baby items. These include jumbo packs of the major brands Huggies and Pampers. By stacking manufacturer coupons, store coupons, and Extrabucks, you can significantly reduce your diaper costs. You can learn more about the ins and outs of CVS couponing here.

Walmart

I know, no one likes shopping at Walmart, but we can’t ignore the fact that they offer some of the lowest prices around, even on baby items. Use manufacturer coupons on the major brands, as well as price matching and their Saving Catcher App to make sure you’re always getting the lowest price. Read here for more tips about couponing at Walmart.

Rite Aid

Rite Aid will frequently run promotions on their baby items making it easy to get cheap jumbo packs of Pampers, Huggies, or their Tugaboos store brand. Of course use manufacturer coupons, store coupons, and Plenti points to score these great deals. Read more about Rite Aid couponing in this post.

Walgreens

Walgreens is yet another pharmacy that offers great diaper deals. Stack manufacturer coupons, store coupons, balance rewards points, and register rewards on jumbo packs of Huggies and Pampers. Plus they offer great deals on a variety of other baby essentials. See this post for more on couponing at Walgreens.

Amazon

For the online shopper, Amazon is THE place for diapers. Members of Amazon Prime can enroll in Amazon Family for free. This essentially saves you 20% on any diaper subscription offered through Amazon Subscribe & Save. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that online. And if you don’t have a Prime membership you can still take advantage of the low online prices Amazon offers (psst, family members can give you the gift of Prime). To learn more about Amazon Prime and Subscribe & Save read here and here.


And for more help on finding the best baby deals every week, I highly recommend checking out thekrazycouponlady.com‘s up to date baby deals here which includes a weekly baby supplies roundup.

 

coupon for diapers

 

coupon at walgreens

How to Coupon at Walgreens

 

Today I’m rounding out my series on the big 5 couponing stores with a post on Walgreens. (Click on the links for previous posts on Target, CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid.) Now, I admit, I don’t coupon here much at all. This is really just a personal preference though. Many people have found great success in couponing and finding deals at their local Walgreens. And it may be that it’s just convenient for you. Overall, I’d say couponing at Walgreens is similar to couponing at CVS, but there are a few more rules to follow. Without further ado, here’s how to coupon at Walgreens.

Balance Rewards Card

coupon at walgreens

First things first, you will need a Balance Rewards Card. You can sign up for this online or in store. Being enrolled in this program is the only way to get sale prices and earn rewards. Customers can earn rewards on items they buy including prescriptions and photos. Here’s a breakdown of how to earn points:

  • Earn 10 everyday points per every $1 spent on most items. You must add this perk to your Walgreens balance rewards summary online (or in the app). Once added you do not have to add it again.
  • Earn 100 points per 30 day supply prescription picked up in store (or 300 points per 90 day prescription).
  • Earn 100 points per immunization received at the store.
  • Earn extra bonus points on select in ad promotions each week. An example might be 8000 points on the purchase of two shampoos.
  • Add additional members only perks in your account summary. An example might include 5x points on $10 spent. These perks differ weekly and must be individually activated each week.
  • Redeem points booster coupons from the weekly ad. These coupons are similar to the members only perks online.
  • Sign up for free to become a Beauty Enthusiast and earn 5000 points per $50 spent on beauty products. Plus receive a digital coupon for 20x everyday points when you sign up.
  • Earn points by working out! Sign up for the free Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earn 20 points for every mile you walk, run, or cycle with your activity tracker. Read my post about this program here.

When you have earned 5000 points, you can then redeem them for a $5 reward at the register. But you can save them up for better redemptions if you choose. Points can be redeemed for rewards as below:

  • 5000 points = $5
  • 10000 points = $10
  • 18000 points = $20
  • 30000 points = $25
  • 40000 points = $50

As long as you use your balance rewards card at least once every 6 months, your Balance Rewards points will not expire for 3 years! Points also post to your account instantly. This means that you can potentially roll points from transaction to transaction. Most of the time you can use points and earn points in the same transaction. For instance, if the promotion includes purchases a specific number of products, like Buy 2 Get 1000 points, you should have no problem. However, it gets tricky when the promotion involves a dollar threshold, like Spend $12 Get 5000 points. In this case you have to spend more than the threshold amount in order to use points on that transaction.

Plus, there is no limit to the amount of points that you earn, so you can stock up on items and receive points for every item. As a quick tip, everyday points will be earned on the total amount before manufacturer coupons, but after Walgreens store coupons are applied.

ManufactuRer Coupons

Walgreens will accept both online and circular manufacturer coupons. 1 manufacturer coupon may be used per item. They do not state a limit of the amount of identical coupons that can be used in the same transaction (though be aware your coupon might). It is also important to know that Walgreens will only accept 1 manufacturer coupon on Buy 1 Get 1 Free promotions. This means you cannot use a coupon on the free item in the promotion, but you can on the purchased item. Also, Walgreens will not accept manufacturer coupons that exceed the price of the item. For example you cannot use a $3 off coupon on an item that costs $2.99. They won’t even adjust the coupon down to prevent overage, so don’t even bother.

Store Coupons

coupon at walgreens

Load-to-Card Coupons in the Walgreens app

Walgreens offers a variety of different types of store coupons. Per their coupon policy 1 store coupon may be used per item (in addition to a manufacturer coupon) unless it’s a Buy 1 Get 1 Free promotion like above. Store coupons you might find include:

  • Coupons printed in the weekly ad – these coupons carry a limit of usually 2-4 items, meaning you can use the same coupon on up to the stated limit.
  • Monthy Savings Book Coupons – each month Walgreens will put out a savings booklet available at the front of the store. These coupons do not have a threshold, so you can use the same coupon on unlimited amount of items – it only needs to be scanned once. Plus, you do not have to meeting a item threshold, meaning if you have a coupon for $1 off 4, you can still use the coupon on 1 item and get $.25 off.
  •  Health Booklet Coupons – these are typically found near the health and pharmacy sections and coupons are usually good for up to 1 year.
  • Load-to-Card Coupons – the Walgreens app includes many of the weekly ad and monthly savings book coupons as well as some manufacturer coupons. These can be loaded to your balance rewards card and automatically deducted at the register. You can load up to 100 coupons at a time.
  • Catalina Coupons – these vary by day and person, but typically can be used on your next transaction.

Register Rewards

coupon at walgreens

A sample Register Reward

Finally, there are Register Rewards. These are store credit like coupons that are printed on your receipt and can be used on your next transaction. Promotions for Register Rewards are typically advertised in ad and store. An example might include receive $1 Register Reward with the purchase of 1 body wash. Register Rewards will typically expire in 2 weeks from the printed date.

Only 1 Register Reward can be earned per promotion per transaction. Meaning you can earn the same reward on a 2nd transaction, but not earn 2 within the same transaction. Do be aware though that the rewards will not roll from transaction to transaction. This means you cannot earn a Register Reward  on a promotion in the 1st transaction, use it on a 2nd transaction for the same promotion and expect to get the Register Reward again. In most cases it is better to save your Register Rewards and roll them from trip to trip.

Register Rewards can be used in combination with manufacturer coupons, store coupons, and Balance Rewards Points. Be aware though that the register will identify a Register Reward as a manufacturer coupon. And according to Walgreens policy you must have a matching item for each coupon. This means you cannot purchase 4 items and use 4 manufacturer coupons plus a Register Reward – the register will beep and not accept all of them. Luckily you can combat this by buy a filler item. A filler item is basically any cheap item, ideally $1 or less that the register can tie with your Register Reward.

Walgreens Stacking Example

coupon at walgreens

In the above example, purchasing 2 Children’s Zyrtec will yield 5000 Balance Rewards Points. Combine that with 2 x $4/1 Zyrtec coupons from coupons.com. Rolling 5000 Balance Rewards Points from previous trips will make this $4.49 each. And if you have a Register Reward, you can purchase a filler item and get even more savings.

Walgreens Coupon Policy and Other Information

It is important to know a store’s coupon policy. You can view Walgreens’ policy here. I highly recommend that you visit the Walgreens page at KCL to get an even more in-depth view about couponing at Walgreens. They even have a comprehensive list of current Monthly Savings book coupons here and Filler Items here.

 

coupon at walgreens

 

 

free travel

A Couponer’s Guide to Free Travel

 

These opinions are all my own. I am not receiving any compensation for the products or ideas in this post.

Being a couponing advocate I’m always looking for ways to save on the things I need. But what about saving on the things I like? Well, admittedly there are a lot of ways to save on my favorite clothes and retailers. But I struggled on saving really effectively on my travel plans. Last year my husband and I went on an Alaskan cruise, and I did everything possible to save money on that trip (You can read about that here.) But we still paid a large chunk of change.

I felt there had to be a better and easier way. Especially since I don’t plan on giving up travel anytime soon. And if I agree with Positive Health Wellness’s article that says traveling can be good for your health, this makes travel a “need,” right? So it was time to find a solution. This started me on my path to discover all the secrets of what the travel pros call “travel hacking.” Not gonna lie, it’s my new obsession, but it’s a lot easier than people realize. I only wish I knew about it sooner. Read on for a couponer’s guide to free travel.

What Is Travel Hacking?

In a nutshell, travel hacking is the art of earning points and miles through credit card spending and redeeming them for FREE TRAVEL. Yes, I said free. Or at the very least, significantly less expensive. And while earning points and miles through your normal credit card spending is great, it’s not nearly as lucrative and earning sign-up bonuses. The real trick that people play is by signing up for new credit cards that offer large sign-up bonuses by meeting a minimum spend typically within the first 90 days. These bonuses are typically much more than you can hope to earn with your normal spending within a year. So a combination of both of these techniques aids travelers in redeeming free travel.

free travel

I will also point out that many of what I would call “hard core” travel hackers constantly sign up for new cards and utilize a method called “manufactured spending” to not only help them meet all the minimum spends, but also to constantly “churn” miles and points on their existing cards in order to have an unlimited supply. This is all well and good, but completely unnecessary for the normal family. I mean, if you’re a working person, it’s unlikely you even have the vacation time to really take advantage of all this free travel. Overall I do not recommend most methods of manufactured spending as they are getting harder and harder to even pull off. However, if you are interested in understanding what manufactured spending is read here.

Overall, if all you’re wanting to do is take your family on one or two trips per year, “hard core” travel hacking is completely unnecessary. All it takes is some upfront planning on your part to determine the trip you want to take and the credit card sign-ups you’ll need to make it necessary. And then earning those sign-ups by applying for the cards in increments (not all at one time or you’ll have a large amount of spending to meet) and meeting minimum spends with your NORMAL spending on bills, groceries, gas, etc.

A Note on Credit Cards

Before I move on with more specifics, first let me give a side notes about credit cards:

  • I DO NOT RECOMMEND under any circumstances to apply for credit cards if you cannot responsibly manage your finances and pay off your balance every month. Carrying a balance is never a good idea and essentially defeats the purpose. That travel isn’t free anymore when you are paying high interest rates on your balance.
  • Avoid applying for credit cards within the same time frame as applying for a loan such as a mortgage.
  • It’s always a good idea to know what your credit score is. Many banks these days such as Chase and Bank of America provide their customers with their free FICO credit scores. Another alternative is to check out the free Credit Karma service.
  • If your credit score is not currently high enough to be approved for new cards due to lack of credit history, consider asking a willing family member with a higher credit score and longer history to add you as an authorized user to their own account (even if you don’t use it). This will help raise your own score.
  • Contrary to popular belief, applying for and owning several credit cards does not  hurt your credit score in the long term, and in fact can actually help raise it (I can testify personally to this). You can read more about how this affects your score here.
  • Closing credit card accounts CAN affect your credit score. Read here and here about how to minimize these effects. It is also recommended to keep your longest standing credit card accounts open to help increase your average age of credit.
  • If you own a small business, you can also apply for the business versions of credit cards in addition to the personal versions.Read more about that here.

Getting Started Earning Free TraVel

First off, when getting started, I would recommend setting a travel goal. This will help you to know how many points and miles you will need in order to accomplish this particular travel plan. Even if you don’t have a travel goal in mind, you can still get started earning points with some of the more basic and flexible travel cards and apply those to a future travel goal.

free travel

My husband and I redeemed FREE flights to Mardi Gras this year through just 1 credit card bonus, with points to spare. This is us with all our loot from the parades.

In either case make sure to sign up for the airline and hotel loyalty programs you anticipate using, especially if you are earning specific hotel or airline miles with your credit card. Always make sure you sign up for the appropriate loyalty program before you start trying to earn any points for it. Many times you will have to link your member number to the credit card in order to earn or transfer miles/points.

The next step is to start earning points and/or miles. You can earn miles in one of several ways as below:

1. Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

The most lucrative way to earn points and miles is through credit card sign ups. Most of the time these sign ups are more points than you could hope to earn normally in a year.

 

There are several types of travel credit cards that you can get started with. First there are flexible travel rewards cards that earn points through the banks earning program that can be redeemed for a variety of ways including on discounted travel through the program’s own unique portal. There are also cash back type cards that can be redeemed for statement credits on your travel purchases (or depending on the card, any kind of purchase). And finally, there are co-branded credit cards which earn points or miles towards a specific travel loyalty program such as hotel brands or airlines. You can read here about some of the better cards for beginners to start out with.

Do be aware that many times these cards carry an annual fee (not always), but sometimes the fee is waived the first year or the benefits of the card and sign up bonus far outweigh the fee. Also, several banks now have restrictions regarding earning the same sign-up bonuses more than once. For instance, AMEX only allows 1 sign-up bonus per card per person per lifetime. Chase on the other hand will allow the same bonus on the same card per person 24 months after the first bonus was received. Read here to learn about the major banks restrictions on credit cards.

free travel

Personally, I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It is one of the most flexible travel rewards cards out there, and it is the one my husband and I started with. It is great in that when you redeem your points through their travel portal you can redeem at a rate of 1:1.25, meaning an extra 25%. Plus the card comes with great transfer partners at a rate of 1:1 that include Southwest Airlines, United, Hyatt, Marriott, and more. The icing on the cake here is that with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you can transfer points across any Ultimate Rewards earning credit cards you have. This means that is you have the Chase Freedom and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can transfer points between the two (and you can even transfer between spouses).

2. Normal Spending

You can always earn points through your normal spending habits. Any card that you have will typically give you at least 1 point per dollar on any purchase. There are far more lucrative ways to earn than with just 1 point per dollar, however normal spending is still lucrative when meeting minimum spends. In this case it is recommended to put every single bill possible on your credit card to meet the minimum spending requirement. Unfortunately rent and mortgages, which tend to be your highest spending per month, cannot be paid with credit cards. If you are desperate, however, there are a few online rent paying services available such as Plastiq and Rentler (see details here) that will allow you to pay with a credit card along with a 3% fee. Under normal circumstances the fee just isn’t worth it, but could be considered a small price to pay in earning a large sign up bonus.

3. maximizing Point Earnings

You can earn more points and miles just by simply maximizing your earnings. For instance, say you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Freedom Unlimited cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred allows you to earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on everything else. The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns you 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase. In this scenario you can maximize your points by only using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card on your travel and dining purchases to effectively earn 2 points per dollar, and then use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card on every thing else to effectively earn 1.5 points per dollar. Thus, you are earning points 1.5 – 2 times faster on every purchase you make. Plus being Chase Ultimate Rewards you can then pool these points together.

4. Bonus Points Through Portals

Many times each of these credit cards or loyalty programs offer some type of shopping portal that allow you to earn even more points. For instance, say you want to purchase something online at Best Buy (or purchase online and have it shipped free to the store). You may go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal and see that they are offering 3 points per dollar at Best Buy by clicking through the portal and then making your purchase. You end up spending $50 and paying with your Chase Unlimited Freedom card to earn 1.5 points per dollar. So in essence you just earned 4.5 points per dollar, or in this case a total of 225 points instead of just 50 points.

If you are a member of several different programs, I highly recommend evreward as a way to see which portal will pay out the most. For instance they will show Chase, Amex, and Citi programs, as well as hotel and airline programs such as Southwest and Hilton. Be aware that it lags a little and so is not always up to date accurate, but it at least will give you an idea and place to start.

5. Bonus Points Through Dining Programs

Several airlines and hotel chains will offer a dining program where you can link your credit card and earn extra points by dining at certain restaurants available in the program. These programs are typically free and can be found right on the airline or hotel website. Most of the time you cannot link the same credit card to more than one dining program, however you can link separate cards. But if you plan on participating it is recommended to link the card(s) with the best bonuses for dining.

I personally find the selection of restaurants in these programs to be minimal, but considering it’s a free program, it never hurts to link your card and find a few extra points later for dining at one of the participating restaurants.

What Next?

Well once you’ve earned the travel points/miles, you can then redeem those towards the travel of your choice. Like I’ve mentioned several times already, your best bet for earning the most points is by applying for new credit cards that will award you large sign-up bonuses.

free travel

Let’s give a more specific example of how this can work. Say you live in Dallas and want to take your family of 4 on a 5 night trip to Disney World in Orlando in the month of June of the next year. Firstly, I would recommend signing up for the Southwest Personal Plus card which currently is offering a bonus of 50,000 miles with a $69 yearly fee. The flights would cost about $150 per person each way for a total of $1200. OR it would cost about 8300 points per person each way. Essentially the miles you just earned from the bonus would allow you to get 3 free roundtrip flights while paying only for the last family member and the taxes not covered by the miles (usually about $6/person each way) for a total of 49,800 miles and $348, plus the $69 fee.

If you’re willing, you could also apply for the Southwest Personal Premier card a couple of months later, also currently offering a bonus of 50,000 miles with a $99 yearly fee. This would allow your entire family to fly for only the cost of 66,400 miles plus about $48 in taxes and $168 yearly fees. And if you’re really smart, after meeting the minimum spends of a total of $5000 and then stragetically spending another $5000 on the cards, you’d have earned 110,000 miles, enough to earn you a Southwest Companion Pass (essentially a buy one get one free on Southwest flights). Thus you would get all 4 roundtrip flights for 49,800 miles plus $48 for taxes and $168 yearly fees. Plus, you’d have 60,200 miles left over to use in the future as well as the Companion Pass to be able to utilize until the end of the next year you earned it (learn more about earning the Companion Pass here). Not only that, but being able to fly on southwest gives you the ability to check 2 free bags per person (especially useful for families with small children), and has no change fees, meaning that if you find a lower price later, you can re-book and be refunded the difference in points!

Now, you’ve already saved at least $800 on flights, but what next? Well, then yo’d need to find a place to stay for 5 nights, right? Well, say you want to stay off-resort. The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel is right in the middle of Orlando with shuttles to and from the Disney parks. Rates at the hotel go for about $250 or 15,000 points per night for a total of about  $1250 or 75,000 points for 5 nights. Well, by applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a current sign up bonus of 50,000 points with a $99 fee waived the first year, you can effectively transfer 45,000 points to Hyatt to get 3 free nights plus $500, and have 5000 points to spare.

And if you’re willing to go even further, a little while later you could apply for the Chase Hyatt credit card with a bonus of 2 free nights and a $75 yearly fee. This would essentially get you those last 2 nights free. Plus the card comes with elite status that includes complimentary wi-fi, late check-out, and an upgrade to a preferred room when available. Either way, you would be saving at least $750 on the hotel. That plus the at least $800 on the flights save you a good $1550 which is about 60% of the original cost! And if you go all the way on both flights and hotel, you’d save $2150 or about 88%. That’s no small chunk of change. And with this savings, you can better afford the high-cost of Disney park tickets (which are NEVER on sale).

Good Luck

Good luck to you all in your endeavors to earn free travel. If you are interested in learning more in-depth about the in and outs of travel hacking, credit card bonuses, and airline and hotel programs, I highly recommend The Points Guy. You can get started on his sight here.

 

free travel