[Here’s another Noobtraveler success story! If you would like to submit a Noob testimonial, email me at geoff@noobtraveler. Get ya some!]
First off, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Jacquie and I am 35 years old. I am a teacher and am married to an awesome guy who is a youth pastor. We have a beautiful little girl, Sophie, who just turned 6.
Due to our occupations, we live rather modestly but love to have fun and really enjoy our family time! One thing I have always been is a “frugal gal.” I love to get a deal and see how far I can stretch my dollar. It makes my eyes twinkle. Haha! Now my husband, on the other hand, would much rather blow all the money and live a full life than penny-pinch like me. We joke that if I was alone I’d be rich and do nothing with it, and if he was alone, he’d be living out of his car because he’d spend all of his money vacationing and livin’ the good life. So you can see we have a mixture of two worlds.
Less than a year ago, a friend of ours told us of the Southwest card offering 50K points. So, being the penny-pincher I am, I signed myself up for two (regular card and a business one) for both my husband and me. Then I learned of the Companion Pass. So, I went for it and signed up for an ADDITIONAL Southwest card (without realizing how potentially dumb that could be getting three in a two month time span), and the Visa Signature (black colored card) so I would instantly have my Companion Pass. To get this third card, I had to make the reconsideration call. When I googled how to handle the whole reconsideration call, is when I found Geoff (enter angels singing!). Then, I entered a whole new world! I learned how to successfully complete the reconsideration call and scored 150,000 points for me and 100,000 for the hubs. YES! So we went to Disney. Gotta celebrate, right?
Once all the Southwest hype simmered down, I got the itch for more. I realized I wanted to keep traveling for FREE. So, my first app party was about getting some great hotel rewards and even more flight points. I learned from Geoff all about the, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, and the Citi AA cards. From these cards, we recently went to Chicago for free for the weekend because of the freebies given from these two credit cards (whenever I get a card, the hub’s gets one so we double dip!). We haven’t even used any actual Marriott points from either of these cards. We just used the additional free certificate nights. SCORE!
So what’s next? Where are we going with all of the points we have banked? Well… eventually to Italy or France. But I don’t want that kind of trip over Spring break. For now though, we are starting small. This Spring break we are using our 100,000 Marriott points and are staying a week in Miami. Our flights are actually not through Southwest, but instead from American Airlines because we both earned 100,000 points using the double browser trick with Citi bank (thanks Geoff!). Our family of 3 is flying from a small town airport in IL to Miami for less than 100,000 points. That means we still have 100,000 points on my hubby’s Citi cards (plus a nice bank of Southwest points). So yes our airfare and hotel stay will be free. But I am kind of greedy… so I wanted some spa time for free too at the Marriott. Therefore, during my last app party, I signed up for an Amex card so I could get 50,000 points. With this, I “bought” $400 in giftcards to spend at the spa, restaurant, and bar. I am stoked!
Geoff has opened me up to a whole new world. But how is this effecting my scores? My sanity? My marriage? When I started, my credit score was 801. I did dip down in the 770s but it is going back up. As long as I am in the range of 760+, I am comfortable with this. Every 3 months, I am doing an app party and apply for about 4 cards. I have found that is about all I can handle, so we can meet the spending limits.
One thing I have learned, that is SO important, is to keep log/track of all of my login info for all of the credit cards and reward systems. This includes my spending limits, and time requirements. Having this all mapped out makes life so much easier. I didn’t do this the first app party, and it was a nightmare to manage all of the logins and such. Now I know better. Haha. PLEASE learn from my mistake and keep yourself organized! I also had no idea how addicting (in a good way) this would all be. At Christmas time, I really wanted a new handbag. I don’t mean any bag… I mean.. a REAL one. You know one that rhymes with Pucci. My husband was even shocked I would even entertain the idea being the penny-pincher I am. Well, I hunted until I found a credit card reward that would nearly buy it for me. I found one that came with a $400 credit (they are no longer offering this, sorry! It was an NFL card) and I only had to spend $1000! SOLD! I also hit Saks on Black Friday and got a $1000 purse for $620. My credit made it $220 (the usual price I pay for purses). But this time, I had myself a REAL handbag. My husband thought I was nuts… but then he gladly spent his $400 NFL credit on a hunting bow. To each is own, right? We also bought a new dishwasher and a beautiful marble and glass backsplash for our kitchen… from REWARDS on various cards! :) Oh yea!!!!!!
So not all of you out there have to be world travelers to have fun with rewards. Would I love to be one some day? YES!! Of course! But I am very happy right now with our new life with freebies on a level I can handle. So what’s next? I have my eye on a Hilton credit card because I want to stay at the Chicago Waldorf for a weekend for free ($900+ stay). You’d better believe that card will be on my next app party list!
I cannot thank Geoff enough for adding such fun to my life through rewards. My husband and I thank you!
— Geoff Whitmore