2020 Travel Hacking Review and Future Plans

Pam

Well, we survived 2020 and I am hopeful that 2021 will let all of us travel again. In that vein, I decided do a travel hacking review of what happened in 2020 and to write down my future travel plans for 2021. Fingers crossed, that they come true!

2020 Travel Hacking Review

I was lucky to get two travel hacking trips in before we got shut down and one trip when things eased a bit. My first trip in 2020 was with Alex to Maui. We used points for our flights and all of our hotels and stayed at rooms that went for $600+ using free night certificates.  You can read all about that trip here.

Ritz Carlton pool and grounds in Maui

Free nights at a Ritz Carlton are an amazing part of travel hacking!

In early February I squeezed a trip to Costa Rica with a friend, again using miles and points for most of my stay. My friend loved the benefits I got with my Marriott Platinum Elite status on my hotel card that gave us free breakfasts. She loves to travel with me and go to airport lounges too! It is so much fun to share the good life of travel hacking with others!

I snuck in a trip to Costa Rica just before COVID hit!

In November, when all things COVID seemed to get better for a short time, my sister, a friend, and I headed to Cancun to spend a week at a timeshare.  Travel had definitely changed due to the virus, but we still had a great time.

Despite COVID precautions, a trip to Mexico was a blast!

2020 Credit Cards Obtained

Most of 2020 was spent with me trying to get under Chase 5/24 for both myself and my husband. And I finally did it! (Cue my happy dance when that happened)! I couldn’t help having my husband apply for a couple of credit cards with great bonuses though. He applied for and got the American Express Green Credit Card.  I was able to get a discount on another Away suitcase (my favorite) with one of his bonuses. Additionally, he got the American Express Delta Platinum Card when a high bonus was offered.

We both finally received the coveted Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card this fall. Finally, we have Ultimate Rewards (cue another happy dance)! I am so happy to finally have the flexibility of transferable points.

I also applied for and got the points for the Capital One Venture Credit Card. It is a great card to use for some of those travel expenses like rental cars, Airbnb, and Disneyland tickets that you can’t normally use points for.

2020 Trips Cancelled

This is the sad part of my 2020 travel hacking review. I had to cancel the following trips d/t COVID:

  • Turks and Caicos
  • Kauai
  • Maui
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Mom/daughter trip to Barcelona/Morocco/Venice (this one hurt the most)
  • Machu Picchu
  • London to visit my daughter and family (this hurt a lot too)

The only good thing is all the points/miles I had planned to use have been credited back to my account.  I now have A LOT of points to hopefully spend in 2021! In fact, I have 3 million points!! And I have spent about 1.5 million points in the last two years. Travel hacking has let me travel the world for pennies on the dollar. Here is a post I did last year about my travel hacking experience. I heartily believe in always applying for a new credit card over and over again. I put normal spending on them to reach the minimum spend. Having a lot of points makes any travel possible for me.

Well, there’s my travel hacking review for 2020. but what are my future plans? I’m crossing my finger that 2021 will be much better!

2021  Future Travel Plans

Most of my 2021 Travel Plans revolve around completing some of the trips I had to cancel. We already have a trip rebooked to Turks and Caicos for March. We will use miles for our flights there but paid for the resort.

We have a trip to Kauai planned for April also to a timeshare we bought years before I heard about travel hacking We will use our Alaska Airlines Companion Fare to get there though. Here’s hoping Kauai opens up before April without all the requirements they have now!

We also plan to take 2 grandkids to Kona using our other Alaska Airlines Companion Fare. Again, we will use a timeshare we have.

Our Machu Picchu trip was rebooked for next October and we will definitely be booking business class seats to Peru using miles.

As soon as things open up to the UK, I will be booking a trip to London. My daughter and I are planning to go somewhere for a few days from there. Maybe Cyprus? Maybe somewhere in Italy?

My daughters and I hope to replan another big trip but Alex has a young baby so it won’t be as big as our mom/daughter’s Europe trip we had planned for 2020.

Additionally, I want to plan a trip somewhere I’ve never been. Scotland? Ireland? Bora Bora? With points and miles, I can dream big. I just hope things change and all (or most) of these plans come true!!

I’m hoping to finally get to Machu Picchu in 2021!

Credit Card Plans for 2021

I’ve already applied for the American Express Business Gold Card because I want more Membership Rewards. Did you know that you can use Membership Rewards for ANA (All Nippon Airways) and book an around the world ticket for under 150,000 miles in business class? This is on my travel hacking bucket list (maybe in 2022). There are other airlines you can do it with also but ANA is the cheapest.

This card is one that I’ll only keep for a year because of the annual fee of $295 which has almost zero perks. But it is a good deal to get the 60,000 Membership Rewards and I can easily get a couple thousand dollars value from them If I redeem for a business class seat.  I referred myself from my husband’s Amex Gold Card so I will get an additional 30K Membership Rewards. I was really surprised that the referral bonus was so high – it usually isn’t. I am 4/24 but because this card is a business card, it won’t count against my 5/24 status.

My husband has also applied for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card. It has a great bonus right now of 80,000 miles, which combined with a Chase Business Card, would make the Southwest Companion Pass a reality. He is now 4/24 so getting a business card for him will be our next step. He closed his previous Southwest credit card a couple of years ago so he was able to apply again.

For the rest of the year, I plan to concentrate on a couple more business cards. I want to keep those last spots on the Chase 5/24 for when a really good deal pops up.

Bottom Line

My travel hacking review of 2020 was actually not bad and my future plans look great. On paper. Here’s hoping they materialize. I hope you are taking this time to build up your points portfolio and I wish you a prosperous New Year full of fun travels!

Bora Bora

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