I said before that most families will not be getting card after card after card all year long, like I do. Everyone needs to find their own comfort level and stick to it. I wanted to put together a 2-card combo that would take care of a summer vacation for a family of four.
I also wanted to make sure that points post in May or early June if you apply for cards right now and mostly use your regular spending. Let’s assume you put around $2000 per month on cards like we do. So we can only work with $8000 (2000 x 4) if we have till the end of May. You could also buy a few Visa gift cards to make sure you get the points posted in time.
US Club Carlson Signature Visa. You get 85000 points after spending $2500 in 3 months. Annual fee is 75 dollars, not waived. I mentioned before that my top hotel card pick is Chase IHG Visa, mostly due to its Point Breaks program (new list now released). However, in this case, I would go with Club Carlson card, since we are planning way ahead and know the exact location of our trip.
Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa (or Plus version). Both come with 50000 points sign-up bonus after spending 2000 in 3 months. Premier version has a 99 dollar fee and comes with 6000 points upon renewal. Plus version has a 69 dollar annual fee. If you plan to cancel the card, it probably makes sense to go with a Plus version.
I mentioned in my previous post that we would need 112000 Club Carlson points to pay for 8 hotel nights in Florida. That is because you get every second night redemption free. If we put the minimum spend on that card, we would have 97500 points, including the sign-up bonus. Since the card earns 5 points per dollar, we would need to spend a bit less than $3000 to get the remaining points. So, the total spent so far is $5500
Here are the hotels we would stay at:
The goal is to visit Disney, and fortunately, the hotel provides a convenient base, being located just 1 mile from the parks. The cost is 15000 points per night, and we get a second night free.
This family-friendly hotel is located in Cape Canaveral and would provide a good base to visit Kennedy Space center. The cost is 38000 points per night, with second night free.
The hotel is located in Melbourne, about an hour from Orlando. All the rooms in the resort face the ocean. The cost is 44000 points per night, with second night free.
The goal is to visit Universal Studios, as you can guess from the name. The cost is 15000 points, with second night free.
Grand total is 112000 points. Keep in mind, there is always a chance of devaluation and the possibility of Club Carlson removing the “second night free” benefit. I don’t consider that program to be super reliable. They also have a habit of giving 3 days notice on changes in categories. To be fair, SPG and IHG have raised award requirements before with no notice whatsoever, so it’s a possibility with any program.
I have covered Chase Rapid Rewards Visa and some redemptions previously in this post. A lot will depend on where you live in the country, but 52000 points(the bonus plus the minimum spend) should be enough to cover 4 roundtrip tickets, especially if you live on the East Coast. You can always buy the 4th one if you are running short.
The best strategy would be to meet the spend on Southwest card first and book the award tickets before March 31st to beat the devaluation. Since our trip starts and ends in Orlando, we can always reverse the order of Club Carlson hotel stays, in case one is not available on points on the dates we need. Also, since Melbourne and Cape Canaveral are located not too far from Orlando, we can always start or end there, depending on award availability.
The Club Carlson card bonus will mostly work for families of 4 or less, since you will have to share a room. If you have more people than that, and some of you do (I’m looking at you, Nick from PFDigest!), you will have to come up with another plan. One option is to get a card in each spouse’s name, though that will increase your spending requirement by $5500. I have described some ways to reach it in this post.
Truthfully, if you need to get two hotel rooms each night, that would diminish the value proposition significantly. It probably would make more sense to get a condo through VRBO or Skyauction, set up base in Orlando and make day trips from there. You might be better off concentrating on getting enough flight points for everyone through Southwest.
After applying for just 2 cards and spending $7500 total, you can potentially have enough points to cover 8 nights worth of hotel rooms and flights for a family of four. That would make the exorbitant prices of Disney a lot easier to swallow!
P. S. There is a 100000 miles offer for Citi American Airlines credit card, though with 450 dollar fee and high spending requirements. See my “Best deals” page for more.
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.