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It’s been awhile since I used a clickbait headline, friends. So, if you are one of lucky folks who got in on 100K points Chase Sapphire Reserve bonanza, you now may be wondering how you should spend your $300 annual travel credit for 2018.
The bonus on this card is currently slashed in half, so I recommend you hold off applying in the hopes that Chase will increase it in a near future. I doubt it will ever approach 100K level, but I don’t think it will go below 50K points (the current offer). So, for now, my advice is: Wait.
A nice thing about Chase Sapphire Reserve is the fact that it offers $300 travel credit per calendar year. So, new applicants can potentially get $600 out of it during their first 12 months as a cardmember. Let me share with you the crazy way I utilized this perk, though in my defense, it was my sister-in-law’s idea.
Where the heck is Mallorca?
If you think I cram too much sightseeing into my vacations, you haven’t met this gal. If there is an hour in the day where we are not doing something, she feels like she’s failed. It was bad enough when we traveled without kids, but now things are significantly harder. Because, like most kids, mine don’t want to be going non-stop all day long. Cue meltdowns.
But it’s hard to reason with my sister-in-law and I’ve tried. What’s fascinating to me, though, is that my husband usually goes along with her schemes. I don’t know if it’s because she is older or he doesn’t want to rock the boat. Now if I bring up something crazy, he will throw a fit. But not with her, no way!
And so it goes with her latest scheme. As many of you know, in just one month we’ll be going to Europe to visit my family. On the way (sort of) we’ll stop over in Barcelona for five nights. Of course, we plan to do some sightseeing in the area. On top of it, my sister-in-law has booked a full day tour that goes to Andorra and France. Because why stick to just one country, right? She insisted on paying for it, so there wasn’t a whole lot I could do.
But wait, there is more! Through her research she has discovered the island of Mallorca. I’ve heard the name, but if you asked me before now where Mallorca is located on the map, I honestly would have no clue.
So, she brought up the idea of flying there for part of the day from Barcelona. I expected my husband to shut this whole thing down, but he didn’t. Say what? Of course, my biggest objection was cost. We really need to watch our expenses because travel is eating up a huge chunk of our budget, despite all the sign-up bonuses I collect on a regular basis. We are a middle-class family, we are a middle-class family… That’s what I keep telling myself on a regular basis.
Well, my sister-in-law offered to pay for flights. OK, let’s check it out. I went on Kayak.com because it usually displays most low-cost options. To my surprise, the fare was quite reasonable. Vueling, a low-cost European carrier has several direct flights to Mallorca (or Majorca as they call it) per day. The flight is pretty short, about 40 minutes. A fun fact: Vueling is starting non-stop flights from Barcelona to Minsk on June 4th. If you are familiar with Belarus, you know it’s a big deal.
Anyway, if we left Barcelona in the morning and came back in the evening, we could fly to Mallorca for only $50 roundtrip per person. Of course, this was just the cost of the flight, but since it would be a day trip, we wouldn’t need to check any luggage. There would be taxi fares and other expenses, but we would be visiting a freakin’ island in the Mediterranean!
Ahh, why the heck not? I know we are crazy, but Mallorca looks like a beautiful place with lots of history. You can see a list of things to do on this Trip Advisor page. We plan to take the kids on a train ride around the island.
Who knows when we will be back to Spain, if ever. I’m still trying to figure out how to get back to Santorini, my favorite island in the world. Carpe diem, baby!
So, the total would be $250 for five people and my sister-in-law was ready to book the tickets. However, I remembered that I still had a $300 travel credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve for year 2018. Sure, I could use if for all kinds of expenses between now and August (the time I plan to bid adieu to CSR).
But we needed these tickets now and my sister-in-law does so much for us anyway. Plus, I still have about 70,000 points between mine and my husband’s Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard bonuses. Add to it my recent approval for Altitude Reserve card, and I should have another $325 travel credit at my disposal.
I decided to just use the credit from CSR and be done with it. Like I said, now I kind of wanted to visit Mallorca anyway, so it didn’t feel right to make my sister-in-law pay for flights.
I probably wouldn’t pay cash, but travel credit made this an easy decision
I would have a hard time justifying this craziness if I didn’t have that $300 credit at my disposal. Sure, you can buy Southwest gift cards and resell them, or do sneaky things in order to cash out the credit without taking a loss. But very few people will do that. Most, like me, will simply spend it on travel, the way it was intended. Of course, in this case, my sister-in-law would indeed end up spending cash, but I’m glad she didn’t have to.
I highly recommend you read this post on Asthejoeflies blog: Do we overrate travel credits on high annual fee credit cards? Very eloquently put and I agree wholeheartedly with the analysis.
That’s why it’s not exactly fair to view this type of perk as cash equivalent. Many times (though not always), it will simply encourage you to travel more. But you know what? Maybe it’s not a bad thing, assuming you can afford it, of course. That’s how special memories are made. Just don’t do crazy stuff I’ve described in the post if you have small kids. Mallorca, here we come!
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Leana is the 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.