Cash or Miles Rebates for Credit Card Expenses. Which is Better? - Part 2

[This is a continuation of the topic Cash or Miles Rebates for Credit Card Expenses. Which is Better? - Part 1]

If all goes all well, as shared in my previous post, we would need just $3,000 for two international vacations and two US-domestic trips, saving $6,800.  Together, Isa and I plan to apply 20 credit cards in 2014, or 10 per person in one year, or 3 credit cards every 4 months, rather than spending $70,000 credit card expenses for 5% cash-rebate, or $100,000 for 3% cash-rebate.  I have been approved 18 credit cards in 2013, so the game plan seems promising.

Additional Ways to Lower Vacation Cost

The $3000 budget is for car rental and dining.  The following are ideas that may be able to lower the budget even more,

Sign-up Cash Bonus from Credit Cards

Share Cost with Vacation Buddies
  • If you have extra miles/points to redeem flight tickets and/or free hotel stays for your travel buddies (such as a party-of-four vacation), the other party can pay for car rental and cover your dining costs.  I have done it with reward programs of Hilton, Marriott, United Airlines, Cathay and Eva Air.  Just confirmed Southwest Airlines also allows purchasing flight ticket for friends and families, so I can purchase flight tickets for my parents-in-law in the coming November without Isa or me to come along.

Auto Rental Options

No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Most no-foreign-transaction fee credit card has first year membership waived. Plan ahead to bring the credit card to international vacation before canceling it.  My favorite is Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Plus card.

American Express Credit Card Special Discount Offers
  • American Express sometimes has promotions to its credit card holders via My Offers (use browser multi-tab strategy to add offers to your American Express credit cards)

  • Certain American Express credit cards have special promotion such as $75 credit rebate for select hotel, vacation or cruise.

Profits from Manufactured Spending

  • AMEX Blue Card Preferred card with $100 sign-up bonus and $75 annual fee offers 6% cash rebate on grocery shopping, up to $6000 purchase per year.  If you purchase twelve $500 Visa/MasterCard debit prepaid cards, pay $5.95 surcharge fee, and cash reload those prepaid cards back into your American Express Bluebird account via Walmart ATM Express kiosks, then you can make $100 + $360 ($6000 x 6%) gross profit or $100 + $213 net profit ($360 - $5.95x12) or $313 net profit (non-taxable).  This is technically feasible.  However, American Express may shut down your credit card after noticing twelve purchases of identical amount of $505.95, and you would also need to make at least 12 trips to Walmart stores which allows maximum $500 reload per day.  This profitable approach is teasing but not recommended.

Business Trip Piggybacking
  • If your business trip is close to where your vacation destination is, then likely flight ticket expenses can be covered by your company.  This would be the most effective way to save short vacation trip expenses.

Indeed, I do not expect completely free vacation trips; I simply believe in affordable great vacation trips.

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