We are a married couple who arrived to the States about two and a half years ago. International Students with 0 credit history and a strong desire to see it all! All of my college friends tend to think that I am from a very rich family (unfortunately, that's not true), since we are always going somewhere.
These two years were extremely busy. We've been to beautiful national parks in Alaska, gorgeous beaches in the Caribbean, dozens of awesome cities in America, including New York, Washington DC, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and many more.
Have no idea how I survived my thesis defense, but I do know that I had an awesome graduation party, which started with a flight from Miami to Amsterdam in May and ended with Paris-San Francisco in August.
The best part is that all these trips were free. Well, almost free.
We've been living here for almost 3 years, but I am still amazed that so many Americans have very false perceptions about traveling.
You don't need to be rich to see the world
Services like couchsurfing.com allow you to find hosts in pretty much any destination, with airbnb.com you can always get a great rate for a room/apartment/house, airlines are constantly running sales. Moreover, price mistakes happen all the time, which could offer tremendous discounts for both airfare and hotels. But that's not all.
Credit cards were real game changers for us.
Both of us didn't have any credit history (since we were international students), so we had to establish credit before using all the awesome perks and bonuses of credit cards.
During that time we mostly stayed with couchsurfers trying to spot all the price-error fares and sweet deals. We even jumped on a 10-hour long Megabus ride to San Antonio, since roundtrip tickets were on sale for just one dollar each way.
I haven't realized that I was able to apply for a Discover It card with 100 dollar signup bonus, because of all those scary articles who told that the only way to start building credit was to use a secured-credit card.
So, I've wasted my first hard pull on a completely useless card from local credit union, which actually helped me to establish good credit in about 6 months.
Then the real fun has started.
Since that moment we've opened around 30 credit cards, which helped us to fund ALL of our trips. At one point our combined miles and points balance across all frequent flyers and hotel loyalty programs reached one million and never droped less than that. Flying first class, staying in world's most luxurious hotels became reality. And once again, we're a couple of college students!
Apart from generous signup bonuses, some great credit card offer awesome perks for travelers (and pretty much everyone). We never panic when our flight is delayed or cancelled. Instead I am googling the most expensive hotels in that area, because of great benefits of Chase Sapphire Reserve card. That's how we spend an extra night in Ritz Carlton in Atlanta with dinner and breakfast covered by Chase (value of almost $1,000).
But that's not all. In addition to travel, price and return protection our credit cards actually helped us to build a very good credit score, because of better utilization ratio. That ruins another cliche, since my credit score is in mid 750s with more than 15 opened accounts in the last two years. In fact, the only reason why it is so small is because of relatively short credit history.
Yesterday we returned from a 5 day Disney trip which cost us exactly ZERO dollars, because of miles, points, travel credits, Amex offers, cashback cards and portals.
On our way back we decided to create this blog, where we can share all the tips and tricks we know,
so that YOU can start travel for free too!
I've also written an automated software, which constantly searches for price errors, sales and promotions of many airlines and hotel chains.
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a free guide on how to get started and be the first one to learn about all great promotions, price errors, lucrative bank offers and awesome travel deals!
Welcome to the family!