The Simple Way You Can Get Your Dream Vacation For Free

If you're willing to get a little creative and do some research, your next vacation could cost next to nothing

May 25, 2014 at 11:43AM

Do you want to take a vacation, but cash is a little tight right now? If you're willing to do a little legwork, you could get a vacation for next to nothing, thanks to the healthy competition between the credit card companies. Here's how you can get a nearly free vacation simply by signing up for products from American Express (NYSE:AXP), Citigroup (NYSE:C), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and others.


Getting there
There are no shortage of airline-branded credit cards to choose from, and the right one for you depends on your favorite airline, how much you travel, and what perks matter to you. Virtually all airline cards offer a generous "welcome gift", so for our purposes, let's focus on those cards with low annual fees.

The Delta Sky Miles Gold American Express card has a $95 annual fee, but it's waived for the first year. After you make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months, you get a 30,000 mile bonus, which is more than enough for a free flight. The card also entitles you to free checked bags. So, for no upfront annual fee, your flight is covered.

Most other airlines have similar offers. USAirways' credit card products are issued by Barclays, and offer an even sweeter welcome bonus than Delta. The USAirways Premier World MasterCard offers a 40,000 mile bonus after your first purchase and the payment of the $89 annual fee (unfortunately not free for the first year). You also get the free bags perk.

American Airlines and United both have similar offers, issued by Citibank and JPMorgan Chase, respectively, so no matter what airline you prefer, a free round-trip ticket and checked bags could be as easy as filling out an application.

Where to stay?
All of the major hotel chains offer credit cards, and many have very generous welcome bonuses. For example, the Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Card, issued by U.S. Bank, charges just a $50 annual fee, and gives you enough bonus points after your first purchase for up to five free nights at such hotel brands as Radisson and Country Inn and Suites.

Hilton offers credit cards issued by either American Express or Citibank, and both offer cards with absolutely no annual fee that come with enough points for a couple of free nights and HHonors Silver status for as long as you have the card.

The IHG Rewards Club Select card, issued by JPMorgan Chase, offers enough welcome points for up to six free nights at hotels like Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and InterContinental Hotels. It comes with a $49 annual fee, but it's free for the first year.

Rental cars and more
There are several cards available with flexible travel perks that you can use for rental cars and other transportation expenses, and a great example is the Capital One Venture card. The card has a $59 annual fee (free for the first year) and earns double miles on every purchase. Each "mile" is redeemable for $0.01 in travel expenses like flights, hotels, rental cards, and even gift cards.

The current bonus offer is 20,000 miles after $2,000 in purchases, which is good for $200 in travel expenses. This should more than cover a rental car for a four or five day vacation in most parts of the country.

But don't I have to spend a lot of money?
Not as much as you might think. Most of these cards have pretty low annual fees, ranging from nothing to $89 per year. As far as the spending requirements are concerned, as long as you use your cards for things you would have bought anyway with cash or a debit card, then pay the balance off in full each month, it shouldn't cost you a dime other than annual fees, most of which are waived for the first year anyway.

Your credit card may soon be completely worthless
The plastic in your wallet is about to go the way of the typewriter, the VCR, and the 8-track tape player. When it does, a handful of investors could stand to get very rich. You can join them -- but you must act now. An eye-opening new presentation reveals the full story on why your credit card is about to be worthless -- and highlights one little-known company sitting at the epicenter of an earth-shaking movement that could hand early investors the kind of profits we haven't seen since the dot-com days. Click here to watch this stunning video.

Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American Express. The Motley Fool owns shares of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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