Rick Ingersoll discusses the best deals out there for frequent travelers
by Kim Weiss
Rick Ingersoll is the author of the popular Frugal Travel Guy blog, which is read around the world and averages 6000 views per day. He is constantly on the lookout for the best credit card and debit card sign-up bonuses, and he posts travel tips daily on these and other technique to help his readers reduce their travel expenses for the rest of their lives.
Yet with all the new deals he’s constantly finding, his “Top Travel Deals” remain constant. What are they? He took the time recently to explain.
No 1: Specific credit card companies that offer huge sign-up bonuses.
“The number of cards offering big bonuses with no first year fee is growing rapidly,” Ingersoll said. “If you need 50,000 Continental or British Airways miles, or 50,000 Hyatt, Priority Club, or Marriott hotel points, you should apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Guest card. And the Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easily transferrable, one to one, to the Hyatt, Priority Club and Marriott programs.”
“This card offers 50,000 Membership Rewards Points with no first year fee,” he said. “The minimum spend is $10,000, but you have a lengthy five months to complete that spend. If you have property taxes to pay or you have an extension to pay your income taxes in October, you can use this card to pay both and get to that minimum spend pretty quickly.”
No 3: Using your good credit to secure free travel.
“There is no more effective or lucrative way for someone with a good credit score and financial discipline to amass frequent flier miles than to take advantage of a host of credit card sign-up bonus offers,” Ingersoll says. “Of course, this method is not for those who don’t handle credit wisely and who don’t, or can’t, pay off their cards’ balances in full every month. It takes a good credit score and the ability to follow promotion directions to pull this off.”
The effect on your credit score per credit card application is only two to five points, according to Ingersoll. “I’ve received over 90 credit card sign-up bonuses over the years and still have excellent credit. This is a terrific mileage earning technique, but remember: You must meet the minimum spend requirements in the amount of time they give you, and you must pay your cards in full at the end of the month. If you can’t do that, this technique is definitely not for you.”
“The American Express Platinum Card has a rather steep annual fee of $450, but it gives you 25,000 Membership Rewards points, $200 in airline incidental spend credit, and lounge access for one full year,” Ingersoll said. “There are also two ‘Mercedes Benz’ versions of this card that offer 5000 or 50,000 points, depending on the annual fee. The more expensive card provides lounge access as well. I can’t vouch for these other versions, however.”
No. 5: Bank Direct Mileage Checking for American Airlines.
“Why do I like this program? Because you can earn up to 22,000 American Airlines frequent flier miles by making direct deposits into it for three months, using its bill pay function for 12 months, and, most importantly, you can earn 100 miles per month per $1000 you keep in the account,” he explained. “There’s also a 1000-mile sign-up bonus.”
Ingersoll noted that miles earned are typically non-taxable, and that the Bank Direct program requires maintaining a $2500 minimum balance to avoid monthly fees.
“The SPG card is simple the best for travel,” he said. “It allows you to earn a 10,000-mile sign-up bonus, there’s no annual fee for the first year, and you have the opportunity to earn 15,000 more points with just a $5000 spend over the first six months. This is my go-to card for everything.”
No 7: US Airways’ 40,000-mile card with no first year fee.
No 8: FlyerTalk tip – 75,000 American Airlines miles
On on FlyerTalk.com, the primary online community where frequent travelers around the world exchange knowledge and experiences, “there’s evidence that people are still getting 75,000 American Airlines miles for personal cards on the same day they apply and that amount again on the business card if they apply 90 days later,” he said. “That’s a good deal in anybody’s book.”
Rick Ingersoll is a retired mortgage banker who got into the “travel hacking” game as a hobby. But as he continued to amass miles and points and he and his wife began to enjoy travel the world for free or nearly free, he was inspired to share his tips and techniques with others by blogging. He also published The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook.
Today, Ingersoll receives a constant stream of thanks from readers who have been able to travel at prices they can afford since they began following The Frugal Travel Guy.