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Want to see more of the world, but are limited by budget? Learn how one couple used travel hacking so their entire family could take fantastic trips! 

Travel Hacking as a Family

While I know many families are eager to get out there and travel this summer, I also know that one of the holdups they have is their budget.

Whether you're flying, renting cars. Staying at an Airbnb hotel. Everything has gotten more expensive. Traveling as a couple can be pricey, but still feasible. But it can be a financial challenge when you add kids to the mix.

That's why I want to share from the archive and interview I had with Dan Miller, founder of Points With a Crew.

Dan's managed to score some wonderful deals on his trips including getting plane tickets for his entire family to lake Tahoe and a cross country train ride. Did I mention they're a family of eight?

Hopefully we'll show how you can keep more money in your pocket and still have your family seeing the world around them.

In today's episode he shares:

  • how to choose the right credit cards to maximize rewards
  • staying out of debt while staying on top of their credit cards
  • tricks and tips on getting kids ready for traveling

Hope you enjoy!

If you're looking for more travel tips from a couple with kids, please check out my interview with early retiree Justin from Root of Good.

Travel Hacking Resources and More

Want to learn more about travel hacking? Here are some resources to check out:

Don't forget to send in your marriage and money questions for our upcoming listener mailbag episode!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

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Family Travel Hacking with Points with a Crew

Elle Martinez: I first heard about Dan from an article he wrote about his family's budget. What immediately caught my eye was how little he spent on family travel.

He mentioned how he, his wife and their six kids use their credit card rewards to travel for free. I had to call them up and find out more.

Dan Miller: My name's Dan Miller. I live with my wife and six kids in Cincinnati, Ohio. I write the travel five points with a crew as in like a crew of people.

And we focused mostly on family travel and how even family or even large families and travel. How do you think airline mail and hotel points for a fraction of the cost that you might think that you'd need a means, a cross-country trip who's pointing Dean's big wings in motivated him to get more serious about travel hacking?

I'm kind of a math and numbers guy so that the concept of using points and miles and then I've been aware of it for several years.

I first started really giving in to actually actively collecting them about two or three years ago. My family and I, we have an extended family reunion every two years and it's in different places across the country.

And so in the summer of 2012, after our family, we decided that the next one was going to be out in Lake Tahoe. And I knew that a cross-country plane ticket was going to be really expensive. So I knew that that could potentially make the difference between attending and not being able to attend.

So I decided to finally start being serious about collecting them mostly through credit card signing bonuses. And then for our 2014 reunion, we ended up using one hundred and seventy thousand software rewards points to fly all eight of us around, trip to Lake Tahoe and back. And we had a great time in our family reunion.

Racking Up those Credit Card Rewards with Credit Churning

Elle Martinez: People who have used credit card rewards to fund their trips but having no personal experience. I asked Dan to explain to me how credit turning works for him.

Dan Miller: [Credit card] churning is kind of the idea of opening up a lot of credit cards, primarily for the sign-up bonus that we have, meeting that requirements for the sign up bonus and then sometimes, but not always closing them within a year or so.

So the idea is that there are many card. I'll give one as an example, case in card. It's actually a business credit card and it offers, I think the sign-up bonus. Right now it's fifty thousand eight point.

If you meet here spending, if you spend at least I think five thousand dollars in the first three months of having the card go, you apply for that card. Meaning that your credit is good on you.

One of the things that we all live for is making sure that you don't you're not carrying any credit card debt.

You never want to pay any interest on the card because any miles or benefits you get are going to be eaten up by the interest.

If you do that, assuming that everything else is all you've taken care of as far as your financial situation, you apply for that or we use several cards and you do it every couple of months and you just keep racking up these sign-up bonuses.

Are Your Credit Scores Affected by Travel Hacking?

There are a lot of people you know, the first question I usually get when I talk to people about that – doesn't that hurt your credit score?

[That's] a smart question, but it actually actually doesn't.

You will get maybe a 2-3 point temporary hit for a hard credit pull on your credit score.

It goes away after a couple of months and your credit score.

There are five main factors for determining your credit score, and one of them is the percentage of your credit that you that you're utilizing. So say you have a $10000 card with a $10000 limit and you have a thousand dollars that you spend on it. So you're using 10 percent of your available credit.

But if I have 10 cards that have turned out narrowly and I'm still only using that, then one thousand dollars, I'm only using one percent of my available credit.

The positive contact on your credit score, you know, I've been doing this for a couple of years now, both from my wife and I. And our credit scores are still, you know, in high 700s.


picking the right credit cards to sign up with. Important. So many wins out there. It can be difficult to sort through unless you have a system that's a good thing.

I think different people have different systems for that.

As far as keeping keeping on top of what cards are out there and kind of what good thing which card you should apply for. You know, I was kind of reading some of the travel blog up, open my own blog points with the crew as a good thing and be aware of. Some of those kind of deals that are out there. The one thing that I would recommend people do is not just apply for a bunch of credit card just because got something in the mail or you read it on a blog or without really understanding what they're doing.

But I would recommend to pick a destination, pick a vacation, say, OK, I want to take my family to Hawaii where I want to do this?

Amtrak trip? Figure out what you want, what points can get you there, and then apply for those credit cards, the ones that will get you to do what you want if you just apply for.

Credit cards across different America, some American might help you Pilton Point. You're going to find that with a small amount of point and a lot of different places that can't really get you to where you want to go. Staying on top of the credit card can take some. Don't get hit with interest payments.

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This episode was originally released in April 2015. Show notes have been updated in May 2022.

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..