A COUPLE are travelling the world for free after raking up enough air miles to visit 40 countries on their credit cards.
Chad Janis and wife Hannah moved to New York last year with just six suitcases to their names, after graduating university and getting engaged, then spent 12 months earning a combined £127,000 working gruelling hours.
Chad, 25, clocked in an average 80-100 hours a week at a global investment bank, and said he “hates thinking about” how often he would walk through the office doors at 9am only to finally leave at midnight, while Hannah worked at the hedge fund Kingdon Capital.
Chad said that he quickly realised his passion was travel hacking, not investment banking, spending an extra 20-40 hours a week finding out the best ways to save money while on the road.
Then day last Friday, when they quit their jobs, with plans to spend the next year flying to more than 40 countries around the world for free, using airline points earned via spending on credit cards. First stop, Honolulu.
The couple announced on their Facebook page: “After earning over two million airline points in the last year, we quit our finance jobs, sold our stuff, and are taking off.”
They continued: “Our tickets are already booked entirely with points, and we are headed out for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to over 40 countries in business class for free.”
The duo will also visit Tokyo, Sydney, Bangkok, Shanghai, Phuket, Tel Aviv, Dubai and Cairo.
Chad said the key to their “hack” was mastering airline points, which led to them opening a whopping 42 credit cards – saving £47,000 in travel expenses. But be warned, read on before considering following in their footsteps.
He told news.com.au: “Over the last year, we have mastered several travel hacks [but] all free travel stems from credit cards – the easiest way to earn airline points is through a credit card’s sign-up bonus.”
Chad added: “Earning points through credit cards is simple: You open a new card and spend enough money on that card to hit the ‘minimum spend’ requirement, which then triggers the card’s sign-up bonus, earning you 30,000 to 100,000 airline points.
“However, credit cards are not free money — their rewards are. As minimalists, we never spend money on things we don’t need, so we made sure to hit the ‘minimum spend’ requirements organically by simply planning ahead of time what our expected expenses would be in the near-term future.”
“We’ve already booked out the next eight months of free flights, the majority of which were through Singapore Airlines’ business class round-the-world offering [240,000 points per person].”
He continued: “From there, we used the points we earned with other airlines through our cards’ sign-up bonuses to book ancillary, ‘shorter’ flight tickets such as our flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Vava’u, Tonga, and many others.
“We also have several hundred thousand points with hotel programs. We’ve redeemed them for free hotel stays at Marriott, SPG, Hyatt, and Hilton, including a free, all-inclusive week-long stay at Marriott’s Fiji Momi Bay category 8 resort.”
The keen travellers have now launched a website called WallStreetMinimalist.com to help others follow in their footsteps.
Here are their three top lesser-known travel hacks:
• Singapore Airlines round-the-world business class ticket — For only 240,000 points, you can book up to seven segments of flights in business class that only expire a year after you redeem your points for the first ticket. We booked our longest flights (6+ hours) using this travel hack because it offers such an incredible value.
• Marriott hotel + air package— Marriott offers a package on their website that allows you to exchange your points for a seven-night certificate. We exchanged 285,000 points for seven nights at a category eight (top) resort in Fiji. In addition to the certificate, Marriott also gifts you points to the airline of your choice. In this case, we got 55,000 United miles by redeeming for the certificate. Truly a great value.
• No minimum spend cards — Many people worry that they can’t hit the minimum spend a card requires to trigger the sign-up bonus. But there are actually some cards out there that don’t require a minimum spend. You just have to swipe the card once (for any amount, even $1) and pay the annual fee, and you’ll receive the sign-up bonus.
We used this travel hack to get us to South Africa for free. We went to Pick-a-Bagel here in New York, and both used our cards to buy a bagel each. Those bagels alone were almost all we needed to get us our free flights to South Africa this past June.
But is it a good tactic to save air miles using credit cards?
Finder.com.au editor-in-chief Angus Kidman has warned travellers to be cautious before following such advice, especially when it comes to opening multiple cards.
He said: “Credit card bonuses can supercharge your points total, but it’s important to be aware of the fine print – most deals require you to spend a minimum amount each month over several months, so you won’t be able to rack up millions in points unless you’re also on a high income and spending regularly.
“Many banks will also block you from getting bonus points if you’ve been on a similar deal with the same bank or bank group.”
This article was first published on News.com.au and has been reproduced with permission.