Chad and Hannah Janis are living everyone’s travel dreams.
The couple is celebrating their second wedding anniversary in Hawaii and then heading out to travel the world for a year, using 2 million airline miles they racked up by strategically playing the credit card bonus game.
Yes, you read that right — Chad, 25, and Hannah, 23, will be visiting over 40 countries and possibly more on miles they earned while simply using credit cards on expenses they had to pay over the past year anyway.
Two weeks ago, they quit their finance jobs, sold everything and packed two suitcases and two backpacks to embark on their epic journey. After spending a couple of weeks in Hawaii, they plan to fly to Japan next and from that point on, the world is their oyster.
Here’s how they made this dream a reality, all the while creating a nice side-hustle for themselves, and how they say, you can do it too.
It all started with a free flight to New York City
The dynamic duo graduated from college just about a year ago, but their journey into the world of travel-hacking began a few years earlier.
In 2015, Chad was busy looking for a coveted finance job on Wall Street while still at college in Utah. After being unable to pay for a plane ticket to New York, poor college student and all, a friend suggested he open a certain credit card that had a bonus built in. He ended up “booking the ticket for free.”
“That’s when the idea sparked in my mind,” he told “GMA.”
After testing the credit card waters over the next year or so, when Chad and Hannah moved to New full-time last year, they went “pretty hard with the points game.” No kidding!
They opened up dozens of credit cards and actually boosted their credit score in the process by making sure they were only using these cards on expenses they had to pay anyway. That way, at the end of the month, their balances were almost always zero.
“We were cycling through cards the entire time,” he said, adding that at one point they had about 26 cards between them. “Now, we just have our two cards we carry with us and use all the time.”
Chad said people always assume they must have spent $200,000 or so to get these miles, but not true.
“All in, we spent around $56,500,” he said. “Which is a high number still, but we lived in New York City with much higher expenses, and we also started a business and were able to pay the engineer their salary using credit, leveraging our business expenses.”
He added that over the next year traveling, they intend to spend around $100 a day on expenses. Not too shabby.
Their side hustle is called, “Wall Street Minimalist,” and is a website dedicated to helping others live the dream they are now just beginning.
On their site, the ingenious couple go into great detail how to raise your credit score, get free flights and more. But don’t stress, Chad is going to break down a few key tips in this story as well. But the site is definitely worth checking out.
“We are flying at a minimum until next July, with hundreds of thousands of miles to spare,” he said. “So, we’ll continue doing this, I’m not sure if you can do it indefinitely, just depends on how we are feeling.”
Some of the stops the couple are really excited for include swimming with humpback whales in Tonga next month, a stop in the Philippines and Indonesia later on, and a trip to Egypt.
How you can actually boost your credit score doing this.
Chad said Hannah was the perfect test case when they began their credit card buffet.
She had a credit score in the 600s, only because she hadn’t owned a card or used much credit prior. Because of this, she wasn’t getting approved for some cards at first, but this all turned around when she began using simple hacks.
“When you get a new credit card, the biggest factors are credit utilization,” Chad explained. “How much money you have to use, not how much you owe.”
So, basically if you pay off the balance each month, the credit bureau sees you using 0 percent of what you can and that’s good.
Chad also said automatic payments are key.
Paying on time is another factor is raising your credit. So, if you have 20 cards and are paying all of them on time and never slip, you have more successes and they’ll see that you are responsible, hence a higher score.
“That makes up about 65 percent of your credit score,” he said.
Now, Hannah boasts a credit score close to 800!
Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of dedication and restraint.
How you can turn this great credit into free flights.
Chad had three simple, yet super-effective travel hacks that anyone can do and which could get you somewhere amazing for free.
1 – Start with a location in mind.
“Most hackers say ‘Let me get the best credit card with best offer,'” Chad said.
Not him, he likes to reverse-engineer the process. Start with a location, say South Africa. Then check out all the airlines that fly there and find the best offer, points-wise. Then look at the credit cards that are associated with that airline to find the best rewards program.
And like magic, you are well on your way to traveling to South Africa! Just make sure you have enough vacation time available.
2 – The Singapore Airlines business class round-the-world ticket.
It’s definitely a mouthful, but it’s also the steal of the century, Chad says.
It’s only 240,000 points and you get eight flights to almost anywhere, and it’s a steal!
“That’s 10 times the value of your points you could get with almost any other redemption,” he says, adding that he’s surprised the airline still offers this program.
The key is you don’t have to be like Chad and Hannah, you can take say a month off and use the eight flights in one continent or main location and really explore one area.
“The value on this is unbelievable,” he said.
3 – Never spend on credit what you wouldn’t have spent otherwise.
It sounds simple, but it really is just a minor shift in perception. Plan your expenses and be intentional, Chad says.
“How much do I expect to spend, not how much can I spend,” he says.
In fact, the duo thought long and hard about what they could give up over the past year, like clothes and eating out, and prioritized what was important and necessary to them.
In the long run, they found that travel was their goal and they made it a reality.
Don’t look at a credit card as a piggy bank, look at it as a vehicle to earn miles and free trips. Then, you’re well on your way to being a frugal jet-setter in no time!
© 2018 Cox Media Group.