Using Credit Cards To Earn Reward Points

Using Credit Cards To Earn Reward PointsOne of my most favorite ways to travel for cheap is by using credit cards to earn credit card rewards points.

I have earned really amazing vacations this way, and I have even been able to take my friends and family members on trips with my credit card rewards points as well.

Below are some of the things you should know if you are interested in using credit cards to earn rewards.

What can I earn with a credit card?

Only certain credit cards allow you to earn reward points, so first you will have to start with finding one that does. After you do, each credit card offers different types of reward points.

Some only offer cash back, some only offer gift cards, some only offer travel, and some offer all three or just a mixture.

At first, I was all about the cash back and scoring some free gift cards. Then, I really got into travel rewards because travel seemed to be the best deal I could always find. I have been able to redeem around 10 roundtrip flights for vacations I have gone on. I don’t even spend any more than I normally would – it’s all just routine spending such as on gas and groceries!

Will it hurt my credit score?

Applying for a new credit card can bring your credit score down a little bit, but usually it’s nothing too drastic.

If you are about to buy a home, then it’s usually best to not apply for a new credit card right before then. Always consult with your mortgage loan officer about something like this. You don’t want something like a credit card to increase your interest rate on a mortgage.

How can I stay safe?

If you are using credit cards for the sole purpose of earning rewards, then you always need to be safe. Here are my tips:

  • Don’t buy items you don’t need. Just because you are earning points does not mean the item is free. You don’t want to go into credit card debt!
  • Watch your utilization rate. The saying is that you want to stay below 30% of your credit card limit so that you don’t hurt your credit score. So, if your limit is $1,000 on your credit card, do not spend more than $300 on your credit card.
  • Is there an annual fee? Some credit cards have very high annual fees. You will have to weigh the positives and negatives to see if this fee is worthwhile to you.
  • Always understand the rules and definitions of terms when it comes to your credit card. These can include: minimum payment, interest rate, expiration, etc.

Do you use credit cards for their rewards? Why or why not?

 

4 Tips Before Bringing Your Dog Hiking On a Trail

4 Tips Before Bringing Your Dog Hiking On a TrailWe’re about to leave for another road trip, and we are bringing our dogs again.

This time, our main objective is to hike a lot of trails and reach the top of several mountains in Colorado.

We plan on bringing one of our dogs (the other one is too small) on as many as she can go on, but we plan on doing a lot of things in order to make sure everything goes as planned.

Below are four tips to keep in mind before bringing your dog on a trail to go hiking:

1. Do you know if you are allowed to even bring your dog?

Before you bring your dog on a trail, you should first know whether or not they can come. You should do your research and find out if the trail allows dogs. Most trails will tell you online, and if not then they will tell you at the beginning on the trail with a sign.

There are MANY trails out there that do not allows dogs at all. For the most part, any trails in a national park do not allow dogs. National parks usually only allow dogs on the road or within 50 feet of the road. This is usually to protect the wildlife in a national park.

Trails within national forests usually allows dogs though, and these are the ones we usually go to.

2. Always clean up after them.

Dogs have a bad reputation on trails. If you want to bring your dog on a trail, please make sure to clean up after them. This means that you MUST bring plastic bags with you and that you will have to carry the bags either with you or with your dog on your hike. Don’t just leave the bags behind because that defeats the whole purpose.

Whenever someone leaves a mess from their dog behind, you are really just ruining it for everyone.

3. Bring everything they need.

There are many items you will need if you want to bring your dog hiking with you on trails. This is so that your dog will be comfortable hiking and so that they remain healthy.

You will want to bring water, food (this isn’t always the case – it really depends on your dog), bowls for the food and water, a leash (always keep your dog leashed!), plastic bags, and so on. You might even want to invest in some dog booties just in case you come across rough terrain.

4. Don’t get too ahead of yourself.

Whatever you do, always make sure to take plenty of breaks. If you’re dog needs a rest or wants to turn back, then you should.

Also, try to prepare for a longer hike on a trail if you can. For us, we have been bringing her on many walks on trails as we can. We have also been having her carry a dog backpack with everything she needs so that she can get used to carrying it.

For the dog backpack, it is best to start out with nothing in it. Then, you gradually add more and more of the items she needs until she can carry a full backpack. This is usually the best and easiest way to get your dog used to carrying a dog backpack.

Have you ever brought your dog on a trail?

What’s the furthest you’ve hiked with your dog?

 

Image via Flickr by OakleyOriginals

How To Save Money On A Cruise

How To Save Money On A CruiseWe recently went on our first cruise and it was a lot of fun. We went on a seven day long cruise to the Caribbean that left from a port in southern Florida.

This was our very first cruise, and we had a lot of questions because of that. We didn’t know how anything worked, and it was even a little overwhelming since we’ve never traveled this way before.

Cruises can be expensive, or they can be a great way to travel for cheap. Below are 4 ways to save money on a cruise:

1. Use rewards points.

Rewards points are my favorite way to get a trip for free. You may be able to book your cruise on points, and you may be able to book your flight to the cruise port for free as well.

With our cruise, we were able to get one roundtrip flight for free. We didn’t have enough points for the second roundtrip flight because we booked the trip at the very last minute.

2. Be flexible with your dates.

Being flexible with when you go on your vacation can usually save you hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars. A difference of just one week can mean a significant amount of savings, so it is something to keep in mind.

You might try searching for different dates for the same cruise that you are interested in going on. You will most likely find at least some what of a price difference and this may help you save money.

It is also important to also think about the weather of where you are going to. Saving money might not be worth it if you have horrible weather on your trip.

3. Skip the specialty restaurants.

I know that some people are completely against this, but if you are looking to save money on your trip then you may try skipping the specialty restaurants on board your cruise ship where you have to pay money to eat. There are usually plenty of amazing restaurants on the ship to eat, so why pay?

We tried a few of the specialty restaurants, and I won’t lie, they were amazingly delicious, but they were also expensive to the point where it wasn’t really worthwhile.

4. Stay in an interior room.

For me, I am a room snob. I like to be comfortable and I like to spend time in my room. I know, I am boring. However, I usually work a lot on vacation so I need a room that is comfortable. Because of that, we had a balcony room.

However, if we would have chosen an interior room, I believe the price probably would have saved us a thousand dollars or more. Interior rooms are usually very cheap, and there are many cruises out there that offer interior rooms for crazy cheap prices such as $199 per person for a 4 day Caribbean cruise. Can’t really beat that!

Have you ever gone on a cruise? How much money did you spend?

 

The image above was taken of a cruise ship next to ours at a port in Mexico.