Travel Hacking my way to Denver and beyond with Credit Cards

Next Sunday my best friend and I will be departing from Baltimore, Maryland and catching a direct flight to Denver, Colorado. I wanted to share how I am taking her with me on a work trip and achieved the Companion Pass to fly her for FREE during the busiest travel time of the year.

A few months ago my boss asked me if I’d be interested in attending a trade show in Denver. I quickly realized this was an opportunity to be seized. Since my company would be paying for my flight and lodging, I could find a few days of PTO and extend my trip to explore more adventurous activities during my downtime.

I was out in Denver last year for a Location Indie workshop. I’d enjoyed downtown but I’d wished I had more time to explore the nature and outdoor activities. I’m so excited to go back and do more hiking, and we are going skydiving!!

I’d been using credit card points to earn free flights since last year when I learned more about the “game” of the points. I’d first signed up for the Capital One Venture Card, which allowed me to achieve 30,000 points by spending $1,000 in three months.

I just used it for several purchases that were larger and filling up my gas tank, and I within two months, I had achieved the bonus, allowing me to travel to Austin, Texas for about $46 in November.

The second card I used was the Chase United Explorer card, which had a higher spending threshold ($3,000) but significantly more points, 60,000.  I used these points once achieved for my flight to Mexico earlier this year. I paid about $87 for my flight to Querétaro, Mexico.

The added perks also included being able to check out the lounge with my complimentary guest pass! When I was at the airport while on an extended layover I was able to enjoy comfortable seating, fruit-infused water, wraps, cookies, coffee, tea, beer, and more! It was perfect!


(Keep in mind, I’m paying off balances, not just racking up debt, that would defeat the purpose.)

After the success I had with these, I was ready to work on ways to achieve the coveted Companion Pass for 2019. This pass allows a ticket holder to purchase two tickets for the price of one. In January I saw a promo that advertized the companion pass was easier than ever to achieve this year with just one card! I was approved immediately for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card and started using that for purchases to achieve my bonus of 30,000 points and the companion pass. This had a higher threshold as well, at $4,000. But I managed to spend and pay it off and achieved my pass by April!


Finally, the most recent card I signed up for was the Chase Sapphire card because there was a bonus of 60,000 points when I achieved the spend of $4,000. The dental work that I’ve recently had done, helped me spend that quickly. I now intend to use this for my hotel stay on my trip to New Mexico and Arizona and intend to use the points I have from my Southwest card, as well as switching my companion to my mother.

Check out these awesome cards and see which one is best for you to achieve your free flight or hotel stay!

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