How To Travel More While Spending Less

March 2023 ISSUE March 1, 2023
Personal Finances General/Other
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Travel costs have been rising rapidly over the past year due to high inflation. Fortunately, credit card companies are now competing intensely for your business, releasing brand-new cards with incredible cash back perks and easy-to-earn sign up bonuses. That’s great news.

However, it also means that if you’re still using the same credit card, you could be missing out on hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in benefits each year. Below are our best strategies to stretch your travel dollars.

  1. Best cash back credit card (for all purchases) – Wells Fargo Active Cash® Visa Card is the best in class in this category, providing an unlimited 2% cash back rewards rate on all purchases. Moreover, it offers $200 cash back after spending $1,000 on purchases within three months of signing up. Also, it provides a generous 15 month 0% introductory APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers to wipe out finance charges if you’re currently carrying a card balance. What’s more, all these benefits come with a $0 annual fee. Go to to sign up.
  2. Best sign-up bonuses (cash) – American Express Blue Cash Preferred® provides new cardholders with a $300 statement credit if you make $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of signing up. Also, you can earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 of annual purchases at supermarkets, 3% on gas and travel, and 1% on everything else. These benefits will easily offset the $95 annual fee. Go to to sign up.
  3. Best sign-up bonuses (miles) – Capital One Venture® Rewards Card ($95 annual fee) currently offers 75,000 miles for new cardholders who spend at least $4,000 during the first three months after signup. Plus, earn unlimited 2x miles on all purchases. Go to to sign up.

When you earn travel rewards through credit card use, it’s important to remember that the purpose of the card is “free travel.” So, maintain a mentality of “earn and burn,” and use your points quickly before they become devalued.

Want To Fly First Class?

The best resource to save on airfares is through Google Flights. Go to to check it out. Also, one secret—while it usually costs as much as 5-10x the price of an economy ticket to fly first class, it usually requires only 2x as many miles to book a first-class ticket, so try that first.

Don’t Want To Use Your Miles?

Buy your ticket in economy class and request an upgrade as soon as you receive your flight check-in notice when the airline still has the most business class seats available. If successful, the upgrade cost is relatively cheap, often providing savings of more than 60% compared to what you would have spent for a first-class ticket.

Hotel Savings

Sometimes you’ll find the best bargains on hotel rooms or other lodging if you wait until the last minute and book on, or for vacation rentals, to score the most discounted rates. Then, call the hotel directly to see if it will match that rate and possibly provide more favorable room options, an upgrade, or free perks.

Want to stay up-to-date on how to gain the biggest benefit from your credit card reward points? Subscribe to The Points Guy, a free digital newsletter, for all the latest changes in credit card reward programs. Don’t want to do the research yourself? Use a concierge service and let them sort through the maze of rules to snare the best deal for your trip, at a cost of only $300.

Make It Tax-Deductible

Want to slash another 40% off your already trimmed down travel costs? Use 3 strategies to ensure that all travel is practice-related (tax-deductible) to improve the profitability of your practice and eliminate nondeductible personal travel costs. The first strategy is to coordinate your family vacations around CE meetings.

Where that’s not possible, contact a dental colleague practicing in your desired destination to arrange a visit. From a non-tax standpoint, some of the very best ideas for improving practice productivity and profitability have come from visiting offices in non-competitive areas. To properly document this, send a letter confirming your appointment, spend at least four hours on a particular day making the visit, and follow-up with a thank you letter outlining what you learned from the experience.

A third strategy is to conduct a Board of Directors meeting at your desired destination. To document this, have a written agenda of corporate business items to be discussed, spend at least four hours on that particular day in business discussions between the directors, and thereafter document the meeting with appropriate corporate minutes reflecting the items discussed and actions taken or planned.

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