Here’s How I Turned a College Tuition Payment Into an Easy 160,000 Miles & Points – Worth $1,300+ in Travel

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Here’s How I Turned a College Tuition Payment Into an Easy 160,000 Miles & Points – Worth $1,300+ in Travel

Brett HolzhauerHere’s How I Turned a College Tuition Payment Into an Easy 160,000 Miles & Points – Worth $1,300+ in TravelMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

For those paying college tuition, it can be a large investment and burden on your finances.  I’m currently buried in student debt and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  However, now that I’ve taught my wife how to earn millions of miles and points with travel rewards credit cards, she is using it to her advantage!

We were able to use her tuition bill to earn big bonuses on 2 credit cards, IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.  I estimate the Delta miles & IHG points she earned to collectively be worth $1,300+ in travel!

All Those College Tuition Payments May As Well Be Earning You Some Big Travel – My Wife’s Tuition Earned Us Delta Miles & IHG Points

How (And Why) to Pay College Tuition With Travel Credit Cards

Many colleges and universities do accept credit cards to pay for tuition.  However, be wary that they will charge a processing fee, including my alma mater Arizona State University (go Sun Devils!).  If your institution charges a fee, it may actually still work out in your favor.  Be sure to crunch the numbers ahead of time.

Some Colleges Will Allow You to Pay Tuition With a Credit Card, But They’ll Tack on Extra Fees for the Privilege

My wife is attending the University of Utah (go Utes!), and her tuition for this semester was ~$5,000.  Luckily, the University of Utah does not charge a processing or service fee.  So it was a perfect opportunity to pick up some points and miles!

She applied for both the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express ahead of time and was approved for both.  At the time she applied she was able to earn a bonus of 100,000 IHG points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening on her Chase IHG card.  But that offer is no longer available, now you can earn an 80,000 IHG-point bonus with the card after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

And her AMEX Delta Gold card earned her a bonus of 60,000 Delta miles after meeting the minimum spending requirements.  But again that offer is no longer publicly available.  With the card’s current offer you can earn 30,000 Delta miles after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

BAM, easy points!

One point to note is that these charges may get flagged as fraudulent by your credit card provider because of the large transaction.  To save time and hassle at your university registrar, call ahead and let your credit card issuer know you will be making a big payment.

Bottom Line

While this isn’t paying for every expense we’ll have on our vacation, covering the two largest expenses (flights and hotels) is a great way to start traveling for less!

Have you ever paid for your tuition with a travel credit card (if not, here are the best ones)?  What was your experience like?  Let’s hear it in the comments!

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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Want even more flexibility? Pay with Miles is a Card Member feature that gives you the option to redeem miles for all or part of the price of your tickets on Delta.com.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I have paid college tuition for my children using travel credit cards knowing that I could meet minimum spend requirements. I opened 2-3 cards every 4-5 months on cards with increased sign on bonuses. I was somewhat new to million mile secrets and although I thought is was possible to use credit cards for almost free travel, I never imagined I would have opened up as many cards as I have. A big thank you to Daraius, Emily, and Million Mile Secrets for all you taught me!

Where was that photo taken? Alice Lake?

That looks like Pacific Northwests all the way!

how does that equate out to 160k miles?