How I Earned $2,979 Worth of Travel by Putting an Engagement Ring on a Credit Card

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INSIDER SECRET: Credit card welcome bonuses are the fastest way to earn free travel. If you’re a big spender or have a big purchase coming up, your free travel opportunities are practically endless.

Do any of these scenarios describe you?

  • You’re in the market for new appliances
  • You’re about to make a down payment on a car
  • You’re renovating your home
  • You’ve recently popped the question

I’ll tell you now, if the answer is yes, it’s time to open a travel credit card. You can get thousands of dollars in value just from opening a card and using those big purchases to earn gigantic welcome bonuses.

My wife and I were married a couple months ago. I opened a card before I purchased her ring and used that spending to earn a welcome bonus worth $2,979 in travel. I’ll show you the four easy steps I followed to do it.

Weddings come with an inordinate amount of expenses, so get some free travel with the right card bonus. (Photo by Lauren Day/Lauren Day Photography)

Get Free Travel by Opening a Credit Card Before Big Purchases

First, let me say that if you can’t afford a big purchase, don’t put it on a credit card. You don’t want a balance hanging on a travel credit card, because they have laughably steep interest rates.

If you can pay your balance within a month, your wildest dreams are about to come true.

1. Assess Your Travel Goals

My wife and I are traveling to South Africa later this year. By the time we return home, we’ll have circumnavigated the globe by flying east. Our trip will include the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The difficult part is deciding what we most want to do.

We could:

  • Spend time in Israel (my absolute favorite place on earth)
  • Explore the glitz of Singapore
  • Book a hotel stay in the stunning Maldives

We’ve also got plenty of other less glamorous, but worthwhile travel goals:

  • Attend a seminar in Chicago
  • Visit family in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving

2. Find the Cards That’ll Save You the Most Money

Based on the list above, I can decide which credit card(s) will help me fulfill those goals.

For example, if we decide to go to Israel, we would open a credit card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. You can use the welcome bonus toward nearly any travel purchase. I could easily get five free nights at a high-quality Airbnb in the heart of Jerusalem.

I decided to pursue a free hotel stay in the Maldives, so I opened a Marriott credit card. Marriott has some unbelievable hotels in the Maldives.

3. Open the Card That Saves the Most Money

I opened the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (the offer was 100,000 points after spending $4,500 within the first three months of account opening. This offer is no longer available and is not as generous now).

We’ll be staying at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, which consistently sells for ~$1,300 per night. Thanks to a deal from earlier this year (you can subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss such things), I estimate that earning this welcome bonus will save me $2,979 on our hotel stay.

To be fair, I never would have paid $1,300 per night for any hotel room. This isn’t money I had planned to spend anyway, so it’s not exactly “savings.”

4. Swipe Your Card for Your Big Purchase

Now for the easy part. Once you receive your card, put your big purchase on the card. You should have your miles or points within a month

(Photo by Lauren Day/Lauren Day Photography)

I used the new card to purchase my wife’s engagement ring. I earned the bonus straightaway, and I paid the card off.

This was money I planned to spend anyway. If I had just placed my purchase on a credit card I already had, this trip to the Maldives would be out of the question. I received 1,100% more value by opening a card before making the purchase. It’s like I received $2,979 off the engagement ring toward an amazing honeymoon.

Bottom Line

Rich people aren’t the only ones who can afford to globe trot. Anyone with a large upcoming expense can do it, too.

If you’re anticipating a big purchase in the near future, open a travel credit card first. It’s an effortless way to make hundreds (even thousands) of dollars. Just be sure you’ve got the funds to pay your bill in full and avoid interest payments.

This is just one example of an easy way to free travel. There are countless others, which you can learn about if you subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll shoot you an email when we see an travel deal we can’t ignore.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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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