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12 Ways to Save Money (And Have Fun!) on Your Next Road Trip

I recently took a road trip from Dallas to Albuquerque to Colorado Springs to Denver – and back to Dallas. It was 1,925 miles and 29 hours of pure asphalt that took us through plains, mountains, and prairies.

I spent time preparing for the week-long journey. And figured how to save cash and have fun on the way. Because that’s a lot of time in a car!

If you don’t plan it right (or at all), you’ll likely spend too much, miss cool opportunities, or generally have a miserable time. And no one wants that. 😾

ways to save on road trips

A little planning = big savings and fun on your road trip

Here are tips to make your next road trip smooth as asphalt.

12 Ways to Save on Road Trips

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What’s the Break Even Point for Chase Sapphire Cards?

How much do you have to spend each year for a Chase Sapphire annual fee to be worth it? The answer depends on:

  • Whether you spend in the bonus categories often
  • How much you value Chase Ultimate Rewards points
chase sapphire annual fee

It depends on your spending habits, but let’s take a looky-loo

I’ll break down spending in 3 scenarios:

  • Half bonus/half non-bonus spending with points worth their base rate for each card
  • Half bonus/half non-bonus spending with points worth 2 cents each
  • All bonus spending with points worth 2 cents each

Boom!

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

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PV PLZ: Review of My Free Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

Still reeling about the completely relaxing Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarata. Now that I’m back in Dallas, I can start to process it.

The 3 nights I spent here were completely free. I used 60,000 Hyatt points for a stay that retailed for $1,300+ for the dates I was there.

In fact, the whole trip only cost me $90 out-of-pocket. Here’s how I booked it.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

View of the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta from the beach

Back to the hotel!

PV PLZ trip report index

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

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PV PLZ: How I Booked a $2,000+ Mexican Vacation for $90 With Points

A couple of days ago, I returned from a MUCH needed break slash reset in sunny Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico. A friend and I stayed 3 nights Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. She flew down from Chicago. And I flew from Dallas.

I only paid $90 to watch the sunset in Puerto Vallarta for 3 nights

Out-of-pocket, I paid $90 in addition to 60,000 Hyatt points for the room and 15,000 British Airways Avios points for award flights on American. Here’s how I did it!

PV PLZ trip report index

Get me to Mexico!

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, New Mexico

New Mexico is pure magic. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.

Every time I’m there, I feel deep soul-healing. Those high desert landscapes are what my soul looks like, I think. I’m so completely at peace with the mountains and wind and all of it.

So I was definitely looking forward to staying at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, nestled 25 minutes north of Albuquerque and 45 minutes south of Santa Fe in northern New Mexico.

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Review

This little sign is where the magic began

Two friends and I drove here non-stop from Dallas – a solid 10-hour drive. We left at 4am, stopping only in Amarillo for an early lunch. A few hours later, we drove through the cute town of Bernalillo and into the 550 acres of the resort, technically located in Santa Ana Pueblo.

This is a wonderful, special resort. I highly recommend staying here if you ever get the opportunity. Here’s my experience and how I stayed for completely free! 

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Review – Arrival and check-in

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Use Earny for Automated Visa and MasterCard Price Protection

I wrote about Trim and Paribus to track price changes and get a refund from merchants. Now there’s Earny, which tracks price changes and uses price protection from many bank Visa and MasterCard credit cards – and files the claims for you automatically. In return, they take 25% of the bounty.

earny app

Earny automates price protection with several bank Visas and MasterCards

I shop online a lot with my Citi AT&T Access More card (no longer available although you can still product change to it). All Citi personal cards come with Citi Price Rewind, which puts the onus on you to file a claim if you find a lower price. But now Earny automates the work. After you link your cards, nothing else is required to file a claim when Earny finds a lower price.

If you shop online a lot, this could save you big bucks!

What’s Earny?

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My Free Anniversary Night in Downtown Austin – Thanks to the Chase Hyatt Card!

Say what you will about Chase, but their hotel cards that come with a free anniversary night are worth every penny.

And fortunately, some of them are still accessible even if you’re over 5/24, including:

I wrote how I got $500 in value from the Chase IHG card earlier this year. And I’ve used my Chase Hyatt free night certificate at the Hyatt Centric in New Orleans and the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia. I also wrote about 5 worthwhile Category 4 hotels where you can get lot of bang for your Hyatt free night cert.

hyatt anniversary night

A view of Texas hill country – paid for with my Hyatt free night certificate

And this past weekend, I got a stay worth ~$284 at the Hyatt Place Austin Downtown (full review soon!) in exchange for my $75 annual fee.

With values like this, a card with a valuable free night each cardmember year is a no-brainer to keep year after year. Especially when you can get outsized value in popular areas like downtown Austin.

A cute lil weekend trip

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5 Ways to Earn Points for Airbnb Stays (10% Back at Least!)

My friend Meghan asked if I knew of any ways to save on an Airbnb booking. I gave the obvious one – get $40 off a $75+ stay with a new account.

New to Airbnb? Save $40 off your first $75+ stay

Most everyone already has an Airbnb account by now. But if you don’t, here’s my link if you’d like to sign up (and I’ll get a $20 travel credit as well).

That’s honestly the biggest savings. Still, there are other ways to get a return on your Airbnb stay: earn points or miles for it. Depending how you like to redeem them, you can get big value by stacking a few of the methods I’ll tell you about.

Lezz begin, shall ve?

5 ways to earn points and miles for Airbnb stays

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I Had to Use (My Chase Visa’s) Primary Rental Car Insurance – and Saved $692!

It finally happened – I had to file a claim to use my card’s collision damage waiver benefit. I knew the day would arrive sooner or later.

After I hiked down from Granite Park Chalet, I found my rental car had a little *DING* on the front passenger side door. The parking lot was packed, and it was obvious someone parked too close and opened their door too hard into my rental car. It was nearly imperceptible to the point where I thought about not saying anything about it.

Primary Rental Car Insurance

See that little dent? Yeah, I nearly didn’t either… *grumble*

But, I was responsible and filed a proper report when I returned the car. I wasn’t expecting to ever hear anything about it again. Until one day, I got a random call saying they filed a claim against me. In a near-panic, I filed my own claim online through Chase in just a few minutes.

THANK GODS I waived the CDW and put the charge on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Taking those small steps saved me nearly $700 – for a little ding on a car door.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Primary Rental Car Insurance

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Is the Chase British Airways Card Worth It for 50,000 Points? Maybe.

Also see:

The tiered sign-up bonus for the Chase British Airways card ends on October 5th, 2017 – in one week! Until then, you can earn:

  • 50,000 British Airways Avios points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • An additional 25,000 British Airways Avios points after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening
  • A further 25,000 British Airways Avios points after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios

Committing to spend $20,000 on a single card is a lot to ask. And it’s certainly not for most peeps.

chase british airways card

Fly to Amsterdam with British Airways Avios points and ride a bike

But it can be worth it to see this as a 50,000 point sign-up offer to spend $3,000 within the first 3 months – that’s much more reasonable. And forget about the other tiers.

50,000 points for that amount of spending it a respectable sign-up bonus. Especially because this card is NOT subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.

And a thank you to Ben for helping to unravel the numbers of this deal even more!

Pick up 50,000 British Airways Avios points

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Should You Dump Your Car If You Have Premium Card Travel Credits?

It occurred to me I only drive for a handful of reasons:

  • To go to the gym
  • To drop the dog off before I travel
  • Costco runs every ~6 weeks
  • To visit nearby places, like Fort Worth

Most of the time I walk or use Uber/Lyft. Because if I intend to drink, I don’t want to deal with parking (and possibly having to pay for it) or of course driving back unsafely. And I live so close to many of the places I frequent that I can walk.

I realized, surprisingly, there are lots of peeps in Dallas who don’t have cars. And I I was shocked by how extremely walkable certain parts of the city really are.

dump car uber lyft

Lookit all my Lyft credits

I’ve also been using the $325 travel credit from my US Bank Altitude Reserve card for Lyft rides lately (I prefer Lyft for many reasons). Then it hit me that I could subsidize $825 in Uber and Lyft rides thanks to travel credits of 3 of my premium cards. It got me thinking – are those credits enough to consider getting rid of my car?

$825 in Uber and Lyft rides from 3 cards

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Get 6X British Airways Avios Points Everywhere on $20K in Spend – Why I Caved

You might’ve heard a version of the infamous British Airways 100,000 points deal is back.

It’s a beast of a deal – there’s no doubt about that. And I mean that in a good way AND a bad way.

chase british airways 100,000

Maybe I’ll use my British Airways Avios to visit these ragtag streets in Barcelona again

There are many cons to accept with this deal: the minimum spending, the materiality of the points themselves, and a gigantic black hole of opportunity cost. But let’s call a spade a spade here: at this point I’m taking what I can get.

I hated this card. Now I’m crawling back on hands and knees. My, how the winds have shifted

And 100,000 of any kind of points is nothing to sniff at. So I got the Chase British Airways card again – even after I brutally dumped it a little over 2 years ago.

A hard look at this 100K offer, OK

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