I set out a few years back to have an awesome adventure in our nation’s capital…without spending money. I knew I wanted to get away and show my son a place he had never seen, while not compromising our fun. First, I looked up the amount of credit card reward points I had across all of my accounts. Since I know the value of reward points, I pay everything possible with a credit card.
Imagine how many points you would accrue if you earn one point for each dollar. Many credit card companies offer bonuses when you pay your household bills with their cards. So, do a little research to find the best bang for your bucks. Also, paying bills with a credit card takes discipline. You must know that you can and will pay this bill in full each month. Otherwise, the finance charges will cost you more than whatever you spend the points on, and it will be a waste. You also don’t want to hurt your credit score by placing a large balance on your card. Many experts believe you should never use more than 30% of your credit line.
With careful planning, I had accrued over 200,000 points across several cards. Now it was time for me to see how I could redeem the points. With one company, I was able to reserve a lovely hotel room at the Marriott Wardman Park near Connecticut Avenue. Because we were traveling for Mother’s Day, the hotel had a promotion which offered complimentary parking with in and out privileges and free in room movies with snacks. Score!
Next, I wanted to purchase gift cards so that I didn’t spend my own cash on food. I looked first at chain restaurants which would likely be in the DC area. Then I looked through AMEX’s rewards options for local offers. I was able to secure gift cards to local eateries. I redeemed points for a gift card to a local bagel shop and a seafood restaurant. There truly were endless redemption options.
Now that we paid for our room and ate great meals using points, it was now time to soak up DC. We went to all the usual destinations. We were even lucky enough to be outside the White House when the President arrived. My Mom (pictured below) swears President Obama waved at her.
With the 4th of July right around the corner, it is a great time to plan a trip, possibly to D.C. I think road trips are an awesome opportunity for families to bond and see the beauty of our country. D.C. could also be one of the best places to visit for the favorite holiday of the summer. There are many hotels to choose from, no matter what budget, but take my advice and look into redeeming some of your accrued credit card points.