My Journey to Financial Independence and Retiring Early

My $100 Trip to Amsterdam

My $100 Trip To AmsterdamHi folks! My schedule has been pretty crazy lately and I haven’t found much time to write. I figured it would be easier/faster to do a report of my very first trip with credit card rewards. About 2 years ago, I went to Amsterdam for a concert for free! Well, almost, but it cost me less than $100. How, you ask? Credit card rewards! And, I also got lucky with an Expedia coupon I received in the mail. Here are the details:

Sometime in November I was looking up tour dates for my favorite singer, Maria Mena. She never tours in the US and I was thinking “maybe this time”…no dice. So I started looking up flights to the various European cities where she was touring – she’d be in Amsterdam in March, which seemed like a cool city to visit. I didn’t have the money to spend on a $600+ flight at the time, so I started looking into travel hacking. I found out for 60,000 miles on United, I could get a round trip ticket to pretty much anywhere in Europe. Sold! I purchased my concert ticket for about $50 and looked into credit card offers to get the miles I needed for the flight. Yes, I bought my concert ticket before I even had a plane ticket!

The Flight

The next day, I applied for the United MileagePlus Explorer Card in-branch at Chase and was approved. I received 50,000 points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. It actually only took me one month to reach the spend because at the time, you could reload a Target Prepaid Redcard with a credit card. So, I was essentially just shuffling money from the credit card, to this Target account, and paying off the credit card with the Target account. Unfortunately, this is no longer an option. I also received an additional 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user to the card. After a month, I had a little over 60,000 United Airlines miles in my account and I secured a plane ticket for about $60 in taxes and fees. The flight I chose arrived almost a week before the concert and flew home the day after – perfect! Because I was using points and I only had enough for myself, I went alone.

The Hotel

I waited a while to book a hotel. I was debating between staying in a hostel or getting a private room somewhere. Some time in February I got this mailer from Discover:

These promo codes were able to be used for $100 off of a 3-night hotel stay, $150 off of a 4-night hotel stay, or $200 off a 5-night hotel stay booked on I had had my Discover card for years and it was one of my daily use cards for cash back. This mailer was a nice surprise. I was able to use this to book a 7-night stay at a hostel that qualified for the promotion. Because hostels have such a cheap nightly rate, my out of pocket cost for the hotel was only $11! Discover later pulled these codes stating that they intended to have a minimum dollar spend attached to the offer, but my reservation was honored.

The Trip

This was my first time in Europe and my first time traveling alone. I had an amazing time and met some really cool people along the way. Here are some highlights from my trip:

Canal Tour
Line for the Anne Frank House
Finally making it to the door of the Anne Frank House
Hanging out at the IAmsterdam sign outside of the Rijksmuseum

Visiting a floating cat shelter – De Poezenboot
Meeting a cat with the same name as me – Icey

Eating Stroopwafels
Visiting the Van Gogh Museum
And the concert, of course!

I had a great time and did some things that I could not capture in pictures (like my Red Light District tour). Also, when traveling alone you sometimes forget to whip out your camera in the moment. The people of Amsterdam were all super friendly and pretty much everyone speaks English, which was helpful in me getting around. The bus system is awesome and easy to navigate – I felt like a pro after my week there. And for you carb-lovers, they have french fry carts everywhere, like a hot dog carts in New York City! I was basically in heaven. 🙂

Have you ever used credit card rewards to take a trip? Where did you go?

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