Photo Jan 15, 5 58 21 PM.jpg

hey there!

Welcome to my home away from home. I'm sharing my life in San Diego, and beyond. I hope you're here to stay awhile!      ~ caitlin

Travel Credit Card Tips & Tricks

Travel Credit Card Tips & Tricks






Are you interested in getting a travel credit card, but are overwhelmed/ intimidated by ALL the options? Do you currently have a credit card, but aren’t sure if you’re maximizing your points?

I’m going to tell you a few things I've learned this year with my FIRST travel credit card, Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Before we get into tips/hacks, I by no means encourage anyone to get a credit card who doesn’t understand how they work. Here are the top rules of responsible credit card usage that ARE MY BIBLE (I’ll remind you of these at the end)!

  1. NEVER buy anything you can’t pay cash for right then and there. EVER.

    • It’s simple! If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

  2. NEVER max out your card.

    • You only want to keep a balance that is 50% or LESS of your credit limit. If your limit is $2,000, and you spend $2,000, it doesn't look good to the credit card companies. You want to keep some type of balance (but obviously pay it off) without maxing it out.

  3. ALWAYS pay your balance, every month, on time.

    • This tells the credit card companies that you will borrow their money and pay them back ASAP. This helps your credit, allows you to have higher limits in the future, and avoids interest charges.

  4. NEVER use your credit card to make ends meet.

    • If the reason you want a credit card is to help you out of a bad situation, this will only make it worse.

  5. Check your credit card statement REGULARLY.

    • Make sure you are aware of your spending and any fraudulent activities. Credit cards don’t require pin codes, and can be used anywhere.

  6. DO make purchases you ALREADY make.

    • Make purchases on things that you would be buying ANYWAY. Don’t change your lifestyle by living above your means just because you have new plastic!

  7. Extend your credit limit annually or bi-annually!

    • It doesn't cost anything or harm you by doing this EVER. If you only get approved for a $2,000 credit limit, in two years it could be extended to +$15,000 if you use it responsibly. My credit limit has tripled in a year because I use it correctly. I have the same spending habits I had a year ago, but my limit keeps extending.

    • EXAMPLE: Let’s say I only spend $20 on my credit card each month. Last year my limit was $100. I consistently spent and paid off that $20 each month. The next year I ask them to extend my limit. They see I have a good reputation, so they extend my limit to $500, then $1,000 the following year. I’m still only spending $20 a month on my credit card (the gap keeps getting bigger). This practice is crucial when you want to make a big purchase in the future. (see below when we bought our jeep!) Just because the credit limit is there NEVER means you should be using it!


A year ago I decided to get a credit card, and was overwhelmed with the options (which is why I’m sure you’re here). I did research on the internet, asked co-workers, friends, family; I dug deep, so you don’t have to. I didn’t want anything complicated, with a ton of fees, or a secret interest rate in the fine print. I just wanted something simple, easy, idiot proof (lol), and R-E-W-A-R-D-I-N-G! I’m writing this to tell you that if you are considering an entry-level credit card, Chase Sapphire Preferred is your answer (it was mine!).

They kept it simple, and easy to understand.

Current offerings when you use my referral link: New customers earn 50,000 BONUS points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. — that's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® on top of the points you already get for each purchase.


Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 11.32.46 AM.png


💸  TRAVEL: My points are worth 25% more in travel redemption. This means that if I have 25,000 points ( = $500) sitting on my account, and decide to use them towards travel, Chase will recognize the points at 25% more (31,250 points, or $625)! I always use my points for travel because that’s where this Chase Sapphire Preferred is most maximized.

💸  SHOPPING HACK: PAY ATTENTION… Another way to earn extra points for travel/shopping is by purchasing your flights, hotel, shopping online, THROUGH your Chase Sapphire Preferred portal. EXAMPLE: I use a general travel site, I will only get +1 Point per $1 spent. HERE’S THE HACK: by purchasing a flight through my chase portal, I usually get EXTRA points. This goes for almost other shopping you do! Shop on AMAZON? Sears? Do it all through your portal first, to get points on top of points. DOUBLE DIP AND MAXIMIZE THAT ISH! Most people don’t know this feature exists, or take the time to go through the portal :)

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 7.18.03 PM.png

Check that out! If I was going to shop at Neiman Marcus, their offering 3 PTS per $1 spent, and Kiehl’s is offering 6 PTS per $1 through the portal. If you’re an online shopper ANYWAY, be sure to check your portal, first. There’s a lot of other familiar stores like and Levi’s, Home Depot, etc.

💸  ALWAYS PAY AT THE RESTAURANT!! Out with a group of friends? EVEN BETTER! I always snatch the bill and make everyone Venmo me :) So many benefits… you get extra dining points, it saves the waitress a headache splitting the checks, AND I get to make sure he/she gets 20% gratuity (gratuity counts towards your points at dining! :)

  • This can be applied to many things! At this time in life, I’m constantly going on destination birthday trips and bachelorettes. I always offer to book the hotel, concert tickets, restaurants, airbnb’s, etc. so I get the points on these big purchases. There is a sense of responsibility that comes with it (tracking everyone down to pay you), but that little work is worth it when you get kicked back a bunch of points :)

💸  PUT EVERYTHING ON YOUR CREDIT CARD… as long as you can pay cash for it right then and there! Start off by putting your normal, non-negotiable expenses on your credit card. You are already paying for gas, groceries, a gym membership, you might as well be getting credit for it! Anything you have drafting from your debit card, or things you ALREADY spend money on. Keep it simple before going for it (I currently ONLY use my credit card. I refuse to use my debit card for anything. now).


Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 12.04.38 PM.png


“…I negotiated a credit card fee reduction my second year and Right before m third year I downgraded that credit card to a freedom card which has no cost and opened up the reserve to get even more points”

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 12.01.21 PM.png


“It’s my favorite card so far! Made this trip (traveling for a year around the world) so much better for us!… get into the lounges (at the airport), it’s the BEST! That’s the card I used to get priority pass lounge access! Go to the benefits page on Chase website. It’s instant, quick, and easy.”

@joannabertram : “Shop around for credit cars! I have different cards that give me different different amount of points for different things. EX: I have a credit card I only use for gas bc it gives me 4% back!!! Obviously you… want to have a few & use them to buy what gives you the most points/cash back for that card… Also set up email or text purchase notifications can really help protect agains fraud. REMEMBER: Also, like most things, the right credit card combo is going to be different for different people. IT really depends on what you spend your money on.”


💸  WE PAID FOR OUR WEDDING without being in DEBT. Last year, my husband and I paid cash for our wedding. ZERO DEBT. As soon as we got engaged we started aggressively saving. Once we knew bigger purchases were in the near future, I applied for this credit card. We needed to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months to get back $1000 (promo at the time). We put everything for the wedding on the CC, and paid it off immediately!! This is a strategy we will always practice, and I encourage you to abide by. We were spending the money ANYWAY, so why not get rewarded for it? We EASILY hit our mark, and bought flights to Hawaii with the vouchers we got!

💸  SPONTANEOUSLY BOUGHT PLANE TICKETS TO JAPAN without being in DEBT. I went through the portal on, and saw that I had $200 in travel points to use. The points accumulated just by using my credit card for normal purchases at the gas station, grocery store, and my gym membership. The flights were already cheap, but I got a extra points a few ways:

1.) Used my points to get $200 off total purchase

2.) I EARNED points just by purchasing the flights on my CC

3.) I earned EXTRA points by going through the portal instead of a regular airline

4.) I still got my loyalty flyer points through American Airlines

So.. YAAAA, we’re going to JAPAN ON FRIDAY!!

💸  WE USED OUR CREDIT CARD TO PUT A DOWN PAYMENT ON OUR JEEP, then we paid it off immediately (literally swiped my card then paid it off before we walked out of the building) ZERO DEBT. Earlier in the post, I talked about credit limit extensions and how they are important over time. Because I was able to keep extending my limit, we were able to use my credit card to put the down payment of our jeep on it. Had I not practiced good responsibility and loyalty to my Credit Card company, they would have never extended my limit! This was a huge purchase we planned ahead of time; we saved, we didn't use it to make ends meet. We did it because it was strategic, and earned a SH!T ton of points this way… :)


  • Does the card you use have an annual fee?

    • YES! It was waived the first year. Now it is $95 a year. To be honest, using my card regularly for everyday expenses like gas, groceries, bills, gym membership, pays for the annual fee, easily!

  • What card do you have?


  • What in the heck did you mean when you said double dip?!

    • Going through the portal to make your purchases! You will get points for the purchases, and additional points for using the portal!

  • Any negatives to signing up?

    • I haven’t experienced any!

let’s revisit my (and hopefully one day, YOUR)…


  1. NEVER buy anything you can’t pay cash for right then and there. EVER.

  2. NEVER max out your card (this also show’s you’re responsible).

  3. ALWAYS pay your balance, every month, on time.

  4. NEVER use your credit card to make ends meet.

  5. Check your credit card statement REGULARLY.

  6. DO make purchases you ALREADY make.

  7. Extend your credit limit annually or bi-annually!

See you soon, guys! I’m off to Japan!!

xX, Caitlin

Give the Gift of Adventure!

Give the Gift of Adventure!