Recently I came across one of the best ways to travel in college while never paying for airfare. That is by applying for and using travel credit cards. I came across this concept from an article that discussed Nathan Lundquist a senior at Auburn who has payed his tuition with credit cards for his entire college career and has been able to take free trips across the globe. You may feel skeptical about this or think that it is too good to be true, but I promise you it is as good as it seems!
At university, I have always paid for my tuition in cash, up front, at the beginning of the semester. I understand that not everyone has this luxury but if you do, you might be missing out on some serious ways to earn free cash. Credit card companies are offering some serious bonus offers for new applicants and if you are smart, you might never have to pay for airfare again.
The spring semester of graduate school is going to cost me $6,700 in tuition. However, I am going to pay this off with two different travel reward credit cards. Then pay the cards off right away and in full. If you cannot afford to pay your tuition or the cards off in full, this is not a smart strategy as you will end up paying interest which can offset the rewards.
I recently received the Chase Sapphire Reserve which comes with a hefty $450 annual fee. However, I will get two $300 travel credits in the first year and 100,000 reward points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Those 100,000 points can be worth as much as $1,500 in free airfare if you book through Chase Rewards. Also, the card gives you 1x points on all purchases and 3x on dining and travel purchases. Therefore, I am going to get $40 for paying my tuition with the card in addition to the reward points and travel credits. Or if your like The Points Guy, you could redeem those credits for two first class tickets from Bali to New York, a $7,216 value! Overall, the total value after paying off my tuition is $2,140 in travel credit! Not to mention I will be living it up in free VIP Airport Lounges as one of the cards perks.
However, if you do not want to pay an annual fee for a credit card, another good pick is the Barclay Arrival Plus which gives you a $500 travel credit after spending $3,000 in the first three months and the $89 annual fee is waived the first year. I am using this card to pay the remainder of my spring semester tuition. In addition, with the Barclay Arrival Plus, you get 2% back for all purchases. Therefore, I will get $560 in free travel after paying $3,000 of my tuition on this card.
Overall, after paying my spring semester tuition on two different travel rewards cards, I will have $2,700 in travel credit to use for my future trips from a $450 investment. Personally, I am going to use this to book at least four, round-trip airfare tickets! You could also use the travel credits to pay for hotels, hostels, and transportation.
In the past, I received the Delta Gold SkyMiles Card which came with a 60,000 mile bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months. 60,000 miles is equal to $600 in free delta airfare. I am using those 60,000 miles to fly round trip for free to Cancun and Las Vegas and I still have $150 left in airfare credit. All for free.
You might think applying for multiple credit cards will damage your credit score. However, this is not always the case. Two of the biggest factors that affect your credit is the length you have had available credit and the increases or decreases in your credit limit. Therefore, I would recommend applying for a no-annual fee credit card and keep it open for the rest of your life. I opened the Discover It card when I was 17 and it comes with no annual fee and 5% cash back in rotating categories throughout the year. There is also the Discover It Student Card which is also a great choice!
My credit score as of 12/27/2016 is 780 which represents a very dependable borrower. I have been able to take advantage of these offers and still maintain a very strong credit score. It is possible and I urge you to see how you can manage to never pay for airfare again by simply changing how you pay your tuition!