So if you read Part Two, you’ll know we used a mix of sign up bonuses from credit cards and some good old fashioned hustle to build up enough points for this trip, and you can too! It takes a little bit of time and effort, but anybody with good credit can use these tools to their advantage and travel for free!
How would you like to stay in Cape Town for five nights for free?
Last week we stayed at the Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge by Marriott, located in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area of Cape Town. This is one of the nicest areas in town, centrally located to most tourist attractions and right on the water. The hotel normally costs about $175 / night, but if you’re paying in points it’s only 10,000 points a night. One of the nice things about booking award stays with Marriott is you get the fifth night free, so five nights at this hotel would only cost 40,000 points. Pretty soon the hotel will be moving up a category so it will cost 65,000 points for five nights, but that’s still a great deal considering the value you’re getting out of it.
There are other Marriott hotels within Cape Town that are even fewer points a night, but are not in as good of a location as this one. Still though, Uber is cheap and readily available no matter where you are.
You can earn 80,000 Marriott points just by signing up for the Marriott credit card by Chase and spending $3,000 within the first three months. That will still leave you at least 18,000 points (15,000 left from the bonus + 3,000 points from the $3,000 spend ) . You could use those to book a night in one of the two beautiful wine regions in the area : Stellenbosch or Franschoek. Hotels in either town will cost you 10,000 points a night and are just a 45 minute drive from Cape Town.
If you wanted to shorten your stay in Cape Town to save on points, you could extend your travels by adding nights along the Eastern Cape, driving the Garden Route. We’ll do this after we leave Cape Town, staying in Mossel Bay and Knysna, both of which are 10,000 points/night.
If you’re a couple, you’re in an even better position because you both can get the card and have twice the number of points! How about adding a few nights at Kruger National Park, the biggest and best park in the entire country? Cash rates for the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate are $250-350 / night, but it’s only 10,000 points a night if you pay with points.
I know I’m going off on a tangent, but this stuff excites me and it should excite you too! If you’re a couple and each get the Chase Marriott card, or you’re a solo traveler and you got the Chase Marriott Personal and the Chase Marriott business card, you could have a trip that looks something like this…
- 5 nights at the Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge Cape Town 65,000 points (~$875)
- 2 nights at the Protea Hotel Mossel Bay 20,000 points (~$350)
- 3 nights at the Protea Hotel Knysna Quays 30,000 points (~$350)
- 2 nights at the Protea Hotel Port Elizabeth Marine 20,000 points (~$300) Total Cost : 135,000 points. Total Value approximately $1875
You’ll still have 40,000 points left over to stay maybe a couple nights in Jo’Burg or make your way to Kruger National Park for a few nights. No matter where you go, you’re in for one hell of a trip! I’m only using South Africa as an example because we’re here now and have booked these exact hotels, but you could do this just about anywhere in the world.
The point of explaining all of this isn’t to persuade you to fly to Cape Town and drive the Garden Route ( though you absolutely should! ) , but to give you a little insight into our thought process when booking trips.
Our Final Itinerary
And this my friends is our final itinerary, complete with point breakdowns, redemption values, etc. It may seem a little confusing if you don’t understand some of the lingo, but the most important thing for you to see is the numbers on the bottom. If we each paid cash for this trip, it would have cost just under $45,000 for everything. By using points and miles to reduce our costs, we only had to spend $4045 each, saving us a combined $36909!!!
Of course this trip took a lot more than just credit cards and sign up bonuses to pull off. It took a lot of side hustles and patience, but anyone can do it if they’re willing to put in the time. I promise you once you start, you’ll ask yourself what took you so long.
I tell people all the time, if you want to get into travel hacking feel free to shoot us an e-mail or send us a message on Facebook. The advice is 100% free and the only thing we ask is if you sign up for a card we recommend, that you use our referral links. It won’t cost you anything and it helps us immensely.
We’ve been doing this for about four years now, and it has changed the way we travel in so many ways. I never thought I would fly business class ever, let alone on so many flights in the last few years. $500 hotel rooms? Never! Now, it’s absolutely something we can (and have) done. The choice is yours, but for me it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
The Marriott card is just one of many examples I could show you on why travel hacking is worth your time and will change your travel lives. For more info, just ask!
If this example seemed like something you’re interested in you can get the card through us! On top of the initial sign up bonus, you’ll receive a free night at any category 1-5 hotel on the anniversary of signing up. Its $85 a year, but you’ll make more than that back on the free night alone.
To sign up for the card, use this link here to help us out!
What do you want travel hacking to help you achieve? Fancy hotels? First class flights? Let us know in the comments below!