New Mexico for a Newbie

New Mexico for a Newbie

For some reason, maybe having to do with reading lots of westerns as a kid, New Mexico had always been on my travel bucket list. It’s off that list now because I discovered a way to get a free roundtrip ticket there using my Capital One “miles.”

Back then I was not as savvy as I am these days about using miles and points to get free trips and airfare, but this particular trip was the beginning of my education – and it’s been a real lifestyle changer.

Capital One was one of the first credit cards I signed up for, and I had no idea that I was earning points as I shopped for groceries, paid my gym membership and filled up the tank. I earned 1 point per dollar spent for all of my purchases. But if I knew then what I know now, I may have upgraded to the Capital One Venture Card so I could get 2 points for every dollar spent. Earning more points faster is the key when looking to rack up miles. I didn’t have one then. I do have one now.

Pecos National Historic Park near Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Pecos National Historic Park near Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

While I always wanted to check out Santa Fe, the southwestern state’s capital, I had no plans to go until a friend, who was going on a spiritual retreat at a center in the desert, suggested that I meet her there after she was done getting her yoga on. This way we could catch up, and have a long weekend full of exploring and really good food. I really wanted to go, but I couldn’t afford the airfare and the hotel. She suggested I check out my credit card to see if I had any miles –- so I did.

I called Capital One and found out I had points that I could use toward a travel purchase. That meant I could book a flight using any carrier or discount site like Priceline.com. I found out that I didn’t have miles, but I had points – which I love. I simply pay for tickets or hotels with my Capital One card and call them afterwards and they convert my points into a credit which can be applied directly to my purchase. You can do it all online too.

I found out that I had 41,000 miles in my Capital One  point bank, which equaled a flight costing $410. I was excited and went online to check out ticket prices. I found one for $380 on Priceline, booked it, called Capital One, got my credit and I had a free airline ticket to New Mexico. It was super easy. From that point on I was hooked on accumulating points and miles. I was seeing lots of free trips in my future.

That trip to New Mexico was really fun! We checked out the Sante Fe Opera House, San Miguel Mission, went to a rodeo, and then hit the McCauley Warm Springs, which offered fabulous scenery for a good soak in the spa-like waters. Since then I’ve knocked several destinations off of my travel bucket list, but I have many miles to go.

San Miguel Mission at sunset, Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Miguel Mission at sunset, Santa Fe, New Mexico

These days this kind of adventure is easy to come by now that I carry the Venture card. At 2 points per dollar I would have had $820 to spend on travel with the $41,000 I had spent back then. That’s twice as much fun.