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.
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.
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.