Updated: Jun 14
When I sat down in my chair, I felt something sticky on my feet.
I boarded a flight that was going to be about 13 hours long, and I was sitting in coach.
As I waited for other people to board the plane, I pulled up Instagram and started looking at all the influencers I was following.
A particular influencer I recently started following was talking about how they were going to the same place I was. They were running a bit late and they thought they were going to miss their flight.
Ten minutes passed and everyone had settled down in their seats, but we weren't moving. I saw there was an available first-class seat. I was debating on asking a stewardess if I could upgrade.
It would be tight on my travel budget, but I didn't want to sit in coach for 13 hours.
Suddenly, that very influencer gets on the plane, puts their bag in storage, get's their free drink, and sits down in a first-class seat. The very one I had my eyes on.
A minute later, I got a new post notification from that influencer. It was a simple message. "Made it!"
They were smiling with a drink in hand in their comfortable that reclines with complimentary blankets, pillows, and even slippers!
It was like putting salt in the wound!
13 long, sleepless, sticky hours later I made up my mind.
I managed to squeeze out of the airplane and catch up with that influencer and ask them how they did it...what made them so special?
They simply smiled and said, "I used my credit card points!"
And then they left. Just as gracefully as when they entered the plane.
As you probably imagine, I wasn't super excited with that answer. But it got me thinking.
"There's nothing fundamentally special about them, I could do that too."
So I did.
How Can Credit Cards Help Me Travel In Style?
I'm going to give you one of the best "tricks of the trade;" at the beginning, it all starts with the right cards.
Having a business credit card, or even a regular credit card can really empower you as a traveler.
Whether it's through redeeming points to help pay for some or all of your flights, booking an airport lounge, or skipping the lines at customs; traveling can always be easier with the right credit cards.
It all boils down to which cards you apply for.
Different cards offer different rewards so the real secret is not just applying for one card.
Let's break down some of my favorite perks that come with my favorite credit cards.
Coming home from a vacation can always be a somewhat sad experience as you realize you have to get back to work that Monday.
Thankful the TSA has provided a way to skip the lines when you return to the United States from a flight.
Traveling internationally requires you to go through a process called customs.
Customs are like a set of rules and processes that countries use when people or things go in or out of their borders. When you travel to another country, you have to go through customs.
Different countries have different rules for customs, so it's important to follow them when you visit a new place.
When you have Global entry, you can skip the line at customs when you return to the United States. It costs about $100 and only works when returning to the US from abroad. But you need to be sure to apply before you leave.
There are credit cards that will offer the benefit of global entry when you pay for your flight with them. When you apply for global entry, you'll need to have an in-person meeting either at the on-site location near your airport or the next time you go through immigration.
How to access TSA Pre-Check
Global entry will automatically get you a TSA pre-check. However, TSA pre-check will not get you global entry.
TSA pre-check is something you use before you get on your flight. Global Entry is something you do after your flight.
So, to use TSA pre-check, be sure to use the credit card with the global entry benefit already activated on it.
If you're using your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, it will issue a credit for you to use on your pre-check. That's how you get it for free.
TSA Pre-Check is a great benefit because you don't have to worry about silly things, like taking your shoes off or taking out your laptop at security.
Make your journey easier as you make your way to the airport lounge.
Now you've finally made it through security, let's talk about what an airport lounge is and why is it awesome.
An airport lounge is a select area in the airport where you can sit down, relax, eat, drink (some lounges have free alcohol), use their exclusive wifi, use clean, exclusive bathrooms, and even shower.
These lounges are located at different terminals and are almost hidden in plain sight.
It's a much more enjoyable experience than sitting in the general admission area of the airport by the gate and waiting for your flight.
Different airlines have different lounges. Certain credit cards give you what is called a "priority pass." Some cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Business Platinum give you access to thousands of airport lounges worldwide.
Some lounges will also give you credit when you visit, which can be used at restaurants or bars.
If you don't have a credit card with lounge access, you can purchase access through the "Lounge Buddy" website.
Before you purchase anything from Lounge Buddy, be sure to check if your credit card allows you to bring guests for free. Don’t pay more than what you should.
If you're one to arrive early to an airport and you want to relax when you travel, I recommend booking a reservation at an airport lounge at the airports you're traveling at.
How Credit Cards Can Boost Your Hotel Status
If you fly in style, you better stay in style too.
Credit Cards partner with different hotel chains that come with a really rewarding point system.
Let's use Hilton for example.
Their membership tier is set up as:
If you were to just create a membership with Hilton you'd have to start at "member" status.
After enough stays at Hilton properties, you get promoted to Silver which offers more benefits. The same with moving to Gold and then to Diamond.
Every time you move up in status, you increase the benefits you receive as a guest at those properties. This is a great incentive to continue with one hotel brand and build your relationships with them. If you are constantly traveling, it will probably be really easy to build your status with your favorite hotels.
But there's a fast pass to boost you to "gold" which can then catapult your relationships, your hotel status, and consequently all your other statuses.
When you get a credit card that's linked to a hotel, you can automatically start at a "gold" status. There's more power in this than you think.
Join Credit Stacking
While that influencer on my Instagram feed was given the special treatment, it wasn’t because he was anyone special, he knew the secret hacks! And so can you.
The elements that went into my making a 400% return on my points were:
Having strong credit.
Using top cards that generate points.
Having the knowledge to use trader partners (like Marriott) and the ability to snipe out killer deals led to a 400% return on my points.
And this could be you! All of these things I did to pay for my trip with points are taught in the Credit Stacking course.
Even if you don't have a business, we can teach you how to get access to business credit. Get started on planning your next international trip by joining the Credit Stacking community today!