Are you a sports fan who has always wanted to travel to support your favorite team(s), but could never justify the expense of flights and hotels to do so? We can help greatly minimize those expenses so you can support your favorite team!
Please note, I do not earn a commission, but do earn a referral bonus of Starpoints or Hilton HHonors points off of the credit card links herein. I always link to the highest publicly available offer, regardless of whether I earn bonus points or not off of the referral. As always, your support by signing up via my referral links is greatly appreciated!
One of my best friends (and fellow Florida State alum/fan), Sam, runs the O.C. Lions FanTV website where he does some awesome videos talking about all things Orlando City soccer with fans and fanatics (definitely check him out if you are a soccer fan!). We were talking the other day about attending away games and how the costs of flights, hotels and rental cars always far outweighed the cost of the tickets – which is usually true. Thankfully though there are sites like The Points Jet Setter where we can show you how to substantial minimize your out of pocket expenses for trips to support your favorite sports team!
So how can we help? Let’s say you are an Orlando City fan and want to travel up to Columbus to support the Lions when they take on the Crew. Port Columbus Airport is a relatively small airport and flights up there from Orlando can be pretty expensive.
Nightly prices for hotels for that weekend can also be pretty pricey:
That means that for 2 people to fly up to Columbus and get a hotel room for the weekend to watch the game you are looking at over $1,200 out of pocket! That definitely hurts the pocket book considering that is your out of pocket cost before you get a rental car and before you purchase your tickets to the game and your meals while you are in Columbus.
So, how do we get these costs down? Points and miles! If you are unfamiliar with how points and miles work, I would encourage you to check out the Points & Miles Beginners Guide I put together which explains how the system works.
Let’s look at flights first. We were seeing an average ticket price of around $400 for flights. If you picked up a Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card, you would earn 25,000 Rapid Rewards points (Chase will up this offer to 50,000 Rapid Rewards points a few times a year, so keep an eye out for that if you do not want to sign up right away) as a sign-up bonus after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
Checking award ticket prices on Southwest shows a bunch of great options:
As you can see, there are flights options that price out at 8,034 points each way for a total of 16,068 Rapid Rewards points. That means with the Chase Southwest Rapids Rewards credit card sign-up bonus, you would have nearly 10,000 Rapid Rewards points left over for another trip!
Prefer to fly an airline other than Southwest? Let’s take a look at Delta. If you picked up an American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card, you would earn 30,000 Delta SkyMiles (Amex will up this offer to 50,000-60,000 SkyMiles a few times a year, so keep an eye out for that if you do not want to sign up right away) as a sign-up bonus after you spend $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
Checking award ticket prices for that weekend on Delta shows several options, including this itinerary for 25,000 SkyMiles:
So with one credit card sign-up bonus, we have saved around $400 on the flight. Now let’s take a look at the hotel options.
The hotels we saw above were going for around $200/night near the Columbus Crew stadium. If you picked up an American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, you would earn 35,000 Starpoints (this is actually the highest sign-up bonus that Amex has ever offered on this card!) as a sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
Checking hotel award prices for Columbus for that weekend, the same room that would have cost you over $200/night will only cost you 7,000 Starpoints per night!
That means that after saving nearly $450 (after taxes and fees are added), you will still have over 21,000 Starpoints left for a future hotel award stays! That is pretty exceptional value for just signing up for a credit card!
Prefer to stay at a different hotel chain? Let’s take a look at Hilton. If you picked up an American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass credit card, you would earn 60,000 Hilton HHonors points (Amex will up this offer to 80,000 Hilton HHonors points a few times a year, so keep an eye out for that if you do not want to sign up right away) as a sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
Checking hotel award prices for Columbus for that weekend, a room at the Hilton would have cost you over $200/night, but by using points you can get a river view suite instead for only 30,000 Hilton HHonors points per night!
Although you would redeem all of your Hilton HHonors points on this redemption, you would still be saving over $450 (after taxes and fees are added) just for signing up for a credit card!
So with the hotel credit card and the airline credit card, you will have saved yourself over $800 on this trip! That leaves you extra money to get much better seats for the game! I am a huge Detroit Tigers fan and used this strategy to catch a game at the new Tiger Stadium last season. I spent some of the money I saved on the trip on tickets 5 rows from the field – and it was awesome!
These are just a few of the ways that you can save money on your travels by utilizing points and miles. There are tons of credit cards out there that offer different types of points to meet just about everyone’s travel needs!
How Does This Impact My Credit Score Though?
Concerned about the effects of signing up for multiple credit cards on your credit score? A lot of people have the misconception that opening a new credit card is harmful to your credit score. The reality of the situation is that as long as you are responsible with you credit cards and pay your balance off in full every month (I recommend that you never carry a balance on your credit cards, if at all possible), your score will actually increase!
If you’re a student or someone with a very limited or weak credit profile, that’s OK too. You will just need to start slow and small with sometimes less rewarding cards to help build your credit profile up.
It’s important to know the factors that make up your credit score.
35% of your credit score is made up of your payment history;
30% of your credit score is your credit utilization;
15% of your credit score is your credit history;
10% of your credit score is made up of the types of credit you use;
10% of your credit score is your request for new credit.
When you apply for a new credit card, the credit card company does an inquiry which is commonly called a “hard pull” on your credit report. The hard pull will temporarily lower your credit score by ~2-5 points, but that lowering will be temporary and will generally be outweighed by the benefits to virtually every other component of your credit score. This means that even though your score may reflect a small decrease right after you apply for a new credit card, it will generally rebound within a month or two, if not sooner. As long as you keep your credit utilization under 10% and make your payments on time, you should not see any negative effects on your credit score from applying for rewards credit cards.
If your credit score is around ~720 or above, you should have no problems getting approved for most any of the credit cards listed in this post. My credit score has actually gone up fairly substantially from where I was before I started applying for credit cards regularly – but that’s also because I am responsible with my cards and pay off my balances in full every month.
As you can see, there are some great options out there for substantially decreasing your out of pocket costs associated with traveling to see your favorite team play! These strategies are effective for everything from soccer games to Formula 1 races and marathons! Remember, if you need help redeeming your points or miles or want some advice on a credit card strategy to help bring your next award trip closer, check out my Award Consulting page!
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