Think that a trip around the world is out of your budget? We are here to tell you that it is not impossible. The Top Ten Ways to Save Money for Your RTW Trip series will focus on the best ways to save money to enable someone from any budget level to achieve the RTW dream. It is Our Goal to enable each and every one of you to travel the world as much as your heart desires. These simple tips can be followed by every traveler to save money while preparing for an RTW trip and will enable almost anyone to realize the RTW dream. For a list of all of the articles in this series, click here.
In today’s connected world, it is hard to unplug. One of the best parts about traveling is that you often do not have 24×7 access to cell phones and the internet. However, the long term traveler that carries no electronics is extremely rare these days. We are not among that group. Although we do not plan to live our adventure through the viewfinder of a camera or to spend our time watching netflix on a laptop, we will be taking a few select electronics on our trip to capture our memories and upload them here on In Search of Wonder.
On our trip, we plan to take a MacBook Air, an iPad, a kindle reader, an external hard-drive, a Digital SLR camera, and one unlocked GSM phone. We were fortunate enough to already have an iPad and a Nikon D3200 camera that we could use, however, the other items we would need to purchase. While planning out our budget for equipment, we quickly realized that these electronics represented one of the highest pre-trip costs. The MacBook Air alone was nearly $1,000. The other devices added another $500 to bring our cost for the electronics we deemed as necessary to a total of $1,500!
If you have followed the other articles in this series, then you know that we avoid paying full price whenever possible, but this time we went a step further. For our electronics, we paid exactly $0. Yes, we got them all for free, and so can you! Actually, that is not completely true. We were actually paid $65 for purchasing them. There are no tricks, no gimmicks, and you can do it too.
Here is how we did it:
A few credit card companies offer lucrative sign-up bonuses when you apply for a new credit card, which you receive after making a set amount of spending. The spending requirement is usually somewhere between $1,000 – $5,000 dollars over the course of the first 3-6 months that you have the card. The bonuses vary from card to card, but the best cards offer bonuses of 40,000 – 60,000 reward points. The two programs that can best be redeemed for electronics purchases are the American Express Gold Card and the Chase Ink Bold card.
For our electronics purchases, we applied for two Chase Ink Bold cards during Small Business Week because the normal signup bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points was increased to 60,000. Like most credit card points systems, Chase’s points are worth 1 penny each, so 60,000 points equates to $600. In order to receive the 60,000 points, we needed to spend $5,000 within the first three months. Since we also receive one point for each dollar spent with the card, after spending $5,000 for the minimum spending requirement, our total points balance was 65,000 for each of the two cards, for a total of 130,000 points. In dollars, that equals $1,300 worth of electronics for free!
Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for either cash, Best Buy gift cards, or directly on Amazon.com at the time of checkout which gives great flexibility. For example, our DSLR camera lenses are very expensive new, but can be purchased used on the amazon store for about 60% of the new price. Having the Chase rewards allows us to find the cheapest price for each of the electronic devices we need, rather than being stuck with only one retail option.
Now, you may have noticed that our cost was $1,500 but we only have $1,300 in Chase points. So how did we make up the remaining $200? Everyone’s favorite two words: Black Friday. We are saving our points for a few more weeks until all of our electronic devices go on discount at Best Buy and Amazon for Black Friday so that we make our points stretch as far as possible. In years past, MacBooks have been discounted by $100-$150 and this year will be no different. All of the other devices will similarly be discounted by 20% or more.
Last but not least, remember tip #8 from this series about upromise? Using upromise we receive 5% or more in cash back on all of our online purchases. So when we spend $1,300 online for our electronics at Best Buy and Amazon, we will receive $65 in cash back from upromise! Thus making our purchases not only free, but we are getting paid to purchase them. Now that is a great deal!
It is important to note that the credit cards we signed up for have a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year. Before the one year anniversary, we will cancel the cards to avoid paying the annual fee. In addition, we make sure to pay the full balance each month on the cards so that we do not incur any fees or interest charges. We also do not make extravagant purchases in order to meet the minimum spending requirements. We use the cards for regular expenses only; such as mortgage payments, utilities, and gas.
Are you taking electronics with you on your travels? What electronics do you think are required for a trip around the world?
Disclaimer: Credit cards should always be used responsibly and we only advocate using credits cards if you can pay the statement balance in full each month to avoid finance charges. Credit cards, when used correctly, are a great tool to build your credit and should never be abused.