077-Travel Rewards

077 | Travel Rewards | Marla Taner

Experienced travel hacker and world traveler Marla Taner shares story of reaching financial independence, and her best tips for getting to Hawaii, Costa Rica and the Caribbean with minimal expenses, using credit cards points and air miles.

What you'll get in this episode:

  • How Brad and Jonathan come to know Marla
  • What does it mean for Marla to be 3rd generation FI?
  • What lessons did she learn from her parents and grandparents in regards to managing finances?
  • How did Marla learn to budget as a teenager?
  • How did Marla reach financial independence?
  • Why is Marla committed to being fully retired in her 40s, without any side jobs?
  • As an early retiree, with lots of time for self-reflection, what activities and aspirations has Marla come to embrace?
  • How did the Vancouver Olympics jump start Marla’s habit of travel hacking?
  • Airfare Tip: redeeming British Airways miles through Alaska or American Air allows you to travel to Hawaii from the West Coast for just 25,000 air miles.
    • Most popular ways to get British Airways miles are through their credit card, or through Chase Sapphire and Amex credit cards.
  • Hotel Tip: Sign up for hotel credit card to get free points or free nights.
    • Hyatt Credit Card
    • Sheraton / Starwood Hotel Credit Cards
  • What is a “sweet spot” in regard to travel rewards?
  • How does the flight booking process work with the British Airways travel rewards?
  • Getting to Hawaii from elsewhere in the US: points through Korean Air, which is partnered with Delta.
    • Points available from Korean Air credit card, Chase rewards, or Citibank rewards
  • How would someone determine if they’re getting a good deal on travel rewards?
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and IHG Rewards Club Club Premier Credit Card have a yearly fee but offer anniversary points.
  • What is Marla excited about in travel rewards this year?
  • Southwest Companion Pass: earn 110,000 miles, then bring a companion for free
  • Marriott Nights and Flights: redeem 200,000 or more Marriott points for Southwest Rapid Rewards, and a 7-night stay at any Marriott
  • Vacation Tip: Stack your Southwest Companion Pass with Marriott Nights and Flights for a family vacation.
  • Costa Rica Tips: Fly Southwest from Houston or Fort Lauderdale, redeem points for the Hyatt.
  • Navigating between Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve opens some nice travel options.
  • Do travel rewards actually end up costing more money?

Other links mentioned in this episode:

Mr. Money Mustache

The Military Guide: “The Fog of Work”


Thank you for being a part of the ChooseFI community! If you want to support us, here are some easy ways:

1) Leave an iTunes review: http://www.choosefi.com/itunes

2) Use our page to sign up for travel credit cards

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3) Most importantly, find your friends, coworkers, and family members who may be open to this message and tell them about the podcast! (Episode 21 is a great starting place)

As Jonathan would say, “The FIRE is spreading my friends!”

077 | Travel Rewards | Marla Taner

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11 thoughts on “077 | Travel Rewards | Marla Taner”

  1. Ha – Marla became accidentally FI like I did!! Congrats Marla, awesome episode. I need to plan some of my bigger house projects with a new travel card or two so I can be assured I’ll meet the minimal spending. Great tips.

  2. Great episode! At the end of the episode Marla answered the question I had throughout the whole podcast: how is a Canadian getting all these great American credit cards (answer: geo-arbitrage to the States). However, does she have any specific blogs or resources she can point her fellow Canadians to? It is much harder for us to travel back to the same degree and I am losing heart that this is something I can fully adopt.

  3. I don’t see the step-by-step walkthrough that was mentioned for Korean Air redemption, if it hasn’t been added would you please add a link?

  4. Hi Guys. I love your podcast. Its awesome, and I am learning a ton.
    (I actually started back at the beginning a bout a month ago, and I am working through them slowly..)

    My big question on Travel Rewards in general: What is the general spend you guys are doing yearly on the credit card to achieve all these rewards? I feel like people have to spending huge amounts yearly to keep up the point inflow.. am I wrong?

    (On a personal note, I just turned 40 this year and am very frozen on what to do. Any really strong podcasts you guys have done that you would recommend for people in my shoes? I know thats such a general topic, and your probably going to just say keep on listening.. but if there are any specific topics for the over 20’s that you can lead me too, I am all ears! )

    Thanks again for what you do!

  5. I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned that Chase significantly changed rules surrounding the Chase Southwest Credit Cards. My wife and I both got companion passes at the beginning of this year so we could travel effortlessly with our family of 4. We started talking our friends into it so we would have travel buddies and were just made aware that you can no longer take out two consumer cards. That said, you can still do it with the business card and one consumer card.

  6. I originally skipped this episode since I’m not in a traveling part of my life right now. But the Friday round up mentioned some of the things she talked about at the beginning of the podcast and I had to listen.

    Is there a blog post description of what her parents/grandparents did with her and her sister where I can apply some of that with my children? My question is, how do you allot a years worth of money to a child? I don’t know what the expenses will be myself so I don’t know how much I should be giving my child for the year. I also thought of making it chore based. This chore is worth x amount and have it limited to how much a child needs per year. Or rather have the pool of money be limited to the budget for the year.

  7. Hi Jonathan and Brad, A huge fan of your podcast! Finally caught up with all of them about a month ago and now cannot wait to hear the next 2 every week.
    I have a question on business cards – After applying for a couple of personal cards, it was finally time to get The Chase Ink Business Preferred – and my app was put on hold / rejected – Called the reconsideration line twice and was told that the card will only be approved it the business is validated via their automated method or I can produce proof of a DBA (doing business as). There was no issue with credit history/limits etc. The second time I was told that this was a new requirement for all Sole Proprietorships as of 2018 (after I explained that the laws dont actually require me to register an SP with the state) – they said that a new federal law required them to validate all businesses. Is this true? If it is, how does one go about getting a DBA? What are the pros and cons of doing so? Will other banks with business cards require the same?

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