Here is a list of things that I regret doing now that I am more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of travel hacking:
Opening a Target Credit RedCard
My mom had been encouraging me to get the Target RedCard to get the 5% off and free shipping. My wife and I were in store one day and had found a chair that we wanted to buy. Our
entire shopping cart was going to cost around $150 so I figured might as well apply for the RedCard now. The RedCard has a debit and credit version. However, I didn’t have a cancelled check so I couldn’t apply for the debit version. I went ahead and applied for the credit version, which I now regret since its another credit card on my already full credit report. Looking back I should have just forgone the 5% off that day and came back with a cancelled check for the debit version.
Opening Bank Accounts with Overdrafts
A couple years ago I opened a bank account with overdraft protection. The reason I regret doing this is that it pretty much guarantees a hard pull on your credit report. Also, because I keep detailed track of my personal finances, I’ve also never utilized this overdraft protection.
Redeeming UR for Cashback
Before I got into travel hacking, I used my Chase Freedom card most frequently. As a student, I only had a $500 credit limit. However, after using it for a couple years I accumulated about 40,000 UR. I ended up redeeming these UR for $400 in cashback. Now looking back I could have transferred these UR to travel partners like Southwest, Hyatt, or British Airways as soon as I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Transferring UR to one of their partners would have given me a value of around $750 for those 40,000 UR.
Avoiding the Bill
I was heavily involved in student leadership in college. There were multiple times that we had to buy food or supplies for a campus event. We would then be reimbursed by the University for the expenses. I also remember going out to eat with friends and everyone paying with cash. I could have easily put these expenses on a credit card (earned the points) collected the cash from everyone, deposited it, and used the funds to pay off my credit card.
Not Signing Up for Frequent Flyer Accounts
When in college in Seattle, I flew home to Southern California for holidays and other events. I typically flew this route 2-3 times per year. However, I always had my dad book the flight for me so I assumed he received frequent flyer points so I didn’t bother making my own account. Come to find out the miles you earn for flying in the airplane are tied to the individual who’s butt is in the seat. I probably could have earned about 1,250 miles per round trip.
Asking for a Credit Line Increase
As a recent college graduate with a full-time job, I figured the best method to get more credit would be to ask Discover for a credit line increase. What I didn’t know was that this request would be a hard pull on my credit report that would stay on there for 2 years. Some banks don’t do hard pulls for credit line increases, but be sure to check before you make your request.
Not Using Portals for Online Shopping
Not using portals for hundreds of dollars of online shopping is basically throwing away free points/cashback. I could have saved quite a bit of money or earned at least one round trip flight over the course of the past few years.
Obviously none of these mistakes ruined my credit score like missing payments or closing a no annual fee card. However, I still look back on these mistakes and wish I would’ve known what I know now. Anyway, moral of the story is that you should learn from my mistakes.