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Mom, I really want to go to California

Sonya has been asking to go to California for a few years now. I think it’s because she expects the state to be dripping with YouTube stars, but the truth is, my kids haven’t seen the western part of the U.S., and a dear friend of mine from grad school lives out there, and my husband has been talking about going to San Francisco since I met him (ohhhhh my God that was 16 years ago).

But we have too much debt and just the flights for a family of five would be crazy expensive. In theory, we could stay with my friend. In theory, we could make it a long weekend and not spend too much money on food and a rental car. In theory, since Sonya is in the fourth grade, we could get free entrance to a national park. In practice, debt and plane tickets.

I’ve been thinking of getting the Southwest companion ticket by travel hacking. My brother and sister-in-law do this and basically fly everywhere for free, seemingly constantly. The problem is that with all the credit card hacking I did to get us to Disney World and Europe, my credit score took a hit. For the first time in my entire life, it was below 700 (oh man that feels shameful). I didn’t want to take the chance to be denied.

Since Southwest is offering a 75K bonus right now, though, it would be the perfect time. I checked my spreadsheet, and had my husband apply.

Surprise! My spreadsheet was wrong. He had applied for a card I didn’t know about, and my list of his 5/24 was off, and he got denied, and I feel totally foolish. I didn’t want to risk a hard pull on my credit with it being so low. Womp womp. Maybe next year for California.

Except! Through some miracle of “I have never had a late payment in my life,” just as I was ready to fold, my credit score jumped back up above 700. Probably not the best idea to do a hard pull when things are so tenuous but life is short. I closed my eyes, applied, and was approved!

To get the 75K bonus, we need to spend $5K in three months. My husband and I both have work trips that will be reimbursed that total about $3K, so that’s easy peasy. It’s also possible to get a bunch of points (up to 50K through referrals, although most people I know either aren’t interested in this kind of spreadsheeting or have their own spreadsheets going). If you are looking for the same deal, though, here’s my referral link. It costs you nothing and gets me 10K points. Win win!

I have to get to 125K for the companion pass; the next stop will be a business card, fingers crossed. This could actually work! California or bust!

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