RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Some parents save money for years before they have enough put away to take their families to Walt Disney World. Other families have figured out a way to take their children to the Magic Kingdom - for free.
"It sounded too good to be true," Richmond CPA and RichmondSavers.com blogger Brad Barrett said about the secret behind his family's "free" Disney vacation. "Everyone I talked to thinks it's too good to be true. But honestly, it's true."
Barrett and his wife, who is also a CPA, said the free trip is not magic -- it's about credit cards.
"It's based around the system called travel rewards," Barrett said. "Basically opening up targeted credit cards to earn massive bonuses, then using very specific programs to book the travel you need."
Barrett said his family has planned three free vacations using this method and plans to take a free trip to Europe next year.
For their upcoming Disney trip, their plan paid for their flights from Richmond to Florida and their hotel stay on Disney property. He said the family had to pay about $100 for a week's worth of park tickets.
"It took a little bit of work upfront," Barrett admits about his plan which basically requires you to open specific credit cards that offer specific rewards. "Instead of using cash or a debit card, we just used our credit cards and then they gave us this huge bonus. I took those bonuses and booked our travel."
Barrett said it is important to use the credit cards for your "normal spending" like gas and groceries and to pay off the balance of the card each month.
"If you have trouble with credit cards, if you don't pay it off in full every month, if you're going to spend more if you have a credit card, do not do this. This is not for you," he said.
Barrett said he opened four or five credit cards to earn enough bonus points to book the Disney vacation for his wife and two daughters.
"We're going to Disney for free because we just decided to do this instead of paying cash," he said. "It's a fundamental rethink on travel. You're not worried about the cost of the flight anymore. There's a set reward chart. As long as you have those number of points, which you can have as long as you plan, you can go where ever you want."