Retirement, Travel, and How to Stay within your Budget


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After working for decades, the freedom granted in retirement provides an unparalleled opportunity to see parts of the world you haven’t seen before. It also makes it a breeze to visit friends and family whenever you desire, for as long as you want. While this sounds great, it is not the reality for many retirees, mostly due to cost. Travel is expensive and most people do not budget this cost into their retirement plan. Since you can’t go back and save more money, there has to be another way to travel within your retirement budget.

While there are numerous articles telling you where to travel and when to travel to save money, there is one place that can save you money without these restrictions: RewardStock.  RewardStock enables its users to travel anywhere for almost no cash. This might sound too good to be true, but it’s not.

How does RewardStock work?

To make it simple, RewardStock uses credit card points to get users free flights and hotels.  Airlines, hotels, and credit cards companies have been rewarding customers with points for decades. The points are usually veiled in mystery and very hard understand. RewardStock takes the confusion out of it.

When you first sign up, RewardStock asks you basic questions, such as how much you usually spend per month as well as how many credit cards you are comfortable signing up for every year. They then ask you where you want to go, when you want to go, and how long you want to go for. This can be domestic or international. RewardStock takes any already held points into consideration as well. After all this, you get a list with the best cards to sign up for to get your flight and/or hotels for free.

Let’s look at an example:

For example, say you wanted to travel from Raleigh to Orlando in March 2018. You want to stay for 7 nights. After inputting this into RewardStock, plan options will come up. Each plan is then broken down into steps of how to achieve your desired flights and/or hotel stay for free. An example of a plan for this scenario looks like this:

  1. Get the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Personal)
  2. Spend $3,000 on The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Personal) to earn 28,500 points
  3. Get the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®
  4. Spend $96 on AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® to earn 60,001 points
  5. Use 28,000 Starpoints to book your hotel.
  6. Use 12,500 AAdvantage Miles to book your outbound flight.
  7. Use 12,500 AAdvantage Miles to book your return flight.

You’ll end up with 35,001 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles, and 500 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Starpoints

As you can see, something that is pretty complicated gets boiled down into 7 steps. You end up spending $3,096 to get 53,000 points. After booking both your flight and hotel, you’ll even have points left over, which can go towards your next trip!

RewardStock stresses that you should not spend money you do not have. The $3,096 required to earn the points on the two cards should be spent on things you normally buy and not new purchases. Bills, groceries, gas, and other everyday expenses can easily rack up the $3,096. “Instead of using cash or a debit card, just use the designated credit card” says Hud Callaway, director of user success at RewardStock.

Right now, RewardStock does only let you plan for one person at a time, but Hud suggests that partners “double dip”, or sign up for the same cards at the same time to take advantage of the deal. “Even if you are married, you are individual people in the eyes of credit card companies,” Hud adds.

RewardStock recently helped couple Cindy and Art, who are in their 60’s, save $10,000 on flights during a cycling tour from Prague to Budapest. They said, “Working with RewardStock made the process so much less nerve wracking. When I look at what these flights would have cost us, we never would have opted for a premium cabin.  Using points made it all possible and we are so excited for our upcoming trip!” 

Will this ruin my credit?

As long as you a responsible credit card user, no! Credit is something that is greatly misunderstood, even by people in retirement.  RewardStock has a great guide on credit and how it works here, but here is a basic explanation.

Credit is made up of 5 things: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix, and new credit. The most important are payment history and amounts owed, which make up about 65% of your credit score.  Just from that information, it is easy to see that as long as you pay your cards off in a responsible manner, your credit will not be dramatically affected.

Other important tidbits to remember in regards to your credit:

  • Length of credit history is 15% of your credit score. RewardStock recommends holding onto your oldest credit card in order to maintain a high score. This will make sure the average age of your credit does not dramatically drop when you open new cards.
  • Opening new credit cards does have a small negative impact on your score. The new credit category accounts for only 10% of your credit score. The amount of points you lose though will be outweighed by the points gained for responsible credit card usage. Eventually, the impact of new cards goes away.
  • Make sure to check your credit score regularly. is a great free service to use that does not have an impact on your score.
  • RewardStock suggests not cancelling cards for at least two years. You do not need to continue using the cards through the two years, just hold onto them.

RewardStock helps customers all along the way.  They offer free phone calls with users to help them get started. You can ask questions while you are going through the process as well. Go to to get started.

If you need help planning a budget for retirement, Cardinal can assist you in this, and our specialists will make allotting for travel in your retirement plan a breeze.  Call or message us for more information!

Hans Scheil is the author of “The Complete Cardinal Guide to Planning for and Living in Retirement” and the accompanying workbook. He can be reached at

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