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ConsumerWatch: Credit Cards An Unexpected Way To Find Cheap Travel

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Travelers who want to see the world this summer, or at least visit Mickey Mouse at his house, might want to consider their credit card as a free ticket to ride, so to speak.

And no, this E-Ticket is not about charging up to your card's limit and paying the card off later.

Cheap traveler's like Brad Barrett, who runs a business called Richmond Savers, claim careful consumers can utilize specific credit card reward and points systems to secure hotel rooms, airline tickets, even rentals cars, all for free.

"Everybody that I talked to thinks it sounds too good to be true. It's not using cash but using the credit card and reaping the rewards truly," said Barrett.

Barrett opened up a series of cards, based on the rewards they offer specific to his trip. For example Barrett utilized the following points plan for a while planning a trip to Disneyworld.

Barrett earned 50,000 points on a Southwest Visa. That covered the family's four  plane tickets to Orlando. Two Starwood American Express cards earned Barrett and his family 60,000 hotel points, plus a free night's stay at a Disneyworld hotel, covering their entire stay.

And, with two Barclays cards Brad and his wife earned $800 in statement credits, money that's refunded to the card for signing up or making certain purchases. Those credits were nearly enough to buy four Disneyworld passes.

I think we wound up paying about 100 bucks out of pocket, said Barrett.

Barrett admits he is playing a sort of credit card game, a game not everyone can or should play. It requires discipline. Consumers must pay off their cards in full every month. And a credit score of 700 or higher is most likely necessary in order qualify for some, in not all, of these types of card offers. Finally, this strategy is not a good for someone about to buy a home or a car. That's because submitting multiple applications can indicate to creditors that a consumer is desperate for credit and that can cause a temporary dip in a consumer's credit score.

Still Barrett explains that with discipline and planning, consumers can travel for free using his 'card game'.

'It's that easy.  It really is," said Barrett.

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