How to Get a Trip to Hawaii for Practically Free

big beach hawaii

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Do you know how to get a trip to Hawaii for practically free? If you’ve ever wanted to take a trip to Hawaii, here’s how you can do it for almost free. Follow these easy travel hacking steps and you’ll be sunning on the beach.

Wyatt’s home from college for spring break and during dinner we were talking about where we might go for summer vacation. We’ve always taken a trip to Hawaii every summer since he and Zeke were little, except for the time we went to Belize.

We love Hawaii. After all, who doesn’t? And when you can travel hack a trip to Hawaii it’s even better. First Class flights and staying at a fancy beachfront hotel for practically free. Here’s how you can get cheap flights to Hawaii for $5.60.

How to Get a Trip to Hawaii for Practically Free

big beach hawaii
Travel hack a trip to Hawaii. Fly for free and stay for free using airline miles and credit card points.


Our last trip to Hawaii was 8 days on the island of Kauai. The First Class plane tickets to Hawaii were only $5.60 each way per person.

Eight nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai cost $0.00. Yep, our hotel, one of the many Hawaii hotels and resorts, was completely free.

We got an 8 day trip to Hawaii for $44.80

How’d we do it? 

By travel hacking. We used airline miles and credit card points. And you can do too! Here’s how.

You can read about our entire trip in future blog posts. But here’s a quick rundown and how it’s possible to take a trip to Hawaii for pennies.

Because everyone wants to visit, it can be hard to find cheap flights to Hawaii. But you can use airline miles to pay for your plane tickets to Hawaii.

You can use credit card points to pay for your Hawaii resorts. Making your entire trip to Hawaii practically free. Your only cost to get there is airline taxes of $5.60 per person.

Pro-tip: The $5.60 airline tax per person costs the same flying in coach or First Class.

Want to visit Maui, Oahu, or the Big Island? You can use these same tricks and techniques to get any trip to Hawaii for free!

Look for travel rewards cards.

couple lying on beach in Hawaii who got a free tip to Hawaii

Summer in Kauai


Look what $5.60 gets you


If you have school-aged kids, you have to travel during school breaks. This can be very expensive. But with a little creativity, you can travel well for less.

I love traveling but want to get the most value for my money. And if I can travel for free, that’s even better! That’s why travel hacking is so addictive. It’s a game I’ve been playing since 1994.

Jeff, the boys, and I flew roundtrip First Class to Hawaii in July. This was in the middle of summer when airline tickets cost a fortune. But we paid about the cost of a cup of coffee to fly to Hawaii.

We used 37,500 American Airlines miles each way flying to Kauai per person. Coach tickets cost 17,500 miles each way.

It made more sense to use miles for First Class tickets instead of coach because:

  • You pay the same amount of taxes flying First Class or coach
  • You get free checked bags (a savings of $25 per person)
  • There were more flights to choose from
  • We avoided flying overnight (I hate red-eye flights)

Although we used American Airlines miles we flew on Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. You can use American Airlines miles on partner airlines like Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.

Pro-tip: Flying in coach? You get one free checked bag (up to 6 people) if you have the Alaska Airlines credit card.

Note: American Airlines changed their award chart. Now, you’ll pay 40,000 American Airlines miles for First Class flights to Hawaii or 20,000 miles for coach seats.

The flights:

  • 4 First Class one-way tickets on Alaska Airlines from San Diego to Kauai
  • 2 First Class one-way tickets on Alaska Airlines from Kauai to San Diego
  • 2 First Class one-way tickets on Hawaiian Airlines from Kauai to San Diego

The total cost for airfare: $44.80

Pro-tip: Want to visit another Hawaii island? Here’s how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Hawaii to pay for your airline tickets.

8 Nights Hotel

oceanview room at Grand Hyatt Kauai resort and spa
Stay free at the Grand Hyatt Kauai using points Photo courtesy of Grand Hyatt Kauai

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai because it’s on the beach, has freshwater pools, and a 150-foot slide!

For our trip, it cost 22,000 points per night. Hyatt changed their award chart so now, you’ll pay 25,000 points per night.

The total cost to stay at one of the best Hawaiian resorts: $0.00

Pro-tip: Here’s how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points get free hotels in Hawaii on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island

How to Travel Hack Hawaii

In other trip report summaries like 2 weeks in Hong Kong and the luxury guide to Sydney, I included costs for transportation, food, and activities. But some readers emailed saying they prefer only seeing the flight and hotel costs. And they would like it broken down in a table.

Here’s a table of how you can travel hack Hawaii and get a free trip to Hawaii.

 Cost if We Paid CashWhat We Paid (Actual Cost)Miles or Points Used 
Four one-way First Class flights from San Diego to Kauai on Alaska Airlines$910 per person ($3,640 total)$5.60 airline taxes and fees per person ($22.40 total)37,500 American Airlines miles per person (150,000 miles total)
8 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai$709 per night ($6,683.18 total)$0 (FREE)22,000 Hyatt points per night (176,000 Hyatt points)
Two one-way First Class flights from Kauai to San Diego on Hawaiian Airlines$966 per person ($1,932 total)$5.60 airline taxes and fees per person ($11.20 total)37,500 American Airlines miles (70,000 American Airlines miles)
Two one-way First Class flights from Kauai to San Diego on Alaska Airlines $929 per person ($1,858 total)$5.60 airline taxes and fees per person ($11.20 total)37,500 American Airlines miles (70,000 American Airlines miles)
AMOUNT SAVED$14,068.38

How to Earn the Miles and Points

Earning airline miles and credit cards points is easy. Here’s exactly how you can earn the miles and points for a free trip to Hawaii.

The Alaska Airlines First Class award tickets, one-way SAAver awards, cost 37,500 American Airlines miles per person.

You can earn cheap tickets to Hawaii by applying for credit cards. You can get big signup bonuses from travel rewards cards. These are the best travel rewards cards.

Earning American Airlines Miles

Citi American Airlines Executive Card

You can get 50,000 American Airlines miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your Citi American Airlines Executive card.

 Citi American Airlines Cards

All three of the Citi American Airlines cards are offering 30,000 miles each when you spend $1,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening:

  • Citi American Airlines Platinum Select World Mastercard
  • Citi American Airlines Platinum Select MasterCard
  • Citi American Airlines Business

And you can get 25,000 miles after spending $750 in purchases within 3 months of opening your Citi American Airlines Gold MasterCard.

Earning Hyatt points

World of Hyatt Card

You can earn up to 50,000 points from the World of Hyatt credit card. You’ll earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your Hyatt card and another 25,000 points after spending a total of $6,000 in the first six months. If both you and your partner apply for a card, that’s 100,000 points or 4 free nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai or in Maui or up to 8 free nights in Oahu.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your Chase Sapphire Preferred card. The signup bonus is worth $750 of free travel when you book through the travel portal.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer instantly to Hyatt on a 1:1 ratio. So 60,000 points gets you 2 free nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai or at the Hyatt Regency Maui, or up to 5 free nights in Oahu. Here’s how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Hawaii.

Want to stay at another hotel? Points also transfer to Marriott (includes Starwood hotels), IHG, and The Ritz-Carlton hotels. So you can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels in Hawaii.

Ink Cash

You can earn a $500 bonus from the Ink Cash after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your Ink Cash card. This card also earns 5% cash back (5X points) at office supply stores, cable, internet, and phone services. You can transfer points to cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Here’s a table of all the cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points which transfer to Hyatt. You can also book hotels directly through the Chase Travel Portal. Read step by step instructions on how to book hotels in the travel portal.

 Signup Bonus & Minimum Spending RequirementsAnnual FeeValue of Points Toward TravelWhy I Like This Card
Chase Freedom$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. $01 centThe revolving quarterly bonus categories let you earn lots of cash back on regular spending.
Chase Freedom Unlimited$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. $01 centA no annual fee cash back card gives you freedom to redeem points as needed.
Chase Sapphire Preferred60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. $951.25 centsThis is a great first card if you're getting started in travel rewards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account$5501.5 centsThe $300 yearly travel credit, 3X points on travel and dining, plus the free airport lounge access is worth the high annual fee.
Chase Ink Cash$500 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account$01 centA no fee cash back cards lets you put more money into your business.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited$500 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account$01 centWhen using this card to book rental cars, you get primary insurance coverage
Chase Ink Business Preferred100,000 points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account$951.25 centsGreat for businesses with travel expenses because you earn 3X points on travel

Look for latest travel rewards cards.


We enjoyed a fun summer vacation for 8 days in Kauai. And despite going during the peak season, it didn’t cost us a fortune. In fact, we hardly paid anything. Our trip was practically free.

Our First Class flights to and from Kauai costs $5.60 per person each way. And 8 days at the Grand Hyatt Kauai were free.

The entire trip was paid for using airline miles and credit card points. That’s why we love traveling for free with travel rewards cards. And you can too! Search for travel rewards cards.

You can use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for rental cars.

Stay tuned for more posts on how to get a free trip to Hawaii.

How to Use Rewards Points for Cheap Travel

Read these posts on how to use airline miles and points to travel for cheap.


How to fly free to Hawaii and stay in a beachfront hotel for 8 days for $5.60. | Hawaii | Kauai | travel hacking | miles and points | photo credit: Pixabay | Traveling Well For Less
How to fly free to Hawaii and stay in a beachfront hotel for 8 days for $5.60. | Hawaii | Kauai | travel hacking | miles and points | photo credit: Pixabay | Traveling Well For Less

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Featured image courtesy of Grand Hyatt Kauai


Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.

Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

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  • The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  • Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle March 24, 2017 at 9:16 am

    This is AH-MAZING! I really appreciate all these great ways to save money on travel. I travel a lot and you really save me a TON!

  • Sarah Bailey March 24, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Oh wow that is absolutely AMAZING I love how little you got you Hawaii holiday for, I totally need to try these tips for myself.

  • Kelly Hutchinson March 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I have never been to Hawaii, but have always wanted to. I had no idea you could visit so cheaply.

  • Joely Smith March 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Wow! Impressive! I am showing to my husband because to be honest, I am not organized to do this myself. Thanks for the tips!

  • Anita March 24, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    You are so fortunate that you got to earn and use all of these travel points, I am not too sure it works the same in Canada.

  • Eileen March 24, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    I can’t believe you were able to take your whole family to Hawaii for practically free! It must have taken a while to save all those points!

  • Samantha Sparrow March 24, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Such good tips! I am just getting into travel hacking, using Avios points and trying to collect them at any moment that I can through my shopping etc and how I book accommodation and hotels. I hope to fly to Lisbon just for taxes this year!

  • Gokul Raj March 24, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Those are great Travel hacks. You do a bit tinkering with the credit cards and redeem points and you are good to go.

  • Elena (@TravelingBytes) March 25, 2017 at 12:29 am

    These are great tips for prospective vacationers. I bet it is hard to find a person who hasn’t heard about using miles and points to save travel costs. However, applying this knowledge in real life could be daunting. Step by step how-to guide is a life saver in this situation. On completely different note, I haven’t flown with US airlines for 4 years. Looking at the photo of not so spacious first class seats, I am wondering how crumpled economy class must be. I have to say it is totally worth spending time on research to get an upgrade.

  • Anne March 25, 2017 at 2:31 am

    I wish we could get these $5.60 fares in the UK. Two long haul business class fares for me cost £1200 in taxes alone although I do still save thousands off the full price if I wasn’t using airmiles

  • Rhiannon March 25, 2017 at 5:54 am

    This is so amazing! I really wish I was savvy when it comes to travel hacking! The points system is nowhere near as good in the UK as the US so I think it’s a little tougher to get as incredible deals as this. BUT with that being said you’ve just inspired me to apply for my first ever Avios credit card 🙂 And I got accepted – free flights here I come haha.

  • Vrithi Pushkar March 25, 2017 at 9:43 am

    This is great. My husband and I are big into travel hacking and credit card points. I haven’t paid for three round-trip tickets to India from Chicago just using credit cards points. It is great that you hardly paid anything for your amazing vacation.

  • noel March 25, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Awesome post, now I just need to spend $5000 worth of stuff to get going on a free flight somewhere, I wouldn’t do the program with Hawaiian personally since I have it and they claim to give you 50K but roundtrip flights to Hawaii on their mileage program are average 40K one way which I think is a major rip off.

  • Swati & Sam March 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    These are brilliant tips. Even we use air miles a lot. The sad part is some of the low cost airlines do not support the air mile concepts which is disheartening. Loved the post, thanks for the share.

  • LeAnna Brown March 25, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    We have travel hacked all over the world (over 4 million points racked up as to date) and are actually doing a points trip as we speak (all free flights + free hotel) in Mexico. I mean, how else could we afford to have traveled to over 40 countries so far!? Seriously….travel hacking is THE WAY to go!

  • Riely March 25, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Great tips on travelling to Hawaii for next to nothing! On my first trip to Maui, my husband and I got our airfare and car rental all through travel points. It was a great feeling as like you said, Hawaii can be extremely expensive, but well worth it. The only catch is you have to spend more to get those points! Thanks for sharing.

  • Jenn @ EngineerMommy March 25, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I have never been to Hawaii but I would love to visit. These are great tips on how to save money on a trip there. I will be taking your advice for sure.

  • Ali Rost March 25, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    It’s almost too good to be true! I never would have imagined going to Hawaii would be affordable .. not to mention down-right cheap. I can’t wait to read more of your blog. I have a feeling we’ll be able to afford many more vacations!

  • Barbara Wagner March 25, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Sounds great! I would love to go to Hawaii! Nothing can stop me now!

  • Medhavi Davda March 26, 2017 at 1:44 am

    Who couldn’t want to go to Hawaii, specially when you have given every little detailed tip on how to vacation there for free?! I’m so happy for you that you managed to travel there for free for 8 days. Airline miles and credit card rewards are actually quite useful, but didnt know it can make your entire holiday free.

  • Mihaela Dragan March 26, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This must be one of the most helpful articles I’ve read this weekend! Thanks for all the tips, hopefully I’ll get to be a travel hacking pro too haha.

  • Gina March 26, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Travel hacking like this is definitely something I need to get into. I like how you laid down how to do it by stating which cards you used and how much to spend. 50,000 points for $5,000 of stuff you would buy anyway sounds like a steal. Also $5.60 for first class? Yes, please!

  • Terri Beavers March 26, 2017 at 5:52 am

    I have got to start using rewards, that’s evident. I can’t believe how cheap this was for you, I want to learn from you so I can get a trip to Hawaii practically free.

  • Victoria heckstall March 26, 2017 at 8:05 am

    HAWAII is beautiful and nothing can take that away, it is paradise. I have cruised almost every line including some foreign ones and I will be very honest.

  • Eloise March 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    OMG! you mean to tell me my broke-butt can still go on a trip to Hawaii and not end up in debt? my goodness, sign me up for this credit card… I have one credit card that I earn free miles on, but I still don’t have enough miles to take me somewhere fancy for free : ) If I sign up for Citi and spend 1k the first 3 months I’ll earn 30k in miles, I’m on it! thanks!

  • uprunforlife March 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I would totally go to Hawaii or anywhere else if it was that inexpensive. We are about to start using a business credit card to pay for all our business expenses so that we can earn nice rewards like this soon.

  • Sally Howard March 26, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    This is amazing! Being from the UK I am envious of the US sign up bonuses for credit cards. I have recently moved to Canada though so hoping that they may offer something better out here than what I could hustle together back home. (Amex Gold was a winner for their sign up bonus). Hawaii is on our bucket list while we’re this side of the Atlantic so it would be great to find some similar sign up offers here

  • Janine Good March 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    This is incredible how you were able to get to Hawaii for so cheap. I wish Canadian credit cards offered programs that were even remotely as good as this but sadly they don’t. I have collected aeroplan points for years, but so far I can fly to norther Ontario.

  • Ann Bacciaglia March 26, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    I love when I can use my rewards points to travel for free. I would love to go to Hawaii. It is at the top of my travel wish list. I have been saving up my air miles to go.

  • Tae March 26, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Amazing!! I love how you break everything down step by step and make it so easy for us to do the same. I’ve heard so much about travel hacking and have always been on the fence — but now I think you’ve convinced me!

  • Sandy N Vyjay March 26, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Hawaii could prove to be a pretty expensive tourist destination. Looking at how popular it is, getting a free trip to Hawaii is similar to hitting a triple jackpot! And Gosh these tips are amazing! I am definitely going to try these out

  • Catvills March 26, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    These are excellent tips. I love using my travel rewards points. Hawaii is one of the places I would love to visit one day.

  • stacey veikalas March 27, 2017 at 2:34 am

    What a great list of ways to travel on points and miles. It is always baffling to me to try and figure it all out. What you can use, best programs just all of it. I need to start researching and using your great tips for sure!

  • Vicki Louise March 27, 2017 at 4:25 am

    Such great ideas to get the best from points and miles – you got such an amazing deal! Well done! I’m definitely going to start using your tips and building up my points.

  • Christopher March 27, 2017 at 9:03 am

    You know, I want so badly to be good with points and airline miles. I was all excited as you started introduced Hawaii but once you started talking numbers and I start seeing numbers then. my brain wants to run away…far away. I give you credit for being able to stay on top of it all and get incredible deals…

  • Cat March 27, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Wow that’s for sharing your tips – travel for free is the dream!! I just signed up for Hyatt Loyalty card. I hope there’s something equivalent in Canada for the Chase credit card so we can save the points faster!

  • Lauren March 27, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    WOW! That’s incredible! The fact that you can do this pretty much all in points blows my mind. I get travel points with my credit card that gets me free flights every year -but you have earned way more than I have. Well done!

    • jOE dUNNE April 9, 2017 at 4:08 am


      • Debra Schroeder April 9, 2017 at 7:05 am

        Hi Joe Dunne,

        Can you email me a screenshot of what you’re seeing? Because from our end, we’re not seeing any ads covering any of the content.

        Thanks 🙂

  • Anita Hendrieka March 28, 2017 at 4:27 am

    A great post for people who want to know how to travel hack around the world. Everyone likes a free trip to Hawaii now and then!

  • Megan Jerrard March 28, 2017 at 5:02 am

    Really great tips – we have the Hyatt credit card and get a free night each year, I’ve heard that Hawaii is one of the most spectacular properties for the free night stay. And flits usually go on the rewards point from our credit card with Chase 🙂 Nice work on first class flights for under $10!!

  • Indrani March 28, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I didn’t know earning points for airlines is so simple. I will try out these tips and let me check how much of discount I can avail.

  • Reshma Narasing March 28, 2017 at 10:22 am

    So impressed to find that you can leverage the mile points so well. Thanks for the tips! I’m gonna try this soon.

  • Francesca @onegrloneworld March 28, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I’ve gotta get into travel hacking with points! I managed to rack up a lot of points with air france and flew free once which was awesome, but not first class!! Definitely going to look into the cards you suggested.

  • Marielle Altenor March 28, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I need to start earning more points! That would be so cool to go on a trip for free or stay in an expensive hotel for free using points!

  • Mars April 6, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Wow you can be my friend haha. I love reading stories like this one. I also travel on a budget and I can relate to this.

  • aziel morte April 7, 2017 at 8:01 am

    What a good tips and I havn’t heard about the reward points, glad that you share this with us.

  • Jennifer April 15, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Oh my goodness! I totally need to put these tips into practice. My son wants to visit Hawaii so bad! This would be a great way to save money

  • Brianna September 27, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Hawaii can definitely break the bank but I love that you went there first class for peanuts. I love your site for maximizing points!

  • Meagan September 27, 2017 at 8:03 am

    This is absolutely incredible! I love using travel rewards miles, but I never seem to rack them up quite fast enough for how much I want to travel 🙂 I also really appreciate the chart breakdown – it lays the whole trip out so simply. Thanks for sharing!

  • Elaine J Masters September 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Inspiring. Wish I had the discipline. I don’t have the time but use miles cards for most purchases. They rack up nicely.

  • Missy Lulu October 13, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Maybe I’m stupid but how do you get all those points? You needed 290,000 for the airfares and at least 88,000 if you get the four nights for free (which you say you didn’t in the example) for getting a Hyatt credit card. That’s a minimum total of 378,000 points if you do get the free nights. Now you say you can get various other Citi credit cards that will give you bonus points with a minimum spend in the first three months. If you get all 5 Citi cards listed you would have to spend at least $8750 in the first three months to get all the bonus points on offer: a total of 165,000 points. If you both get all 5 cards each you would have to spend $17,500 between the two of you in the first three months and this would get you a total of 330,000 points meaning you would still be 48,000 points short. At 2 points per dollar spent on your credit cards you would need to spend another $24,000 to get the remaining 48,000 points. So you would have to spend at least $41,500 on your cards to get your ‘practically free’ holiday. You would also have to hope that Citi is willing to give each one of you five new credit cards plus Hyatt giving you another one (which I think is highly unlikely). On top of this, you would have to ensure that you close all the credit card accounts within a year or you would also be up for their annual fees as they are only waived for the first year.
    Additionally, $17,500 in three months is the equivalent of putting $70,000 a year on your credit card – many people/families don’t earn this much in a year before taxes let alone spend that much on their credit cards. In my opinion, unless you are a very high earner or are using the cards for a business most people would struggle to get anywhere near the points required for your trip and the people who could rack up that many points can probably afford to pay the airfares and accommodation anyway.

  • Sue December 28, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Wow that is incredible! I love how you added the spreadsheet to make this more understandable. Can one apply for these credit cards if not a US citizen?


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