Here’s how I used credit card travel hacking to get myself to the Taylor Swift concert in LA for free, including my flights and hotel.
As someone who has listened to Taylor Swift for over a decade and had only been to one Taylor Swift concert, I was dying to go to the Eras Tour.
I had tickets to Loverfest (her Lover tour) here in France, where I live, but that was canceled due to Covid.
So when she announced her tour and didn’t include ANY dates in Europe for the whole year, I decided that I was gonna go to the US. Of course, I imagined she’d eventually open up dates for Europe, I didn’t want to risk it lol.
Plus, (if I’m being totally honest) I was very okay with going 2 times, especially with the costs spread out over 2 years.
The question became, how can I afford to go to the Eras Tour in the USA, all the way from France?
Plan AHEAD, like Really Ahead
The main reason I started this blog in the first place (and even wrote a book!) was because so many people were telling me they wanted to travel but couldn’t afford it. Of course, I realize that I have a lot of privilege and was able to avoid student debt, so those are for sure factors.
However, one main thing that people always underestimate is how planning 6 months to a year in advance could save you thousands of dollars.
Yeah, I’m a crazy planner. But that’s because I love to travel (and see Taylor Swift) so I’ll do whatever it takes to save money and make it fit my budget.
So below I’ll talk about how much the tickets were, but I bought these tickets in November and the concert wasn’t until August.
I started planning all of this RIGHT AWAY. The closer to the date, the more expensive and desperate you’ll be.
Budgeting for The Ticket Price
Since my tickets for the Lover tour were refunded, I had that $200 that I never got to spend on the tour.
I had in my mind that I would spend around $400-500 on my ticket, which I realize is a lot, but hey, I don’t have kids and life is short, okay?
When I finally got into Ticketmaster to buy the tickets, only VIP tickets were left, so my friend and I panic bought those for around $700 apiece. Yes, I know lol.
So I knew I had already surpassed my budget there, I was going to need to seriously cut back everywhere else to be able to go.
Flying to the Concert For FREE
As someone who has traveled and lived abroad since 2017, I’ve flown for free many times using credit card points.
Basically, the idea is that you sign up for a credit card that has a big sign-up bonus, which is when you spend a certain amount of money in a certain period of time (usually 3 months) and you get rewards.
Using credit card churning, I would use that card for a year, then cancel before paying for the annual fee the next year.
Does This Affect My Credit Score?
No, I actually have an excellent credit score (800), so I can tell you safely that this doesn’t ruin your credit score.
I’ve gone through so many credit cards, but I usually stick to ones that waive the annual fee the first year or that are under $100 per year.
In this case, I knew that flying to the USA from France in August, which is PEAK travel season, would cost at least $1000. So I needed to find a card that would give me at least $1000 worth of sign-up bonus to cover the entire flight.
After doing the math, and considering which credit cards I’ve already churned in the past, I settled on the Capital One card.
The annual fee was steep, at around $700, but the benefits more than paid for the fee, which I know sounds crazy but hear me out.
Benefits of the Capital One Card
- $300 back per year on travel booked through Capital One
- Lounge Access with Priority Pass
- $1000 sign-up bonus
- Global & TSA Precheck
Spending the Required Amount for the Sign-Up Bonus
Like I mentioned before, I am a planner at heart, especially when it comes to travel. So as soon as I bought the T-Swift tickets in November, I started searching for a credit card that could cover my flight.
I knew that I would need to spend a certain amount of money in 3 months before I could get my sign-up bonus. I’m not a big spender, so I would most likely need all 3 months to spend all of it.
Watching for Flight Deals
Once I hit the spending requirement and got my sign-up bonus, it was time to make sure that I found a flight that was exactly or under $1000. Off-season this would be easy, but in August, not so much.
Plus, now that I’m 30 and getting old lol, I did NOT want more than 1 layover, which makes the prices go up a bit.
I set price alerts on Google Flights and checked my emails every day for cheap deals from Pomelo Travel.
At the end of April, I found tickets that were $1000 with just one layover! So the flights to T-Swizzle would be FREE.
FREE Food at the Airport Using a Priority Pass
One of the hidden expenses of traveling is the airport drinks and meals. Even just breakfast and coffee can be around $15-$20 at the airport. Of course, I usually buy food outside of the airport and then buy coffee there, but even that would be around $5-10 per person.
With the Priority Pass that came with the Capital One card, I was able to skip buying breakfast AND lunch. Instead, I went to the lounge in the Nice, France airport (my home airport) and got a cappuccino and some pain au chocolat.
Then (no shame, don’t judge me here!) I took some napkins and made a sandwich from the bread, cheeses, and meats they had out. I took some more pastries, and voilà, lunch on the plane will be free too!
Staying at a Hotel Near the Venue for FREE
Next on the agenda was the hotel. I was going to the Sofi Stadium in LA and I wanted to stay 2 nights, the night before the concert so my friend and I could get ready all day, and the night after the concert.
I also wanted to be close enough to the stadium that we wouldn’t need a car and we could just Uber pretty cheaply to the venue.
In my case, I had already found and signed up for the IHG card prior to buying the tickets, but if that hadn’t been the case, I would have gotten this card as well.
I didn’t have to wait to get the sign-up bonus since I already had it, so I logged into my IHG account right away, found the nearest IHG hotel, and booked it.
The best part about IHG is that you can book hotels and cancel them for free, so I had no stress about booking the hotels that far in advance.
If the city I was staying in didn’t have IHG hotels, I would have found a different hotel card with a sign-up bonus that DID have hotels near my venue and I would have gone that route.
So 2 nights in LA at a hotel with free breakfast, were FREE.
Remaining Costs of the Trip
In the end, the only costs I had for the trip were Ubers to and from the venue, my ticket, my outfit (which I reused for Barbie and I wore for Halloween, so technically only 1/3 of the cost of that outfit! Girl math.), coffee, lunches, and dinners for the 2 days in LA.
Since I had family in the area, they picked me up from the airport so I saved on an Uber there, but without that, it probably would’ve been less than $100 added on to the costs.
I also got merch (bootleg from people selling it in the parking lot) and my first tattoo while in LA, but since those are optional I won’t include them in my final price! If you’re curious, my bootleg merch was $50 for a shirt and hoodie, and my tattoo was $150.
Total Costs of Taylor Swift Trip to LA:
- Uber to Sofi Stadium: $10.97
- Uber Home: Hitched a ride, so FREE
- Linner (lunch and dinner) Night 1: $40
- Starbucks, Drinks & Snacks: $45 ish
- Dinner & Drinks (water & alcoholic drinks)at Sofi Stadium: $60
- Cost of VIP Ticket: $695.90
Total Cost: $842.87
Was it Worth it?
Hell yeah, I had a great time, so much so that afterward I lost my voice and got sick lol.
What Would the Trip Have Cost Without Travel Hacking?
Without travel hacking the costs would have been:
- $1000 RT Flight from Nice to LA
- $182 per night Hotel in LA: $364
- Food Costs in Airport: $60
Total: $1424 in savings
So the trip would have cost around $2,266.87 if I didn’t travel hack my way there.
My goal was to spend under $1000 total including my ticket and I definitely did that! I felt better buying drinks and merch and even a tattoo instead of spending all that money on hotels and flights.
I could have saved more money by walking to the Stadium, drinking coffee from the hotel, eating dinner outside of the stadium, not going out to eat, etc. but I didn’t worry about those little expenses since I had saved so much on the big ones!
Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.