Credit-Card-Free Ways to Save Money (so you can travel more!)

The points and miles hobby has a big emphasis on credit card sign-ups because of the value that can be found in points and because of the large bonuses cards will give for a (relatively) small amount of spending. But what if credit cards aren't right for you? Or you're not sure if this hobby is something you want to spend time figuring out?

There are still plenty of ways to save money and/or earn points! Here's a list of a few of our favorites, in no particular order:


Many gas stations and grocery stores have points programs that allow you to earn credits towards your fuel purchases. One of my favorites is Fuel Rewards, which are redeemable at Shell stations around the country. You can earn savings directly through Fuel Rewards, or you can link other rewards programs to redeem your points through Fuel Rewards on gas at Shell. We have linked our Giant card to Fuel Rewards and have seen the savings pile up.

Grocery store gas points programs can also be a source of great savings on their own. Many have bonus gas points promotions, including on buying gift cards (which you can then use to cover other ordinary expenses). Check the weekly circular (available on the store's website) and/or the mobile app to add digital coupons. As we mentioned on Instagram and in the Facebook group this week, there are often easy promotions to earn extra gas rewards that can really add up.


Who has time to shop when you're busy traveling the world? If you're like us, most of your shopping happens online. Many rewards programs have a shopping portal that will allow you to shop through their site and earn extra rewards points for purchases, no specific credit card necessary. The #1 tool for shopping portals is Cashback Monitor. It will tell you what each portal offers for a particular site you're using, so you can decide which one to use to maximize your earnings.

There are cash back only portals, like Rakuten (formerly Ebates) that will pay you (once a quarter via check) for your purchases. Just sign up for an account, and before your next online shopping purchase, go to the Rakuten website first.  They frequently run promotions with up to 15 cents back per dollar spent. If you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards, you can sign up for a Rakuten account that will earn you Membership Rewards points instead of cash back, if you prefer! [Spoiler alert, we value Membership Rewards higher than 1 cent per point, so a Rakuten account that earns Membership Rewards could be more valuable].

Chase has its own shopping portal that you can use if you have any of their Ultimate Rewards earning cards to help you accumulate those points faster. There are also portals for the major airline loyalty programs, if you're trying to accumulate those miles with a specific redemption in mind.


Another way to save is through rebate apps on your phone. Each of these work somewhat differently, but give you cash back for your purchases.

Ibotta: add offers to your account and get cash back when you redeem them. There are offers for many major retailers including Amazon, Walmart and Target. You can also use Pay with Ibotta offers by linking your favorite rewards credit card to the app and using Ibotta to pay for your purchase, often at a higher rebate.

Upside: claim offers in the app (note the limited time you have to redeem), complete your purchase, and upload a picture of your receipt to earn cash back through the app. Upside seems to only be available in the Eastern U.S., but it can stack with Fuel Rewards to earn you even more cash back on your purchases at Shell.

Dosh: Download the app, link your credit cards and earn cash back for in-store and online purchases. The app tells you which offers are available, but you don't have to choose or add them in advance.


How do you save money on everyday purchases? Comment below or join our group on Facebook to discuss.

If any of these methods are new to you, and you'd like to try them out, we'd appreciate it if you sign up using our links in this post.

Happy saving, and happy traveling!

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