If you're a third year medical student, you need to read this.
Get a credit card today to pay for your residency interview travels.
DISCLAIMER: If you have a history of paying your credit card late, this is NOT a good option for you. For this to be financially beneficial, you NEED to have complete control over your spending habits.
I just checked my Southwest Rapid Rewards account. It reads 53,400 points. Pretty amazing. I could take my family on a round trip vacation for $20. A good friend referred me to the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards card when I told him I was looking for a cheap way to travel for next year's interviews.
You need a specific offer though for this to work. You need to know someone who has the Chase Rapid Rewards card already, like my friend did. The offer to earn $50,000 points by spending $2,000 in the first 3 months must be offered to you. Actually, this is one grievance I have with this program. Even though I signed up via a friend, I never received in writing that I was spending towards the 50,000 points. I called Southwest and they told me that it is attached to my account but not advertised anywhere. Whatever! What matters is that I now have 50,000 points to fly to interviews. In reality, it only cost me the time it takes to apply for the card. Spending $2,000 was extremely easy. I did not buy anything that I wouldn't have otherwise.
SPENDING $2,000 AS A MED STUDENT
Once it clicked for me, this was really easy. Guess what? 4th year of med school is by far the most expensive year of med school due to the incredible costs of flying to interviews, hotels, and Step 2. So, I leveraged that cost, applied for my card in November 2016, and registered for Step 2 CS in December, which costs $1,275, choosing to pay with the card. That left me with $725 to spend in 3 months! Really easy for me to spend. Especially when it's Christmas time!
HOW I DID IT
As above, I registered for the card in November via a link that was sent from a friend in an email. A few days later I got the card in the mail. I actually applied for two cards so that my wife could have one as well (Action point: if you have a spouse or significant other, get them a card too on your account when you sign up to double your spending). I paid everything I could with the card, including some utilities that allowed it. FYI: Some online bill pay services do not allow you to pay with a credit card- but there is a way around this... including ways to pay your mortgage. Click here for another travel hacker's blog that goes over the details on how to pay your mortgage/rent with a credit card.
HOW YOU CAN DO IT TOO
Disclosure: Anyone who has this card can refer you for the 50,000 point offer. If you accept the referral from a friend and complete the spending, you get 50,000 points and your friend who referred you gets 5,000 points. So if I refer you, I will receive 5,000 points. Keeping everything above the table because I'm here to help you! Not the other way around.