Anatomy of a Free Audition
You go to the musicalchairs website and see your dream job posted. You submit your perfectly polished résumé and wait for a response. Two weeks later you receive the email that you’re invited! You print out the audition repertoire list and start practicing several hours a day, but there’s still one caveat – how do you get to the audition without going broke? Here’s how I took an audition for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra a few months ago and paid a total of $11 on travel.
One of the primary ways I travel for free is with credit card sign up bonuses. Bear with me, it’s not as sketchy as it sounds and won’t destroy your credit. If you’re responsible with your finances, credit card sign up bonuses can be an incredibly lucrative way to travel for free. In my next post, I’ll explain how you can leverage credit cards to actually increase your credit score. The first card I signed up for with the intent of earning valuable points was the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Actually, I initially applied for it to have a card that waived foreign transaction fees because my wife was about embark on a month-long research trip in France and I didn’t want her to pay those pesky 3% fees.
The first year is free and it comes with a sign up bonus of 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (a fancy term for transferable reward points), plus 5,000 bonus points for adding an authorized user, after spending $4,000 in 3 months. After you meet the spending requirement (that number sounds daunting, but there are several ways to reach it without changing your spending habits), you’ll have at least 49,000 points. The great thing about these points is that you can either redeem them for cash (at a 1 point = 1 cent rate, so 49,000 points = $490 you can pocket) or transfer them to one of Chase’s many valuable partners to stretch their value. The partners include:
InterContinental Hotels Group
In order to have the option to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to partners, you need to hold either the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Plus business cards. These all transfer at a 1:1 ratio and I’ll focus right now on the two partners that I used for this specific audition: Southwest and Hyatt.
I love Southwest for auditions because of the flexibility with their tickets. Something changed with your work or school schedule and you need to audition the next day or can’t make it? No change or cancellation fees. You need to check two bags for this audition? No baggage fees. I have friends who book multiple return tickets with Southwest for auditions that occur over multiple days. If they don’t advance the first day, they’ll fly back on the first ticket (usually that evening) and cancel their second ticket. If they do advance, they’ll cancel the first ticket and take the second ticket. When cancelling a ticket, you receive the entire ticket back as a credit for a future flight.
For this audition in Indianapolis the audition was going to be over 3 days: 1 day of prelims, 1 day of the remaining prelims and semi-finals, and 1 day of finals. The finals would be held in the evening of the third day after the orchestra rehearsed in the morning. I was assigned a time in the morning of the 2nd day for my prelim round, so I needed to be there for 3 nights. I booked a roundtrip from Houston Hobby to Indianapolis for 7,814 miles each way with Wanna Get Away Fares (the cheapest option of the three). I transferred 16,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to cover the cost of the flights. There were government taxes and fees of $5.60 each way ($11.20 total). Bam, flights taken care of. Next on the docket? A place to stay.
Stay tuned for part two and feel free to ask any questions!