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I Use This Travel Card to Pay My Son’s $1,300 Day Care Bill. Now Its Rewards Are Sending Us to Disney

The rewards won't cover all of the trip, but it's a big help.

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Child care for my toddler is expensive. And a trip to Disney World feels like a fortune. So imagine trying to comfortably afford a trip to “the happiest place in the world,” as some call it. But after years of diving into personal finance, I found a way.

For years, I only had one cash-back credit card that didn’t really add up much for travel savings. But I found out many travel credit cards come with perks that can. So I got my first travel card, and it changed the game for my family.

Now, I’m putting utilities and everyday expenses on my card to earn rewards. But the biggest bill -- my son’s monthly day care expense -- is helping us afford a trip for him to see Mickey and his friends. Here’s how. 

How I chose my first travel rewards credit card 

There are plenty of cards to choose from, but I wanted a travel credit card that already aligned with my spending and had an annual fee that was less than $100. Based on my preferred travel brands and spending categories, I narrowed it down to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Plus, the card comes with a few perks I can use, including an annual $50 hotel credit that can be applied toward hotel stays booked through the Chase Travel℠ portal. Here’s a glimpse at the card’s details. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

8.6/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
60,000 bonus points Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
Annual fee
21.49% – 28.49% Variable
Rewards rate
1x – 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠.; 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries.; 2x on all other travel purchases.; 1x on all other purchases.
Rewards Rate
5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠.
3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries.
2x on all other travel purchases.
1x on all other purchases.

How the points are helping me save money on travel

With my first credit card, I only paid for utilities and streaming subscriptions. But by the time I got the Sapphire Preferred, I felt more confident about managing money. I put my biggest expense on the card -- my son’s $1,300-per-month day care bill.

Before earning points, I was earning cash back on my son’s day care bill but it wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile to me. The $1,300 was only adding up to $26 in cash back each month. Now, I’m still only earning 1 reward point for each dollar I spend on day care with my Sapphire Preferred card. But here’s the benefit: If I book flights or hotels using Chase Travel, I can redeem the rewards at 1.25%. 

Let’s do the math. 

Right now, I have 38,000 points with 8,000 points pending, for a total of 46,000 points. If I redeem the points on the Chase Travel portal, the points could be worth $575.

If I booked a round-trip flight to Orlando for my son’s Disney trip through Chase Travel today, I’d pay $33 for one of the tickets (not including taxes and fees). Note that the flight was originally $511 for Dec. 26 to 30, which is a big difference for a family of four.

If I wait to book a flight until October, I’ll have paid for five more months of day care by then. Since the bill is $1,300 (assuming the price doesn’t go up), I estimate I’ll earn another 6,500 points, for a total of 52,500 points with an estimated value of $656 when redeemed through Chase Travel. This isn’t enough to cover the entire trip, but it’s a big help. And that doesn’t include other points I’ll earn for other purchases.


If you’re eyeing the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn a 10% anniversary bonus based on your total spend for the previous year. The bonus offers one point per $1. For instance, if I only paid for my son’s day care using the card, my total $15,600 would earn me an extra 1,560 points (worth approximately $19.50 more toward travel if booking through Chase Travel).

Aside from the Chase Travel portal, I can also transfer the points to one of Chase’s travel partners, such as Marriott Bonvoy -- we’re already loyalists. The 52,000 can be transferred to my Bonvoy account to add to other points we’ve accumulated from booking with Marriott to help cover our stay in Florida. While I won’t be able to redeem at 1.25%, I’m still OK with the savings even if it’s at a rate of 1% per dollar. 

What to know before you apply

I’ve been following the same strategy for a little over a year now with the Sapphire Preferred. And it has certainly fast-tracked my travel goals compared to my flat-rate 2% cash-back card. But beware of any additional fees for paying with a credit card. For my child care provider, that’s 3%. I don’t mind it, but always check beforehand to avoid any surprises.


And like any credit card, it’s important to pay the card in full and on time every month to avoid any interest that could wipe out the value of your reward earnings.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Dashia is a staff editor for CNET Money who covers all angles of personal finance, including credit cards and banking. From reviews to news coverage, she aims to help readers make more informed decisions about their money. Dashia was previously a staff writer at NextAdvisor, where she covered credit cards, taxes, banking B2B payments. She has also written about safety, home automation, technology and fintech.
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