With the Boston Marathon registration opening yesterday, there are many excited runners who now have their applications in or will throughout the week as the tiered process continues. Now that the hard part of qualifying and registering is out of the way, you can focus on actually getting there!
Believe it or not, the traveling to the Boston Marathon can be a real wallet-hurter. There have been estimates that place the travel costs for runners in the Boston Marathon at $1,400 (on average). It is not hard to get over $1,000 in travel costs – just traveling domestically! Of course, when a runner qualifies for the Boston Marathon, it feels almost essential to actually run it. But, with airfare, ground transportation, and hotels, that can become difficult for some. But, even if it is not difficult for you, wouldn’t it be a lot better to be able to pocket that $1,000+ and use it for something else?
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Getting “Free” Travel to the Boston Marathon
This is what Running with Miles tries to do – help the runner run more races in more places for less. With the Boston Marathon being such an iconic race, it beckons (or even demands) the qualified runner to be at the starting line. Over the next couple of weeks, I will show you how easy it is to get “free” travel to the Boston Marathon. Sure, we talk about traveling with miles and points all the time here, but I do want to have some special attention paid to you that have run such fantastic times to qualify for this race.
Is It Really “Free” Travel?
For sure, miles and points open up the world to us when it comes to travel. It is completely possible (and easy) to travel to the other side of the globe with the points earned from one credit card. So, why do I say “free”? Well, there are going to be some costs – the taxes and fees on award tickets are unavoidable, there may be an annual fee on a certain card, etc. To get a real breakdown on what some costs may be, check this post I wrote last year.
In spite of that, I do think it is fair to think of award travel (especially domestic) as pretty much free travel, especially since some people might choose to use their Barclaycard Arrival* to pay for those taxes and thereby redeem the miles against them.
What Do You Need?
Ok, if you are planning on traveling to the Boston Marathon, you are most likely going by car or plane. I will cover some car opportunities at some point, but the focus will be helping the runner who will be traveling by plane. After you get there, you will need a hotel. You also may require transportation by car once there, but most of the hotels I will talk about are very convenient and you should have no problem getting around without a car.
Are you going alone? If not, how many people will be going with you? Once you get over 3 people (or so), it will become a bit more difficult to put it together, so figure that out.
How long do you plan on staying? Boston can be an expensive city to stay in when it comes to hotels. It can even be expensive as far as points. So, it will be a good idea to decide now how long you actually plan on staying there. If you are staying for more than 6 days, the strategy in accumulating points will need to be a little bit more aggressive.
Obviously, the best way to get miles and points is with credit cards. I do my best to choose credit cards for myself and those I help that can give the maximum amount of miles/points for your purpose so that the amount of cards you need to worry about is smaller. But, to get the miles and points you need, you will still need to apply for some credit cards, so it is a good idea to know what you credit looks like before you jump in. For most cards, if you have over a 720+ credit score, that will put you in a good position to be approved. However, banks also look at the amount of your revolving credit is currently in use and how much credit you have as they attempt to establish your creditworthiness.
To find out what your credit score is, you can use one of the free services like Credit Sesame* that will give you a number that is not the same as FICO, but will give you an idea if you are in the ballpark. If you currently have a Barclaycard credit card, you can also access your FICO score for free by logging into your account after clicking here.
Get The Credit Cards!
In the upcoming days, I will layout some of the best offers and what might be the best options depending on where you are traveling from. We will also look at hotels that would provide the best positioning for your memorable race!
When applying for cards, the conventional wisdom is to apply for a few different cards on one day to minimize the affect that credit inquiries have on your credit score. They still report, but the posting of those queries is often not until the next day. By doing the applications on one day, the banks will not necessarily see the reporting of the other applications. Yes, credit inquiries take a minor hit (a couple of points) on your score, but when you are approved for the card(s), the cards actually help you by giving you additional credit (which lowers your utilization) and that is good!
Because of that, I will not be suggesting any cards in this post as I do not want you to apply today and then want to apply for another card I talk about next week. Granted, there is plenty of time before the race, but it can be a big help to lock in your travel as soon as possible because award availability does disappear!
So, stay tuned for more Boston Marathon travel posts in the coming weeks so that you can get your free travel done and out of the way!