Flying for free? It sounds too good to be true, which is why I so often get asked to explain how I manage to do it so often. I’ve traveled the world several times now — often in first class — and have managed to do so without ever breaking the bank.
The truth of the matter is that there really is no secret to flying for free. What it comes down to is an ability to use your points correctly. If you are new to using points to fly for free, we’ve come up with 5 awesome travel hacks that will help you along in your journey.
These are hacks that I live by and consistently use to get the most bang for my travel buck. If you love to travel, this is the perfect way to do it without going broke in the process.
Hack #1: Take advantage of credit card offers.
By no means am I saying that you should screw up your credit for a couple of free flights? I am saying, however, that many credit card companies that offer travel rewards will give you points towards a plane ticket when you use the card for everyday purchases. What does this mean, exactly? It means that you can go grocery shopping, buy clothes, go out to dinner, and visit a movie theater with friends and still earn points towards your next free flight.
Arguably the best thing about these cards is that they come with a slew of other perks, like free checked bags and admission to private airport lounges, as well. Not only will you be flying for free, but you’ll be flying in style simply by spending money on things that you needed to purchase anyway.
Hack #2: Enroll yourself in frequent traveler programs.
If you pair these with credit cards, you are guaranteed to build up your points slowly. Not only will you receive points with every purchase you make towards your vacation, but you’ll also receive sporadic offers to earn extra points on the side. For example, assuming you were a JetBlue member, you may receive an email with an offer to complete a survey and receive points. Although this may not look like much in the beginning, it will inevitably add up, especially if paired with other hacks.
Hack #3: Know your airline alliances.
No, this doesn’t mean that you should form an alliance with one airline and only one airline, though we do recommend that you stick to a few rewards programs to fully utilize your point earning. Many airlines have alliances within each other which allow members (that’s you!) to maximize your points by using them with other companies. For example, you can take the airline miles that you’ve earned with American Airlines and use them to purchase a ticket on Finnair because they are under the same alliance program.
Hack #4: Don’t be afraid to use the internet to your advantage.
You are not in this alone. There are plenty of fellow flight hackers out there, many who are struggling to find the best deals right along with you. I recommend using websites like FlyerMiler, which shows you which partners fly to the destination you are headed. Not only will you know which flights are the cheapest, but you can then set up your flight information through airline alliance programs to come up with the best option without having to go through a million different websites. This saves you time, stress, and probably a few dozen gray hairs.
Hack #5: Take a status challenge.
If you want to move up to elite status with your rewards program easily, you can ask about the possibility of taking a status challenge. Basically, you will pay a fee and be given a mission (Fly X amount of miles within 90 days). If you complete the mission, you are automatically bumped up to the next status. If you don’t, you lose. This only works if you have the time and money to put down and commit to the challenge, but it is a really great (and fun) way to move up and get more free flights and perks.