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Travel Hacking 101: Flights

Published:
June 29, 2018

TRAVEL HACKING 101 (FLIGHTS):

Here is a guide to start you on your path to getting free flights around the world. I do not get any commission from credit card companies so you can be sure that I have used the cards myself and would never suggest anything that I have not actually done. I currently have over 50 credit cards and over 100,000,000 miles! My credit score has gone up above 760 despite what people (non-travel hackers) told me would happen.  I Just booked a flight from Peru to Rome for $63 and a flight to Hawaii for less than $6. This stuff really works people, and it’s not difficult!

WHAT AM I GETTING MYSELF INTO/WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Travel hacking can be a simple or a very complicated hobby. I’ll show you the simple side first, beginning with what basic travel hacking for free flights is: You apply for a credit card that offers a bonus of airline miles in exchange for a minimum spend on the card within 90 days. A minimum spend is almost always an amount between $500-$5,000 (some are higher but let’s focus on the basics for now) within three months, with most minimum spending requirements being between 1k and 3k.  So I’ll break it down for you in the simplest way I know how:

STEP ONE: APPLY FOR A CREDIT CARD

There are a lot of options for airline credit cards with different offers. I suggest a quick google search to compare credit cards with the best sign up bonuses and minimum spend requirements. Its very simple for your first couple credit cards: Which card has the most points for the lowest minimum spending requirements? Here are my favorite cards (these offers change often so make sure to do your own homework):

Chase Sapphire reserve

50,000 miles for a $4,000 minimum spend within 90 days. There is a $450 annual fee BUT they give you a $300 travel credit and plenty of great perks as well!

Chase Mileage Plus Explorer card  

50,000 Miles for a $3,000 minimum spend. You also get two free United club passes per year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

50,000 miles after a $4,000 minimum spend within 90 days

Citi American Airlines Advantage Platinum Select card

50,000 after $3,000 spent within 90 days

Hawaiian Airlines card

35,000 miles for $1,000 spent within 90 days

Delta Skymiles card

30,000 miles for a  $1,000 minimum spend AND $50 statement credit

Alaskan Airlines card

30,000 miles after $1,000 in the first 90 days.

American Express Premier Gold Rewards Card

50,000 points for $5,000 in spending

Chase Ink business preferred card

80,000 points for $5,000 spent within 90 days

STEP TWO: MEET THE MINIMUM SPENDING REQUIREMENT

Never spend a dollar that doesn’t get you closer to a bonus. You don’t need to spend any extra money. Use the card for gas, groceries and everything in between. Some people will pre pay their car insurance or other creative ways that I’ll cover in an advanced tutorial to meet their minimum spending requirements. Basically all credit cards give you 90 days to meet the minimum requirement.

STEP THREE: PAY THE CARD OFF ON TIME EVERY MONTH

There is a reason that travel hacking is not frowned upon by the airlines supplying these credit cards. Enough people don’t pay off their cards on time and the credit card companies make money. Be a big boy or big girl and pay it off on time. No exceptions.

STEP FOUR: WAIT FOR THE POINTS TO SHOW UP IN YOUR ACCOUNT

This is the part that is no fun. It takes anywhere from one to two months on average for your points to post to your account. Meaning you can’t book any flights because your account has a zero balance. So when planning a trip you need to think: I need 3 months to meet the minimum spending requirement, 2 months to have the points post to my account and then I want to book the flight early enough to make sure there are still seats available for a reasonable amount of points. That about 7 months before you go on a trip!

STEP FIVE: USE THE POINTS SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

Here is the second reason the credit card companies don’t mind travel hackers. Within the two months of waiting for their points, they push the miles and that credit card into the back of their heads. Life gets busy and it’s easier than you’d think to forget about the points.

STEP SIX: TELL EVERYONE TO FLY FOR FREE LIKE YOU!

Instagram, Facebook, postcards, carrier pigeons, scream it from a rooftop bar in Bangkok. Oh and share this on social media so you don’t have to explain it to them.

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