TRAVEL HACKING 101: HOTELS
Here is a step by step guide on how to stay at 5-star resorts only paying the taxes and fees! The steps to acquire and use points is basically the exact same as my description of how to get free flights. So if you’ve already read that, skim through to the “May favorite cards” part for a few great ideas to get yourself started. If you haven’t read the guide on getting airline miles, here is Travel hacking 101- Hotels.
WHAT AM I GETTING MYSELF INTO/WHAT’S THE CATCH?
Travel hacking can be a simple or 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 hotel points in exchange for a minimum spend on the credit card. A minimum spend is almost always an amount between $0-$5,000 within three months (some are higher but let’s focus on these first) with most minimum spending requirements being between 1k and 3k. So to break it down 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 for hotel points (these offers change often so make sure to do your own homework):
Hyatt credit card- Two free nights at ANY of their hotels including 5 star hotels like the Hyatt Tokyo and Hyatt Paris when the minimum spend has been reached. I used my two free nights at the Park Hyatt Vendome’ in Paris which saved me over 1,700 dollars!
Mariott rewards card – 50,000 points when the minimum spend has been achieved.
Hilton Honors Card- 40,000 points when minimum spend has been met.
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 they 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’s about 7 months before 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. Go to the website for your specific card and click “Login”->”Redeem points”. It’s really as simple as that.
STEP SIX: TELL EVERYONE TO FLY FOR FREE LIKE YOU!
Instagram,Facebook, postcards, carrier pigeons, scream it from a rooftop bar in Bangkok. Oh! Also share this on social media so you don’t have to explain it to them.