Travel Hacking will get you free flights around the world along with a few other nifty perks including first-class upgrades, lounge clubs with complimentary meals and drinks, free Wi-Fi, purchase reimbursements, and even upgrades to your hotel room.
The term travel hacking is used to describe clever strategies to acquire enormous numbers of frequent flyer miles and hotel points, without having to spend much money or take a bunch of flights. If you choose to fly to earn your miles, then see how to save big with online travel auctions.
The great news is that there are no high-tech skills needed. However, you will need a bit of diligence, creativity, and definitely some organization. As a consumer, it is always in your best interest to do your due diligence when it comes to travel. Check out how to avoid getting scammed by vacation packages.
Travel Hacking For Frequent Flyer Miles
The single most important element in travel hacking is an excellent credit score. Before you begin your new mileage hacking pastime, you will want to check your credit scores to make sure they are where they need to be. Your score should be at least 650, but preferably should be over 700. The higher your credit score, the better.
To check your credit scores for free, head to AnnualCreditReport.com and download all three of your credit reports. Once you have your reports, you can repair any derogatory marks, close any dormant accounts, and set all your credit cards on auto-pay to pay off any remaining balances. For additional advice on improving your credit score, check out MyFico.com.
Join The Major Reward Programs
Travel hacking involves joining the major frequent flyer and hotel reward programs. These programs will not only give you points, but some of the immediate benefits include various discounts, VIP perks, and access to an extensive network of travel companies.
Begin your search for Airlines and hotels that offer reward programs including American Airlines, Delta, United, British Airways, and Southwest (best U.S. domestic carrier for miles), Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, IHG, and Club Carlson. Each time you book a flight or a hotel, be sure to ask if they are part of one of these programs, to accumulate points whenever possible.
How To Earn Miles
The easiest and most efficient way to quickly get lots of points is by signing up for credit cards (hence, the excellent credit score). Some of the best airline and hotel cards will offer anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 points as a sign-up bonus. Usually, there is a spending minimum in the first few months, but if you put every purchase and bill on your new card, the numbers will quickly add up.
There are also some brokerage firms that offer airline miles just for transferring your assets. Some of the firms to check out include Schwab, Scottrade, TD, E-trade, and Fidelity. The transfer is “in kind,” so you don’t actually sell any assets which mean there is no tax liability or risk.
Travel Hacking Requires Organization
Organization is a must in travel hacking. It helps you keep track of the credit cards you’ve signed up for and the amount of purchases that you have on each card. You can use a Google or Excel spreadsheet to track your credit card applications. Include the following information on your spreadsheet: Application date, date to hit the minimum spend, the number of points you will earn, benefits of the card, if you can add an extra card holder for extra points, and an offer code if applicable.
There are some excellent online services, such as Award Wallet Pro that will track your account balances so you can see them all in one place and give you tips on how to earn more miles. They will also alert you if any of your rewards are about to expire.
Travel hacking will take some diligence in figuring out what works, what are the best airlines and hotels that offer the most rewards, so don’t get dismayed if you haven’t accumulated one million miles in the first month. Stick with it and you will be jetting off to a tropical beach before you know it without spending a dime!