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Travel Hacking: How to Fly for Little or Nothing—Even In First Class!

By August 5, 2020 September 15th, 2020 No Comments

What Is Travel Hacking?

The term travel hacking can be a bit misleading. It is not about dark computer screens littered with strings of code and secret passwords! Travel hacking is figuring out ways to do things more efficiently and to save money when you travel. If you become an expert travel hacker, you can travel a lot cheaper and sometimes even for free! Is travel hacking legal? Yes, it is. Simply put, travel hacking is making use of loyalty systems and rewards cards to earn points that in turn can get you perks like free travel.

How Do I Start Travel Hacking?

Starting with your travel hacking journey is as simple as signing up for hotel group loyalty cards and frequent flyer programs. Spend some time doing a bit of research into the various options. In this way, you can choose the program/s that will serve you best. 

The next most important step is to never again book a flight or stay in a hotel without earning rewards points for doing so. If a hotel that you stay at has a loyalty program, sign up for it. Get the points.

Does Travel Hacking Take a Lot of Time?

As with everything else in life, what you put in is what you get out. To get started, you do not have to put in oodles of hours. Travis Sherry from Extra Pack of Peanuts shares that after about 10 hours of study, you should be well equipped to make the best of frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards cards. As you go along, you can learn more about the different programs and how to best make use of them to earn cheap flights.

What Are the Best Airline and Flight Hacks?

Start your money-saving journey by looking for the best deal on each flight. How do I get the best deals on flights?

  • Use travel sites like Expedia, Kayak, or TripAdvisor to search for the lowest ticket prices.
  • Can you be flexible about your dates or the airports that you use? Searching through the alternatives can save you hundreds of dollars.
  • Have a look at Priceline to benefit from unpublished fares and hotel rooms.
  • If you are traveling internationally, check the destination airport to find out which airlines fly there. You might discover smaller airlines that do not show up on the aggregator sites. These could cost less than the major airlines.
  • Do not underestimate the powers of a travel agent. No harm in checking in with one to see if the ticket prices that they can find are more competitive.

How Do I Collect Frequent Flyer Miles?

Loyalty programs are designed with a purpose in mind, to gain a customer’s loyalty. Is there one airline that you prefer to travel with? Sign up for their frequent flyer miles program. As far as possible, always book your flights with the same airline and clock up rewards.

How Do I Maximize My Frequent Flyer Miles?

A great way to maximize your frequent flyer miles is to sign up for your chosen airline’s credit card. Depending on the rewards credit card, you can rack up rewards swiping for purchases at hotels, and even for fuel and grocery shopping.

If committing to one airline alone is not your thing, then an airline credit card is not your best option. Instead, investigate a generic travel rewards credit card. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Discover it® Miles.

How Do I Get First-Class Upgrades for Free?

Getting bumped up to first-class depends on your loyalty status and how often you fly. Other factors may come into play. For example, weather delays and how much you paid for your flight ticket. Airlines have several status tiers. Unsold first-class seats are awarded to passengers with the highest status.

How Do I Request an Airline Status Challenge?

Within a loyalty program, with increased status comes increased reward. In other words, the higher your status, the more points you earn per dollar spent. For most people, an increased status comes from the number of miles traveled or dollars spent. However, some airlines and rewards programs offer a way to fast track your increase in status. With some, you can simply buy status. With others, you can take on a points challenge. This entails earning a fixed number of air miles within a time frame of say 90 days.

How Do I Get Free Flights?

The quickest way to get a free flight is by choosing the right travel credit card. Some airline credit cards will award a sign-up bonus. These points could be enough to get you to, or close to, your first free flight!

After that, it is just a simple case of raking in frequent flyer miles for trips taken, hotel rooms booked, and items purchased. Keep an eye on your rewards points and cash them in for that free flight as soon as you have enough.

Our list of the best travel credit cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • Discover it® Miles
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® Credit Card

Some hotel rewards cards will allow you to trade your hotel rewards points for frequent flyer miles. Albeit at not quite the same rate of return. However, if you would rather use those points for a free airplane ticket than for a fancier hotel suite, why not!

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