Have you heard of travel hacking? No? Well, I’m gonna open up your world then baby! In this post I’ll go through how to get yourself a bunch of airmiles or frequent flyer points each year, enough to get free flights, and all without actually flying in the first place!
First of all; You should all register for frequent flyer programs. Its free to sign up and over time you’re gonna be earning points little by little to build for free flights. Sign up whenever you’re about to fly with a new airline and add it to your awardwallet account (worth getting for convenience). Then you’ve got all the information about your different frequent flyer programs in the same place 😉
So, what is travel hacking? It is the practice, no, ‘the art’, of getting air mile or frequent flyer points and using them to score yourself free travel. Flying is a major part of one of the big 3 of travel expenses (food, getting around and accommodation) so if you can take it out of the equation, you’ll save a bunch!
Let’s cut to the chase. How does one get these frequent flyer points or ‘miles’ (for the American travellers)? The answer. Credit Cards. *cue grimaces* But credit cards cost us you say! Read on…
We spend money all the time. Why not use that money to get us something worthwhile in addition to whatever we’re spending it on? This is where having a credit card, or better yet multiple credit cards comes in. Please note though, it’s all fine and well having them, but if you don’t pay them off on time or spend more than you have then you’re crazy, and you’ll find yourself in an unhappy situation. Be responsible. Credit card companies make a lot of their money from people being negligent and not paying on time… That’s not gonna be you! And because of that, you’re gonna be the winner of the arrangement 😉
Many credit companies, especially those affiliated with airline companies, come with a starting bonus of airline miles or points. Not all of them are good. And there is definitely not a plethora of good ones on the market at any one time. The best strategy is to keep an eye out for them and when you see one you like jump on it.
Below are a few I think are worthwhile that are currently on the market…
For the Aussie traveller:
Citi Qantas Signature Card
70,000 bonus points is not to be sniffed at! The reduced annual fee is also a score, as well as the complimentary insurance. There’s a few trivial bonus things to like complimentary wine and airport lounge visits, but hey, they don’t hurt! On the down side you need a lot of money to have this card L
For example it is out of many young travellers reach because you need to show you have an income of over $75,000 per year. Still, if you’re planning to quite your job or you’re just looking for a long holiday from your job this could be the card for you!
For the Brit abroad:
British Airways American Express
This card is much more obtainable for the budget traveller with no annual fee and a sign on bonus of 9000 avios points! You can fly to pretty much any destination in Europe from London with that!
It’s not super rewarding, but on the plus side there’s not really any catches to it, so it’s not too bad a deal for the time being.
For the American (I could list a lot of cards here… damn your countries economic might)
Chase Credit Card
No foreign transaction fees. 60000 bonus points. 5 points per $1 spent. Just a $95 annual fee… Damn it America why can’t you have a card like this for us Aussies!
Now, a few of you who may have followed these links will now be asking – BUT I HAVE TO SPEND $3000+ IN THE FIRST 3 MONTHS!!! Rest assured, the shoestring traveller has considered this. So, how do you get around this issue?
Kinda defeats the purpose of getting these frequent flyer points if you gotta spend right? True… sorta… There are ways to very easily spend that amount of money. Please refer to the dot points below:
- Pay your taxes with them (tax bills can be pretty big, and here is one way to smash through that 3000+ sum!)
- Pay for group dinners (put bills on your card and have your friends reimburse you). Statistically this works out even more financially rewarding as groups of people always tend to round up, meaning you’ll get more in cash relative to how much you’re paying on your card!
- Time your big spends. So you need to spend 3k. Get your card before you get that new laptop, camera, bike, or whatever other big spend that might be coming up.
- Buy things for friends who are about to make a big purchase. Friends are there to help each other so I’m sure you’ll have some friend or family who need a new table or something. You can pay and they’ll give you the cash back. Simples 🙂
So… That’s how you use credit cards to get airline points, which in turn let you buy those free flights. A note to the reader. I am not a big user of this style of air travel. I feel often for the amount of hassle it is not worth my time investment, especially as an Australian where the deals are just not as good. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it again with a credit card should a good deal come up though! However, you can still save on flights in a big way using other techniques which I’ll write about in my blog in the coming months or you can find in my book, Travelling on a Shoestring. It’s available on Amazon Kindle store 🙂