How To Fly For Free Using Your Travel Hacking Skills
Have you ever wanted to fly to all those amazing places you’ve dreamt of? Perhaps the only reason you’ve been putting it all off is because you simply don’t think your budget can handle the strain. However, if you play your cards right, there’s a way that will let you to go anywhere in the world, anytime you desire. It’s called travel hacking, and we’re going to show you how to get the hang of it in no time flat.
What Is Travel Hacking And How Does It Work?
Basically, the whole point of hacking in this instance is to get as many frequent flyer points as possible while paying the least amount of money for them. It’s as simple as that, but it takes a bit of ingenuity and careful planning to pull it off in practice. The best way to get the most frequent flyer points is through credit card sign-up bonuses and by spending (as little as possible) money on credit cards. Travel hacking outside of your flights extends to lots of other things including your accommodation so don’t let it stop you here! Make sure to read other sections to find out how to get the rest of your trip cheaper too.
Get Bonus Points By Signing Up For Credit Card Loyalty Programs
Most major airlines and hotels will reward frequent customers with special loyalty programs. You do it by signing up for a new credit card and reaping the frequent flyer points that are offered as a sign-up bonus. The average number of points you can accumulate with a single sign-up varies between 30,000 and 50,000, so you get off to a great start. You also tend to earn points with every dollar that you spend on the card. This process is not for people that struggle with a budget or can’t help spending money when they have access to it. If that’s you, don’t read any further and instead read more about how to fly cheaply instead.
How To Receive And Manage Bonus Points On Your Credit Card
To receive these bonuses, you will need to spend a fixed amount on your card within a specified time. For example, a typical offer might involve earning 50,000 points for spending $5,000 in the space of three months. That’s not always the case, especially in countries like Australia where the minimum can be as little as $1. Read the fine print though!
Here’s how you maximise your points: You sign up for as many cards as your budget can handle.
Once you have the frequent flyer points from the sign-up bonus, the trick is to then use your points in the most efficient manner possible so as to get the maximum value from them. Once you’ve earned the bonus, you won’t even need to use that particular card again. However, you may wish to keep the account open as long as the bank doesn’t charge a fee.
What’s In It For The Banks?
At this point, you may well be suspicious. Why would banks agree to such a seemingly one-sided deal? What’s in it for them? The answer is quite simple: They want more customers. To accomplish their goal, they’ll pay you upfront for becoming one. They make money every time you use that card, whether from an ATM charge or other service fee and they’re relying on you being one of those people that rack up the debt because they can’t help but spend money. Again, if that sounds like you then don’t do this!
In addition, if you are late with a payment (and many customers are at least a few times a year), there’s a high late fee to pay. When you consider that most people use the same credit card for years at a time, you realise that the banks make far more from the deal in the long run.
However, you can still get the better end of the deal by getting the full bonus without incurring the long-term costs. The bonus points are the same for everyone, regardless of whether they become long term customers or not. The reason the deal is still so profitable for banks is because most people don’t know how to take full advantage of the opportunity they are being offered.
Keep Your Credit Score At A Maximum Level
It’s important to keep your credit score at the best possible level so that you can continue to apply for all the cards and other credit sources that will keep the frequent flyer points rolling in. These tips apply to most countries but may not be applicable to you so spend some time investigating. Some of the best ways to achieve a good credit rating include, but are not limited to:
• Always pay your bills in a timely fashion. Never, ever be more than 30 days late on a payment, or your credit score will suffer.
• Always keep your total costs to no more than 30 percent of your total credit line. If your line is $3,000, never spend more than $1,000. If you happen to go over, make a payment immediately.
• Keep your account on a card open as long as you can. The longer your credit history and the more cards you have a long history on, the better for your ultimate score.
• Mix up your sources of credit. For example, a student or business loan, a home mortgage, and multiple credit cards.
• Despite the above advice about loans, don’t apply for one just before you apply for a credit card. A loan application will temporarily knock 3-5 points off your total credit score. Wait until the points are reinstated, then go for another card.
How To Choose The Very Best Credit Cards For Bonus Points
When you are comparing the sign-up bonuses available for various credit cards, there are a number of factors that should be considered. These factors include the following:
• What type of points the card offers (Frequent flyer miles, hotel room discounts, etc.)
• How many points the card offers (The average is between 30,000 and 50,000)
• What the spending requirement is (How many more dollars you need to spend per cycle in order to qualify for additional points past the sign-up bonus)
• What benefits the card comes with
Look For Cards That Offer Transferable Points
It’s an excellent idea to look for cards that offer the option of transferring your bonus points from one program to another. Transferring your points across multiple reward programs gives you flexibility that you don’t get if the points can only be used in one place. If you mostly use one particular airline for your flights, it’s best to find a card that offers points specific to that airline.
How To Ace Your Credit Card Application
If you are ready to start applying for cards, here’s some handy advice on how to make the process as quick and painless as possible. This is where having that full-time job becomes an asset and not a burden for the people who dream of travel. While you’re in the job your chances of getting your credit card approved are way higher than if you’re not. This is the best time to get this program working and may make working for that dodgy boss worth it in the long run.
Always document the information that you provide when applying for a new card. You’ll need this information if you get denied and have to ask for a reconsideration. Jot down the application number as well as the phone number to call on the results page. You never know when that information might come in handy.
You’ve Submitted Your Application, Now What?
Once you submit your application, there are three possible outcomes: Approval, denial, or “decision pending.” If you get stuck with “decision pending”, you’ll need to have a bank employee scrutinise your application. If you get denied, you can still get the decision reversed by making a personal appeal to the reconsideration line. Many times, the denial is due to an error in your information or something that you forgot to write down.
How To Successfully Manage Your Credit Card Account
One of the most efficient ways to manage the multiple credit cards accounts you will need to rack up frequent flyer points is to set up an automatic payment system. This takes all of the guess work out of knowing when and where to make the proper payments. You simply need to remember to keep a sufficiently high balance in your bank to cover the various payments. It’s also an excellent idea to review your transactions on a regular basis. I pay for everything I can with my credit card so that I get the frequent flyer points. I also transfer my pay or any extra money over to that card so I’m never in debt. In fact, most of the time I’ve got a big surplus in that account so it takes the stress out of this for me.
How To Waive Your Annual Credit Card Fee
Most credit card companies charge an annual fee of roughly $100. Some companies will waive your first year’s fee, but will then stick to it thereafter. However, there’s an excellent chance that you can get them to waive it for good by simply threatening to close the account.
It’s much cheaper and easier for the bank to hold on to you than to spend time, effort, and money looking for a new customer. To keep you happy, the bank will very likely waive the fee, give you a statement credit, or even awarding you bonus points. This last gesture is a bit of a Trojan horse on the bank’s part. In order to get the extra points, you’ll often have to spend an additional amount of money. In most cases, the amount won’t be all that much. If they don’t come to the party then close the account and look for another deal elsewhere.
To keep track of when the year is up, make sure to add in an alert in your calendar or task app on your smartphone. I have mine ping me two weeks before the deadline just in case I’m off on a trip or something. The key to this entire thing is being organised otherwise you’ll end up paying for it in the end.
Successfully Managing Your Different Loyalty Accounts
Once you’ve got enough points from your various credit cards, it’s time to sign up for some loyalty accounts. You can use a number of tools, such as Award Wallet among many others, to keep efficient track of them all.
Make sure your points don’t expire before you use them. This can sometimes happen when you aren’t paying attention because most loyalty programs will require you to post activity in your account at least once per year in order to keep the points active. If you aren’t planning on using any points from a particular program, you can meet the required activity deadline by donating a few hundred points to the charity of your choice.
In my case I use Qantas for all my flights so I only use credit cards that offer points with them. In Australia, the above process is largely irrelevant because once the bank gives you the points they are in your Qantas account and free for you to do as you please. No management necessary.
How To Book Your First Free Flight
You can choose your first free flight from the website of your favourite airline or hotel chain. You’ll notice immediately that there will be different types of award tickets, as well as a generally limited availability. The very cheapest ones are called saver awards. As a first timer, these are the ones you want to use.
Whenever you use a new airline or stay at a new hotel, make sure to join their bonus program to start earning points the very first time you use them. It’s an excellent idea to check the website of that hotel or airline before you book to see if they are currently running any promotions that you can take advantage of to earn bonus points. It’s also worth noting that often while getting free flights through this process is the goal, upgrading using the points can be a better option. Sometimes I have the money to spend and just want to fly in comfort so that’s where I invest my points. It’s often much better value that way too.
How To Make The Most Of Your Credit Card Benefits
Many credit cards come with built-in benefits. These may include airline lounge access, free checked bags, priority check-in and travel insurance. Make sure to check your cards before you fly to see what benefits your card comes with. Educate yourself about the possible scenarios in which you can make the best use of those benefits (gaining access to VIP lounges at airport bars and the like). Before you apply for a card, make sure you know what kind of benefits are on offer. Choose the one with the most benefits that will cost you the least.
Be Aware Of The Safety Features On Your Credit Card
You should also be aware that credit cards often come with such important safety features as purchase protection, price protection and an extended warranty. These vital security features are in place to protect you in case you purchase a faulty product or if you are charged too high a price for a certain item. In some cases, you even merit price protection if you are at fault for causing an item to break or malfunction.
It pays to know your card rights. Among the most important points is that the burden of proof transfers to the credit card company when it comes to an unauthorised transaction. If you find a charge you didn’t authorise and dispute it, it’s up to the credit card company to prove it was you that made it. Otherwise, it’s on them to refund your money. This has saved me numerous times when I’ve travelled and had cards skimmed or outright stolen.
Be As Loyal As Possible To Your Favourite Chains
Now that you’ve read the basic parts of travel hacking, it’s time to put them into practice. One final tip: If you enjoy flying with a certain airline or staying at a certain hotel, make sure to use them as much as possible. This is the best way to earn the maximum points, as well as to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. I stick with Qantas and unless there’s no other choice I stay with them. Overall I’ve had loads of free flights and all it’s cost me is some time to manage and apply. If you’re the type of person who won’t manage this type of thing well please do yourself a favour and just don’t do it. It’s not worth it if you end up in debt for the sake of a free trip. If you think you can manage this then go crazy. It’s one of the best ways to open up the world and be able to do it without breaking the bank or staying in a crummy job you hate for too long.