One of the things I now absolutely despise to do in life is pay for flights. Getting perfect information about the Budget Friendly Adventures can make your life easier than ever before when planning for a trip. It almost hurts my feelings when I must do so. While I haven’t fully mastered the process to get them all for free, I’ve done a fairly good job at least making sure my major, long-haul flights are bought and paid for by someone else (no not a man..lol) but rather by credit card points and rewards.
The term for this is called Travel Hacking. It’s not illegal but rather is a win-win for both you and the credit card companies. You must be sensible and wise when you use this strategy, but you can travel around the world if you use it in the right way!
Things You Need To Know About Budget Friendly Adventures
Step 1: Know Your Credit Score
The first step is to take a look at your credit score. If your score is low, this strategy isn’t going to work for you, but if it’s at least made it to the “good” category, you’re cooking with grease. So, once you know your score and understand what you’re working with, you can begin to investigate the cards that will best meet your travel needs, and match your score, and you are willing to accept the annual fee associated with the card.
So, let’s get down to it. How do you get free travel? Well, you generally acquire that 1 of 2 ways. You either acquire the points through amazing sign-up bonuses or you earn points on your daily spending habits. Budget Friendly Adventures: Say you pay your rent through your credit card every month. At a minimum, you should earn 1 point per dollar spent. If your rent is $1,500 a month, you’ve just earned 1,500 points towards your next trip, add in several hundred for groceries (which in many circumstances are 2-3x the points per dollar spent) and gas, and you are well on your way to your next plane ticket.
While monthly spending will add up, my focus for this discussion will be on the bulk of the points that you receive during the sign-up process. If you have at least good credit, you can expose yourself to some pretty awesome sign-up bonuses.
Step 2: Sign-up Bonuses
The credit cards we will look at today are ones that fall into that category. You could run around signing up for every credit card you see, but you could end up ruining your credit very quickly. Budget Friendly Adventures: My goal is to help you navigate this process a bit and lead you to the next step of further research into the topic of Travel Hacking and getting those flights for free. Before we can take a look at which cards would be best for your needs, you must understand your goals.
Step 3: Understanding Your Goal
Knowing where you want to go or stay will help you to determine which cards are the best for your needs. Getting a card with American Airlines may not be of much use to you if you are flying into an international location where American doesn’t fly. In this instance, if you know you want to fly to, let’s say Morocco, you will take a look at which airlines fly into this location (preferably on a direct route), and then identify the carrier that could take you there.
The major carriers in the US, in most circumstances, have a credit card associated with them. American, United, Delta, Southwest, etc. You can also look at other carriers outside of the US, such as Qantas or Emirates.
Budget Friendly Adventures: Once you know the carrier, you can check out the credit cards affiliated with that particular airline. You may find that the sign-up bonus is pretty crappy (50K or below) if the airline is not really focused on acquiring new credit card customers at that time. If it’s above 50K (hopefully at least 80K), you are looking at a much better deal.
Depending on where you are trying to fly to, you may end up with 3 roundtrip domestic tickets with 80K points or at least 1 international flight. If your goal is 1st class, well, you’ll definitely have to work hard to find the very best deals. While I’d love a 1st class ticket and could possibly acquire 1 ticket with 1 credit card sign-up, I’d much rather have 3 free flights than focus on 1st Class, but that preference is up to you.
Get detailed information about Layover Flight Rules: How to Make the Most of Your Layover
So, what happens if the airline’s bonus is less than 50K? Well, personally, I would say you keep looking! As a Budget Friendly Adventures: I’d recommend that you begin to look for cards that are an all-inclusive type of card that acquire points but aren’t tied directly to an airline. With airline-specific cards, you’ll generally receive more perks, such as a free piece of luggage on your flights or priority boarding, but with an all-around card, you’ll find the flexibility to use the points for flights, hotels, or a variety of other things.
I’ve made this recommendation to several of my friends and family, and they’ve all received several free round-trip tickets to places like Rome, Cancun, and Iceland. I personally was able to book my one-way flight from Miami to Barcelona and still have enough points for my one-way ticket home from anywhere in Europe.
I wanted to know that if I got over here, I’d have the points waiting on me when I chose to head back. The flight abroad cost me a whole $5.60 (fees/tax). Not bad if I do say so myself. Once you are abroad, you can hop on domestic flights like you do when you are stateside (which is actually very affordable) or a train (if In Europe or the UK). I’d much rather pay the cost to fly domestically over the high international prices.
Step 4: Review Requirements
Budget Friendly Adventures: Review the sign-up requirements for each of the cards. If a card has an amazing sign-up bonus but a ridiculous annual fee, you need to weigh the value of what freebies you would get by having the card. Are their phone discounts and allowances, free annual nights at the hotel’s locations, or priority lounge access at the airports worth the cost of the annual fee? If you are already paying for the lounges when you take a trip, you may find the lounges add value to your life.
If you couldn’t care less about using them, this may not be a perk that would add value to you. So, take it all into consideration when you make your choice. One other major factor you must note is how much you need to spend to get the points. Each card typically has a requirement of at least spending $3k in the first several months of signing up. Of course, they are hoping you don’t pay off your balance (but you need to so you don’t end up paying huge amounts of interest that could negate the reason you are trying to acquire free travel to begin with).
Step 5: Find Your Airline
Now that you know where you want to go, which airlines fly there, and which cards can get you there and have the best value, you’re ready to pick which one(s) you want and sign up for. If you choose to sign up for one card, one bit of advice is that you may want to sign up for two on the same day. This way, your credit only gets dinged once for that given day. There’s a lot to the strategy, but before beginning any travel hacking, do your research before you start signing up for a ton of cards. You need to know and understand what you are getting into before you start.
Step 6: Minimum Spend
Once you receive your card(s), activate it and meet your minimum spend. Try to charge only what you normally would charge in your typical day-to-day so you do not overspend to try to hit your required spend amount. Budget Friendly Adventures: You need to make sure you keep track of that end date as well—if you need to spend $3k in 3 months, make sure you do this, or you won’t receive your sign-up bonus. Then you have an extra credit card without the main perk.
Step 7: Research Your Trip
Once you have acquired the points from your day-to-day spending, research how to use your points and purchase your ticket to your ideal location!
Step 8: Have Fun!
Have a blast on your trip, and know you got this one for free ;-).
Always remember to Travel Till You Drop!