You can see the world without breaking the bank.
Traveling isn’t cheap and a lot of times the flights are the most expensive part. It’s even worse when you have a family. One plane ticket isn’t too bad, but 4? 5? it adds up fast and can quickly become unaffordable. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The solution I’ve found is something that people told me to stay away from all my life: Credit Cards.
No, not putting your trip on credit cards and racking up debt that you’ll pay off for the next year or two. The trick is making credit cards work for you in a process called Travel Hacking.
Most credit card companies have bonuses to encourage you to apply for their card, and almost every airline these days has a card offering free frequent flyer miles. Travel Hacking involves rotating through the best mileage reward offers, card after card, in order to earn as many miles as you need so you never have to buy another plane ticket.
With Travel Hacking we’ve been to:
- and more to come!
So what is this sorcery?
It works like this:
- You sign up for a credit card, get approved and get your card in the mail. Some cards are airline or hotel specific (Southwest, Delta) while others allow you to transfer their miles to a variety of airlines and hotels (Chase, Citibank). Each have their benefits, it just comes down to where you want to go and who you prefer to fly with.
- Now you have a limited time period (usually 3 months) in order to reach a spending requirement to earn those miles. They’re not just going to hand them over for nothing! You can do so by putting all of your bills on it, using it for your business or for big expenses like a wedding or renovation. This requirement varies from card to card, but it tends to be between $1-4,000.
- Pay off your balance every month. This is one of the most important parts. If you have to pay interest, those miles you’re earning aren’t really free!
- The statement month after you reach the spending requirement, your miles will be added to your account. Now you’re ready to fly! You will still have to pay any fees, but if you’re staying in the US that only means an extra $5.60 per segment, as low as $11.20 for a round trip flight. (Overseas flights tend to have extra surcharges depending on the airlines that can add up to $100’s)
- You’re not quite done yet! Each of these cards comes with a yearly fee. While usually waived for the first year, you will have to pay it the next year and it can add up as time goes on. It’s best to wait until right before the year point to cancel the card, but don’t forget to transfer your miles to an airline first!
And that’s it, it’s not too complicated and the results can be amazing!
Some people hold multiple cards at once and rack up hundreds of thousands of miles each year while others only do one card a year. Travel Hacking is great even if you just want the freedom to visit friends and family more often. You can do it at your own pace in a way that works best for you and your family.
I haven’t yet heard of anyone who regretted trying it, but there are a few reasons it might not be best for you:
- If you’re bad with credit cards. If you can’t help but get close to your credit limit stay away. It’s not worth the debt.
- If you can’t reach the spending requirement. If you’re worried, start small and figure out what you can handle. Take a look at your budget and figure out what’s reasonable. It’s not worth the risk if you can’t get the bonus.
- If you hate traveling cheaply. Well, then why are you even reading this?
If you can qualify for the cards, meet the requirements and keep from overspending, there’s no reason that expensive plane tickets should get in the way of your adventures. Good luck and happy travels!
If you have any questions leave a comment or email me at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you. I’m always more than happy to help people get out and travel the world. To see how the first year of Travel Hacking worked for us, head over Travel Hacking: Year One.
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