by Drew Macomber,
There are many ways to travel for free but the best way that I’ve discovered is working the frequent flyer mile system. By understanding the ins and outs, you find the gaps. Here are 6 ways you can travel for free too!
1.Get some travel credit cards. Not just to be rewarded for your spending but even for the sign up bonuses. Between my wife and I, we earn more than a million miles a year just from credit card sign up bonuses. This isn’t a joke or a scam. Right now credit card companies are fighting for your loyalty because they charge 3% on every transaction. Some credit card bonuses have been as high as 100,000 miles for one card. This could take some study to do it right but there’s plenty of info out on how to do it well and grow your credit score. It’s as simple as waiting for credit card offers with big bonuses and then flying. To put it in perspective 40,000 – 60,000 miles is usually a round-trip to Europe.
2.Get bumped from your flight. Airlines purposely oversell flights counting on many business travelers backing out. But when everyone shows up, they need volunteers to take a later flight and in return they offer a voucher. The voucher is as good as cash toward that airline and you’d earn miles on the flight you book with the voucher. Bumps typically bring in $300-$400. You can actually predict which flights are over-sold and how to increase your odds. One tip is to tell them that you’re flexible (and if you have no checked bags, let them know because that makes it easier for them).
3. Look out for big hotel promotions. I mean real big! Club Carlson (Radisson) now has run many promotions giving away 50,000 points for one night! Seriously, I can’t believe more people don’t take that seriously. That’s at least 5 free nights at a category 1 hotel or a free night at one of the nicest Radisson Blu hotels in the world. Don’t be so frugal that you can’t find some cheap Club Carlson brand hotel and book a useless room. After all, when you go to New York you’re going to spend more for a crappy hotel somewhere an hour long train ride away from the sites you want to see. Might as well pay a little when the promo comes and use the points to stay at a nice hotel downtown or use it on many stays. The exact same concept applies to airline promotions, but takes a bit more research and investment.
4. If you have a rewards credit card that gives 5x for certain stores – like the Ink Bold (with Office Depot) or Freedom card (at CVS this quarter) – consider buying Visa gift cards while you can get 5x per dollar! For example if you buy two $500 gift cards from Office Depot and pay a $5 fee for each gift card, you’re getting 5,000 points for $10! If you did that 12 times, you’d at least have a round trip to Europe. The next trick is learning how to get your money off the card and back into your bank account.
5. Take advantage of stopovers (a stopover is a layover that lasts as long as you want)! Your miles get even better when you realize that you can book multiple destinations for the same price. I once took a flight from Guam and stopped in Singapore and Sydney on the way to The Cooke Islands (where we spent two weeks) and still had a stopover that allowed us to spend 2 weeks in New Zealand. The entire trip cost 40,000 United miles in business class! No more than if we had no stopovers and you could get 40,000 United miles simply for signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Another time I bought four tickets from New York to Santiago where we had stopovers in Lima and Easter Island where we spent 4 days and 2 weeks. No extra cost.