I have so many friends that pay full price for their flights. Every time they tell me they can’t take a trip because of the cost, I tell them that there are tons of ways to use miles and points to travel cheap. Here are some of the reasons they give me for thinking they can’t travel cheap, but are not really true.
I Can’t Book Reward Trips Because of Blackout Dates
It is true, some airlines make booking trips harder than others. However, there are lots of airlines and 365 days of the year you can travel.
I have looked at using airline specific miles on holidays and couldn’t find any good deals, but when I expanded my search to other airlines or more dates, I was able to find something that worked.
If you plan far enough in the future and have more flexible dates, you can always find good options for your travel using miles.
The Fees Make Miles Bookings Expensive
While some airlines do have big fees, you shouldn’t have to pay much to book a trip, and if you plan right you can still save thousands of dollars if you plan correctly.
British Airways is notorious for their fuel surcharge, and if you have to make changes to your trip you’ll pay big, but in general fees shouldn’t be a big deterrent for travel.
I recently booked multiple trips on Southwest with only $5 fees round trip. I also booked a two round trip flights from Denver to Tel Aviv for about $140 each. Even though I had to pay $280 out of pocket, I was able to save thousands of dollars on our trip.
The Only Way to Earn Miles is Flying
Almost all of the miles I used for my recent trips came from travel credit cards. In one day earlier this year, I earned 160,000 miles from credit card bonus offers with a credit card churn.
It took some work to plan out the best credit cards to get and how to reach the minimum spend for the bonus miles. However, the time spent was well worth it for the great travel rewards I got in return.
Using my Chase Ink card, I get 5 points per dollar spent on my phone and internet bills and gas. With my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I get two points per dollar spent at restaurants and bars. I never spend a dollar that doesn’t give me some type of travel reward.
You Can Only Use Miles Where You Earn Them
Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express rewards points are easy to transfer to airlines and hotels, as are Starwood points. But there are lots of ways to book with partners other than transferring them.
If you plan your miles earnings to one airline on each of the major alliances, notably OneWorld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance, you can book flights to virtually any destination in the world through almost any airline.
Cash Back is Worth More Than Miles and Points
I know cash back cards can be tempting, but they are not the best deal if you like to travel. The points and miles you earn may be worth more than the cash in your bank account if you were going to travel anyway.
Most cash back cards give 1% back on all spending. Miles and points can be valued at 1.5¢ or more. Even if you only earn 1 point per dollar, you may still be earning more than you would have with the cash back 1% reward.
I Don’t Spend Enough to Make Money with Credit Card Rewards
I recently booked rewards flights on Southwest for less than 15,000 miles round trip. With signup bonuses, you really don’t have to spend much to get an account full of opportunities to jet around the world.
Additionally, there are great ways to use gift cards and target categories to beef up your earnings quickly. You will be on your way to your dream destination before you know it!
Questions About Miles?
What has been holding you back from travel hacking and getting free flights? What questions do you have? Please let me know in the comments.