Miles & Points

Travel Hacking – What Is It?

I’ve now traveled to Hawaii seven times, flown across the country five times, gone to college football games in new cities, visited friends in other states, stayed in resorts that normally cost more than my weekly salary per night, flown first class, stayed in hotel suites, and relaxed in countless airport lounges where free drinks and food are always available. Whew, I’m out of breath… All of this and much more, I’ve done in just the past five years by travel hacking. Yes, FIVE YEARS! That’s it. No joke. I want you to count up your past vacations really quick in your head, and see if your travel amounts to this much over your lifetime. Does it? Hold on to that thought…

HOW MUCH DID THAT COST?

Looking at all the trips and vacations I’ve taken, you’d think that I must be wealthy and spent a huge amount of money on my travels. I mean, look at the price of an airline ticket. Currently, the average round trip U.S. flight is over $350! That’s crazy! Oh, and Hawaii flights… I don’t even want to look at those prices. Well, to tell you the truth, I didn’t pay very much at all to travel as much as I did. I’ve only paid a tiny fraction of the price anyone else would have paid. I’ve been able to do all that traveling using POINTS and MILES to cover the costs. You may think that you can only earn airline miles and hotel points by flying and staying a ton of nights at hotels, because that’s what you’ve heard. It’s NOT TRUE!!! I’ve earned almost all of mine, NOT by flying or by staying at hotels, but through TRAVEL HACKING.

 

Ok, now back to YOUR travel count… Was it less than mine over your whole life? Close? Either way, would you like your next five years to look like mine, or even better and more filled with travel and adventure? Would you like to start turning those travel dreams into reality? Hawaii, Thailand, Iceland, Europe, maybe Brazil… Do you have a bucket list that seems to be getting deeper and deeper with nothing being checked off? GOOD NEWS! You can become a travel hacker just as easily as I did. You too, can earn thousands upon thousands of miles and points to kickstart your life filled with travel.

OK, BUT HOW?

I’m sure you’re curious to learn how all this travel hacking business works, and you’re probably thinking “what’s the catch?”. I’ll tell you now, the one thing you’ll have to trade for this life full of travel, is a bit of time. Time up front to learn, and time to put your knowledge to work earning and spending your points and miles. Trust me though, it’s absolutely worth it. If I hadn’t learned how to travel hack, I probably wouldn’t have taken 90% of those vacations. Unfortunately, like most people, I would not have been able to afford it.

WHO IS TRAVEL HACKING FOR?

You’re in? Where do you sign up? Well, first things first… Travel hacking isn’t for everyone. There are a few key prerequisites that you’ll need before you can get started.

  1.  You will need to have a credit score in the range of 700 or greater. Scores go up to a maximum of 850, so this is a very good score. If you’re well below this level, you will first need to work to raise your score. If you don’t know what your score is, you can check for free at creditkarma.com or creditsesame.com. I’ve found that these sites will give you a pretty accurate estimation of your credit score.
  2. You must be someone who pays your credit cards and bills off FULLY and ON-TIME, every month. If you’re running a balance, there is no point in earning points and miles because the interest on credit cards far outweighs the value of points.
  3. You aren’t looking at taking out a major loan such as home mortgage in the next one to two years.

Do you fit the bill? Great! I want to share my knowledge of travel hacking with you, so that your life can be full of as much travel and adventure as mine is. For me, travel has improved my life greatly. So much, that I now can’t see my life without it. I hope travel can do the same for you now that you’re on your way to becoming an expert travel hacker.

HOW DOES TRAVEL HACKING WORK?

Now that you know you want to travel like I do, by using points and miles, and you’ve met the prerequisites mentioned above, let’s move on to how this travel hacking stuff works… The number one way to earn tons and tons of points and miles is through credit card signup bonuses. This is where that good credit score comes into play. Banks are willing to give you a tremendous amount of value to add you as a customer. This means that they will regularly give signup bonuses of 50,000 miles or more and occasionally even stretch those up to 100,000 miles. The best bonus I have earned to date, gave me enough miles to purchases five round trip flights to Hawaii using the method explained in my blog post “How I Fly Round Trip to Hawaii for $11”. I’ll say that again… FOUR ROUND TRIP FLIGHTS TO HAWAII. That’s pretty generous of the banks, I’d say! (Thanks Chase – wink).

MANY WAYS TO EARN POINTS

Although, credit card signup bonuses are the best and quickest way to earn points, they’re not the only way. Once you have a credit card that earns points, you can earn through spending. Many cards have category bonuses that earn extra points for certain purchases, so you can earn extra points on things you already buy every day. Some common bonuses are on things like gas, groceries, travel and dining. Another way to earn extra points is through online shopping portals that many airlines and credit cards have available. They will give you extra points to click through their links before purchasing products and services on popular online retailers. One more way to earn points is through promotions that the airlines and hotels have directly. Usually, they are for staying at a particular hotel chain so many stays within a period of time they will give you a bonus, or flying so many flights in a period of time they will also give you a bonus. These are just a few ways to earn enough points and miles to travel very well for the rest of your life.

 

IMPROVE YOUR LIFE THROUGH TRAVEL FREEDOM

I have travel freedom, and I would like to teach you how to have the same. I spent hundreds if not thousands of hours researching and reading to understand how travel hacking works. My goal is to take what I’ve learned and make it much simpler and quicker for you. To continue learning about travel hacking and how to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, follow along with Travel Freedom.

 

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How I Fly Round Trip to Hawaii for $11

How would you like to find a round trip flight to Hawaii for a measly $11?  I’ll show you how I do it.  

 

Want to travel to Hawaii, but think it’s expensive?  Do you have good credit?  Check.  Do you live on the west coast?  Check.  Excellent!  You are in perfect condition to have close to free flights to Hawaii as often as you’d like.  I’m sure you’re asking yourself how this could be true?  British Airways of course!  Wait, what?  How is British Airways going to get anyone from the mainland US to Hawaii when they don’t even fly that route?  The answer is in their partners.

Something most people don’t know is that almost all major airlines have partner airlines that you can book flights on, using frequent flyer miles.  We’re all in luck because British Airways has a partnership with Alaska Airlines.  This partnership happens to allow you to fly to Hawaii using very few miles.  The miles needed for British Airways partner flights are distance based, and Hawaii is conveniently located approximately 2,600 miles from any of the airports on the west coast.

 

 

According to British Airways’ miles award chart this distance is in their Zone 4.  A round trip flight to Hawaii costs 25,000 (12,500 each way) and approximately five dollars in taxes, fees and carrier charges total.  YES, you heard that right… TOTAL!  Compare that to other carriers’ award prices and it is a pretty sweet deal.  The next cheapest award flight to Hawaii is through American Airlines coming in at 35,000 miles round trip and that is only for their low season (Good luck finding a flight with award seats available).  Most of the airlines charge around 40,000 miles round trip.

 

 

List of the departing cities you can fly from, to each island in Hawaii for only 25,000 miles per round trip:

 

Anchorage, Alaska (Oahu, Maui, Big Island)

Bellingham, Washington (Oahu, Maui)

Seattle, Washington (Oahu, Maui, Kauai)

Portland, Oregon (Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai)

Oakland, California (Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai)

San Jose, California (Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai)

San Diego, California (Oahu, Maui, Kauai)

 

 

Bare with me, but for this deal you will have to put in a little effort.  I hope that’s OK…  You cannot currently book these Alaska Airlines flights on the British Airways website, but it’s honestly a pretty simple process.  As a bonus you’ll get to talk to someone with a cool British accent.  First, you can check the availability through American Airlines award booking.  Any date that shows up in the light green should be available to book through British Airways, but you will want to make sure that the flight you have selected is non-stop.  British Airways flights are per segment so to pay only 12,500 miles each way, the flights must be direct. In my experience, if you are just a little bit flexible, availability is great!

 

Calling British Airways

After you find your available dates, the last step of booking your flight is to call British Airways.  To call the USA office, the phone number is 1-800-247-9297, then press 1 when prompted, and 2 again  to book a flight. If you have the flight information you got from American Airlines, it makes the process very easy.  You will tell the phone rep where you want to fly and on which dates and they will book the trip.  There is an unlikely chance that they will try charging you for booking over the phone, but just make sure to ask them to waive this fee as your flight was not bookable online.  They will gladly waive the fee.

 

Now that you are all booked, any more contact about your tickets or flight will be with Alaska Airlines.  They will be able to look up your itinerary by Name.  You may want to call Alaska Airlines just to make sure everything is set up with them correctly and if the seats weren’t booked in seats next to each other you will want to request that they are.  On the day of your flight you will check in either at the Alaska Airlines counter or one of their automated machines.

 

Now that you know the process of using British Airways miles to book round trip flights from the west coast to Hawaii for only 25,000 miles, here are some different ways to accrue those miles.  If you already have them you’re set.  But if you don’t, there are many ways to get them.  Here is where having good credit comes into play.  If, and only if you have good credit you can sign up for certain credit cards which will give you large amounts of miles or other points as a signup bonus, which can be transferred to British Airways.  

 

List of points that can be transferred to British Airways and some credit cards that offer sign up bonuses:

 

British Airways Miles:

Chase British Airways Visa Signature

Typical Signup Bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $3000 in first 3 months.  Also 25,000 or 50,000 more miles after spending $10,000 or $20,000 within the first year.

 

American Express Membership Rewards:

Amex Business Gold Rewards

Typical Signup Bonus:  50,000 membership rewards after spending $5000 in first 3 months. Transfer ratio of 1:1 to BA miles.  There are often bonuses for transferring membership rewards to BA where you will receive a better ratio than 1:1 when transferring.   Note: This card requires you have a business (sole proprietorship works).

 

Chase Ultimate Rewards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Typical Signup Bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4000 in first 3 months.  Transfer ratio of 1:1 to BA miles.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG):

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest

Typical Signup Bonus: 30,000 SPG points after spending $5000 in first 6 months.

Transfer Ratio 20,000 to 25,000 BA miles.

These are just a few of the options of credit cards out there that you can sign up for to get British Airways miles and take your vacation to Hawaii.  Remember that the credit card sign up bonuses are always changing, so make sure to search online to ensure you find the best offer available.  Some good research tools are google, creditcards.com, and a blog I like to check Million Mile Secrets.  Now that you have points and know how to use them to travel to Hawaii for next to nothing, all that’s left to do is relax on the beach.

 

See you in Hawaii.  Aloha!

 

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