Over the course of a year, I visit dozens of countries around the world without ever breaking the bank. How do I do it? It’s easy – my secret lies in maximizing the value of airline frequent flyer miles and credit card points.
Now that you’ve gotten started, here are some tips to help you keep working towards your first free trip!
Do Your Homework and Know Your Programs. For those who are new to the points and miles game, I’ll agree that diving right in and getting to know all of the program rules can be intimating at first, but if you can get familiar with your programs, then you’ll have a better sense of which miles and points to use to get the “most bang for your buck”. As an example, you can get to Miami via American Airlines for just $5 round trip using 15,000 British Airways Avios. That same trip prices out as 25K American Airlines AAdvantage miles if booked directly from your American Airlines account. Do your research and you can stretch your points and miles to their limits.
Earn Miles While Dining Out. Another quick and easy way to earn some extra miles and points is by signing up for your preferred airline’s dining program. Once you sign up, you simply sync your credit card to your profile. Every time you dine at a participating restaurant, you’ll earn extra points in addition to the points you earn normally on your credit card by submitting a short survey about your dining experience (which usually takes less than a minute).
Stay Current. This one’s a no-brainer. By staying current, I mean keeping up with the top travel blogs, forums, and social media. To be honest, 90% of my yearly travel is inspired by some type of “deal”. I generally have a sense of where I want to go in the world, but if I see an awesome flight deal posted on one of the popular points and miles forums (I like MilePoint and FlyerTalk), I jump on it and make a vacation out of it. It’s also not a bad idea to follow your favorite airlines and travel personalities on Twitter and Facebook; they’re usually the primary source of the latest deals, promotions, free points, strategies, and ideas for how to redeem your points and miles.
Be Realistic. Just because you have a stash of credit card points and airline miles does not mean you get to wake up and hop on your own personal private jet (wouldn’t that be nice though?) It’s also important to periodically re-evaluate how you’re earning points and what points are important to you. So many people come to me and say, “I have this great credit card that gets me so many points” and I nearly cringe when I hear that it’s a co-branded Costco card. If you’re serious about learning how to fly for free, do your homework beforehand and set realistic goals; it’ll pay off!
Be Inspired and Have Fun. It’s a lot to take in, but diving into the world of points travel is well worth it. I’ll leave you with just few words: have fun and enjoy the ride!
Hi! I’m Angelina, and I’m an avid traveler and bargainista. Combine the two and you get a points and miles fanatic who takes way too many vacations. I’m so addicted to traveling on pennies and dimes that I started writing about my stories and strategies over at my blog, JustAnotherPointsTraveler.com. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.