How to Travel for FREE

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If you want to learn how to travel for free, then stick around! Below are my BEST simple tips a year into “travel hacking” which is what the experts call it. This process involves opening a new credit card, and earning points at a rapid rate to travel with. Some people get nervous about that (I was at first!) but I promise, once you figure out the system, you’ll wish you’d done this YEARS ago (I wish I did!) Please message me with ANY questions, I’m happy to help!

How to Travel for Free

How to get credit card points to travel for free

Here’s how the free travel hacking works (in a nutshell):

  1. Apply for and Open a new (specific) card
  2. Spend a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time (usually 3 months)
  3. Earn free travel points (for flights, hotel, car rental, etc.)

Let’s break it down.

How to apply for and open a new card:

There are a variety of cards you can open, with a variety of perks. Just start ONE at a time. I started with THIS BLUE CARD a year ago. I just clicked on the link (when you click on my link right there, we BOTH get points, so I’d love if you do use my link!) and filled out an online application to apply for the card, and was approved in minutes! (Decent credit score helps). You then wait the 10 days for it to arrive in the mail, but I needed mine sooner (was about to drop some cash on a home project), so I called them, and they overnighted it to me and I had it within 2 days!

How do I earn points spending money?

Depending on which card you open, they have different “minimum spends” at different times of the year (think: sales at various times). The first card I got said that if I spend a minimum of $4000 (on literally ANYTHING) in 3 months, I’d earn the reward points, which is now 60,000 points (more on using points in the next section).

Now I don’t know about you, but spending $4000 in 3 months is not hard. I normally spend about $1500 a month on groceries and Amazon. Plus, I got the card in September, because I KNEW I’d be spending more with holiday shopping. Besides grocery bills, I wanted to make sure I was safe, so I did painstakingly go into our auto pay bills (netflix, hulu, internet, phone bill) and change to this card, but if I had just done my groceries (Walmart) and Amazon, I would have been golden to spend $4000 in 3 months. Once I spent the minimum, and paid it off, I saw those reward points show up in my online portal.

How do I use travel points to travel?

In the past year, I have opened a few cards, and have points sitting and waiting for me to use. I’m saving them up for a big family trip next summer, and I wanted to have options and flexibility. So I haven’t actually used them yet (when I do, I will update this section, reserving travel SOON). You have to plan ahead a bit, because you have to know that once you open a card, you can’t use the points for travel for a few months (right now, planning for summer travel is ideal). But the points translate into airlines, hotels, car rentals, even resorts! Sometimes the points transfer 1 to 1 (1 point per $1 dollar it is “worth”) and other times, points are worth 2 to 1, where it actually has a double/higher value than the dollar. So it’s to your benefit to use points no matter what, you definitely are not LOSING money!  This process has felt a bit confusing to me, and I’m still figuring it out, but I didn’t want to wait to earn points til I had it figured out on the end, you know? There are quite a few resources of helpful accounts that have helped me and answered my questions, and I’m here to help YOU!!!

BONUS!!!!

When I signed up for my card a year ago, the bonus was actually the highest I’ve seen it (they change the sign on bonus all the time, I haven’t seen it that high since). I knew I could reach the $4k goal with our family spending, easy. My husband rarely buys groceries (or anything) but we had a big home project (exterior home painting) which was $4000, so guess what we did?? I got the card in my name for our family spending, then I referred him to the blue card with my link (just as I did right there for you) and he signed up, and got a new blue card in his name NOT TIED TO MY CARD and BAM! We earned another DOUBLE points, plus a referral bonus!!! Right now, that would be 140,000 travel points for spending money we were already planning to spend (groceries and home project). (About $1500-2000 equivalent)

After he earned his points, we called and had them transfer his points to me to keep our points tidy all in one place.

So if you have any big home projects, it’s a NO BRAINER!!!! You can use it, pay it off, and let it sit til you are ready to travel.

The Fine Print on travel hacking + TIPS:
  • Most of these cards have an annual fee of $95-100. If you’re like us, you’ve always shied away from annual fees. It’s annoying, but STILL WORTH!! Roughly, 60,000 points is equivalent to $600-$1000 in travel, either through flights or hotel, so you are still winning in the end. Also, there are often other perks with sign-on bonuses like hotel credits, airport lounge access, and when I got my first, it had a year free Door Dash service! Those perks are ever changing.
  • You HAVE to be in a habit of paying off your credit card monthly. This hacking is not FREE when you aren’t paying off your bills each month and getting slapped with. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE CASH IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT TO PAY IT OFF OR YOU DON’T EARN POINTS BY JUST PAYING OFF PART OF IT!!!
  • If you find you are almost to the end of the time period and haven’t spend enough, go to an office supply store (Staples) and buy Visa gift cards. You earn 5x point credits there, so spending $1000 on a visa gift card is often worth 5000 points!
  • Travel is free, but often taxes are required to pay (just like the Price is Right!) So on a free $200 flight, you may pay $5-10 in taxes).

I’m going to work on another blog post specific to Southwest Airlines travel hacking and the companion pass, but the points aren’t worth it right now, so I’d start with THIS BLUE CARD first, and please reach out to ask question (IG or kristenduke @ gmail.com), I’ll help you along the way!

 

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