How to Start Travel Hacking (+ Fly for Free)

Travel hacking has become a popular way to “hack” the system and fly for free. 

What it means is that you collect points through different programs like airline miles, hotel rewards, and credit card points and then redeem them for free travel.

Below, we explain travel hacking. Plus, we teach you how to start travel hacking🛪.

What is travel hacking?🛧

Travel hacking means different things to different people. For some, it’s about collecting points and miles to get free travel. For others, it’s about finding the best deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars🚙.

And for some, it’s about using travel hacking techniques to upgrade their travel experiences – whether that means getting a better seat on a plane, scoring a free hotel room upgrade, or anything in between.💯💯

No matter what your definition of travel hacking is, the goal is always the same: to save money and/or time while planning and taking trips🏩. 

There are a few different ways to approach travel hacking, but the most common is to use credit card points and miles to get free (or nearly free) travel. The approach is often called “point hacking” or “mileage running.”

Other approaches to travel hacking include🏨🛧:

  • Finding the Best Deals: Websites like Skyscanner and Kayak can help you find the best deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars🚙🛬🏩.
  • Using Rewards Programs: Many companies offer rewards programs that can be used to get discounts on travel. For example, some airlines offer “buddy passes” to employees that can be used to get discounted (or even free) flights🛪🛪.
  • Using Loyalty Programs: Hotel loyalty programs can often be used to get free hotel rooms or upgrades. For example, Marriott’s “Gold Elite” status can be used to get free room upgrades and breakfast at Marriott hotels.🏨🏨

The whole idea behind travel hacking is to be creative and think outside the box to find ways to save money on travel. There are endless possibilities💯💯.

Benefits of travel hacking

Travel hacking has plenty of benefits. Here are some of them.

1. Earning free flights and hotels

Whether you want to take your family to Disneyland or go on a honeymoon to Bora Bora, travel hacking can help you get there for cheaper than you ever thought possible💸💸.

With the right strategy, you can earn free flights and hotel stays just by using your credit card.

2. More flexible travel plans 

With travel hacking, you can be more flexible with your travel plans💢💟. If you have the flexibility to take advantage of last-minute deals, you can save a ton of money.

3. Improved credit score🏦💳

One of the side benefits of travel hacking is that it can help improve your credit score. By using credit cards responsibly and paying off your balance in full every month, you can improve your credit score over time.

Plus, there are plenty of other benefits, like earning rewards points that can be used for cash back or gift cards, getting free checked bags, and more.

How to start travel hacking🤑🛪

Travel hacking may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple. All you need to do is follow these easy steps:

1. Decide your goal

First, you need to determine what you want to accomplish with travel hacking. For example, do you want to earn free flights?🛪🛪

Or do you want to rack points so you can stay in luxury hotels for free?🏦 Once you know your goal, you can start planning your strategy.🤑

2. Get a credit card

The next step is getting a credit card to help you achieve your travel hacking goal. If you want to earn free flights, look for a card that offers points or miles for every dollar you spend💳💳.

You can also get credit cards that let you transfer rewards. The major benefit of this type of card is that you can transfer your points to different airline programs.

Some cards that allow this include💳💳:

  • Amex Membership Rewards
  • Capital One miles
  • Citi ThankYou points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards

Some banks also have their own programs that you can use to book travel. These include:

  • Bank of America Travel Rewards
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Royal Bank of Canada Avion

3. Use your card💳💳

Now that you have your card, it’s time to start using it! Use your card for all of your regular purchases, and make sure you pay off your balance in full every month.

If you want to earn points faster, look for bonus categories. For example, some cards offer bonus points for travel or dining purchases🍲🥫🛒🛍.

Make sure you also take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Many cards offer big bonuses, like 50,000 points, when you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months🛒🛒.

4. Get dining rewards🧉🍹

Dining rewards are a great way to earn points or miles without spending a lot of extra money.

There are two main programs🥘🍲:

With these programs, you can earn points or miles at participating restaurants. Then, all you need to do is link your credit card to the program and start dining.

5. Use technology💻📱

One of the best ways to travel hack is to use technology to your advantage. There are a few different ways you can do this:

  • Rewards Tracking App: Use rewards tracking apps, like AwardWallet or, to keep track of your points and miles. It will help you make sure you never miss the point and help you plan your next trip🛪🛪.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal: The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is a great way to book travel. You can book flights, hotels, and more with your points🤑💟.
  • Amex Offers: Amex Offers is a program that lets you earn points or cash back at participating businesses. All you need to do is add the offer to your card and use your card when you shop🛒.
  • Kayak: Kayak is a great way to search for flights. You can use the site to find the best deals and book your flights🛫🛪.
  • Google Flights: Google Flights is another great option for booking flights. You can use the site to find the best prices and deals🛬.

6. Look for mistake fares👀

Airlines often make mistakes when they price their flights. When this happens, you can get some great deals on flights.

To find mistake fares, you can search sites like:

Once you find a mistake fare, you need to book it quickly. Airlines often correct the prices within a few hours.

However, if you’ve already booked your flight, the airline is required to honor the price.

7. Double and triple dip🤑🤑

It simply means stacking or combining multiple programs to earn more rewards.

You can do this by using a rewards credit card that also has a dining program. For example, if you use the Amex Gold card, you can earn 4 points per dollar at restaurants🍹🧉🥘🥘.

You can also stack programs to get more points when you book travel. For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can get 3 points per dollar on travel purchases🛒.

8. Know the terms and conditions📄📃

A common mistake people make with travel hacking is not reading the terms and conditions of their credit card. It’s important to know the rules of your card so you can avoid any penalties💥.

For example, some cards have limits on the number of points you can earn per year. Others have blackout dates for redeeming points.📄

It’s also important to know the rules for redeeming points. Some cards have restrictions on how you can use your points.

Finally, make sure you know the rules for transferring points. Some cards charge a fee for transferring points, and some have limits on how many points you can transfer.

Travel hacking: mistakes to avoid 👎👎

Since travel hacking can be a bit complicated, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are a few mistakes to avoid:

1. Not paying off your balance👎👎💳

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not paying off your balance in full every month. It will result in interest charges, which can negate the benefits of travel hacking.

2. Not reading the terms and conditions👀📄

Another mistake is not reading the terms and conditions of your credit card. There’s no way you can fully benefit from your card if you don’t know the rules.📃📃

Make sure you understand the rules for earning and redeeming points and any restrictions on using your points. If you have any questions, contact customer service💁.

3. Not tracking your points📱💳

If you’re not tracking your points, it’s easy to miss out on rewards. There are a few different ways to track your points. You can use a rewards tracking app📱.

You can also use a spreadsheet to track your points. It can be a bit more work, but it’s a great way to keep track of your progress.💻💻

Summary 💪

Travel hacking has become the need of today’s travelers, considering the rising costs of airfare and hotels. It’s a great way to save money on travel and get more value for your points🛧💟.

However, it’s important to avoid making mistakes. Be sure to pay off your balance in full every month, read the terms and conditions of your credit card, and track your points📱💻💸.

Following these tips, you can make the most of your travel hacking efforts and save money on your next trip💸🤑🛬.

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