Top 10 Things To Know About Travel Hacking Before You Start
Have you ever said to yourself, “Gee, I wish I could travel more, but it’s so expensive!” or “I wonder what it’s like to fly in First Class”?
So did I before I started Travel Hacking. But now that I know how to play the game, travel has never been more affordable or easier, meaning that it can be a lot more frequent now!
Here are the Top 10 Things To Know About Travel Hacking Before Starting:
1) What Is Travel Hacking?
While this should be an in-depth topic all on its own, in its simplest form, Travel Hacking is collecting points and miles to the extreme that you then use to redeem for free flights and free hotel nights.
2) How Do You Travel Hack
The most common way to travel hack today is by applying for credit cards that have high sign up bonuses with points and miles. One credit card could potentially get you 1-2 free international flights alone or several free hotel nights stays!
(Note: While there are a few credit cards in various countries, this is really done the most in the US and a US mailing address is required to truly Travel Hack to the level of the experts)
3) Isn’t It Stupid To Open Up Credit Cards
Not if you know what you are doing. You are not just going to apply for credit cards willy nilly! There IS a strategy to the game and you need to know and understand it well before starting. However, I can attest that with over 35 credit cards to my name, my credit score has never been better (as in, over 830, thank you very much!)
4) You Typically Need To Meet A “Minimum Spend Requirement”
This sounds scary, but in order to actually receive the credit card sign up, there is usually a minimum spend requirement that needs to be met and is often within the first 3 months of getting the card. But the good news is that it is WAY easier than what most people think. You should NEVER spend more money than you normally do or don’t have. Therefore, you are only spending money that you typically would and yet are getting free travel out of it!!!
5) It’s Free To Join Airline and Hotel Loyalty Programs
It doesn’t cost anything to open up reward loyalty programs. Some do expire after a period of time of non-usage, so it’s helpful to keep track of what programs you are using and have points with, but you might as well take advantage of the points and miles when you can!
6) Airline Alliances Can Help Get You Further
Most people think that if they’ve earned a certain type of points, for example, United, then you MUST fly with United. Wrong. Most airlines are within Alliances of multiple other airlines that allow you to use your points on more airlines, opening up more availability and routing options for you!
7) The Perks Are AMAZING
Many credit cards come with additional perks. One of my all-time favorites is the Lounge Access in many airports that allows you to gain entrance to some pretty fancy and high end lounges! You can get free food, free drinks (often alcoholic), free wifi and a much more comfortable place to sit than out in the waiting areas!! Other awesome perks are things like free Global Entry, free travel insurance and more.
8) Is it all REALLY free?
Ok, so by now, you are thinking, “What’s the catch!?” or “Is anything actually REALLY free?” And the answer is that no, you aren’t going to be flying international for absolutely NOTHING.
However, the taxes and fees that you pay are SO minimal in comparison to the cost of a flight that it is crazy NOT to travel hack! For less money than a dinner and a movie, you can fly across the world!
9) Some Cards Have Annual Fees
The only other costs you might encounter are occasional cards that have annual fees. There are two good things about this though. One is that it is really easy to avoid these cards because there are SO many other cards with fantastic sign up bonuses that don’t have annual fees (or are waived in the first year). The other is that most people don’t get these cards until they are much more advanced and understand the travel hacking system in more depth, making them not seem so scary. The great news is that typically when there is an annual fee, the cost of all the perks associated with the card can often pay for itself, depending on what type of travel you do.
10) You’ll Start Traveling Like You’ve Never Traveled Before
Not only do points and miles make it SO affordable and easy to travel (meaning you’ll be booking way more travel now!) but it also has a certain amount of luxury to it that is just an added bonus. Many people who travel hack start flying in business and first class (I mean, why not when you’ve got THAT many points!?). It’s also possible to stay in some of the most luxurious and expensive hotels because you have free nights and so many points that make it totally feasible!
Travel Hacking may not be for everybody, but I’d argue that it’s for a lot more people than who actually take advantage of it. Nobody should just dive right into travel hacking though and it does take a bit of research, knowledge and practice to REALLY gain the system. However, once you do, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t start travel hacking earlier!
About LeAnna Brown:
LeAnna Brown and her husband are expert travel hackers, having earned over 3 million points and miles together. Using travel hacking, they have flown and stayed all over the world for just pennies and points! LeAnna has blogged about Travel Hacking at EconomicalExcursionists.com but now is settling down in her home state of Nebraska, where she inspires fellow Cornhuskers to explore their own backyards at https://www.WellTraveledNebraskan.com and shows that travel is easy, inspirational and all around us!
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