Travel Hacking Strategy for Cheap Travel | Introduction to Travel Hacking | Points & Miles Strategy Part I

Hundreds of readers and many of my closest friends often ask me – “how are you able to travel so well… and so frequently? Doesn’t it cost a ton of money? How do you find the time?”

The short of it is, I leverage a concept known within the blogosphere as Travel Hacking. It’s not as sinister as it sounds, and it’s certainly something that isn’t available exclusively to anyone. You too can begin to live the life of traveling you’ve always wanted – as long as you learn how to employ a variety of efficient travel strategies responsibly. I’ll teach you.

Don’t let the word ‘responsible’ scare you away, trust me, it’s good to be responsible and it’s gotten me to where I am today. But with great power comes great responsibility… more on that later.

This article is the first in a 4 part series geared towards teaching my fellow travel enthusiasts how to travel on the cheap, without sacrificing the quality of your itinerary. In fact, you’re more likely to have a much more luxurious trip if you employ the methods you learn in this series.

Cheap Travel | How to Travel For Free | Free Flights Guide | Introduction to Travel Hacking

Image by Beringer Vineyards featuring Murad Osmann & Nataly Osmann.

So What Really Is Travel Hacking?

It all starts with loyalty programs.

Let’s start with defining what your typical loyalty program is:

A loyalty program is, in short, a rewards program – offered to both potential customers or existing customers of any company that’s looking to retain your – you guessed it – loyalty.

These companies offer customers incentives to stay with them. These incentives can come in the form of discounts, free “swag,” services, or virtual currency that can only be used with the company that offers it. While there are thousands of programs in existence today, ranging from retail to cuisine, we’ll be focusing on the ones that pertain to travel.

Commonly known as Frequent Flyer programs, air travel rewards programs have been around for well over 3 decades. While airlines have been incentivizing their customers to continue flying with them for years; hotels, travel insurance and car companies have all opted to get in on the action. But what’s in it for them?

Enter the travel credit card.

Airlines and hotels sell hundreds of millions of miles to banking institutions at certain valuations every year. They do this knowing that the majority of miles sold to the banks will never be claimed. The banks then take these miles and offer them to potential customers through their co-branded credit cards.

These credit cards more often that not come with tens of thousands of points that are attainable simply by signing up and hitting a minimum spending threshold.

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards | Travel Hacking Tips for Beginners | Introduction to Travel HackingThe Power of the Signup Bonus

These signup bonuses – with one credit card alone – can very often earn an individual free or near free round trip flights or hotel stays. Taking into account that one individual in good credit standing can apply for more than one travel rewards card, these signup bonuses add up quickly. Compounded with this, your significant other and children can also apply. The end result? A crap ton of rewards.

This is where the concept of responsibility comes in. Earning points and miles with credit cards can earn you, your family and even your friends hundreds of thousands of miles. Redeemable for numerous flights, hotel stays and car rentals. However, the most lucrative travel rewards credit cards require that the consumer or business professional maintain excellent credit standing. In addition to maintaining a great credit rating, you need to manage your finances appropriately,. Don’t over-extend your ability to apply for credit cards.

We’ll dedicate an entire part of this series on how to responsibly manage your travel and credit card situation. This way, both your credit rating and standing with travel rewards programs remain in good condition.

Note that in addition to signup bonuses, the right travel credit card can provide numerous other benefits. These can include primary car rental insurance, trip cancellation coverage, ongoing mileage earning potential for spending in certain categories, free baggage check, no foreign transaction fees and a whole lot more.

Travel Hacking | Travel Rewards Starwood Preferred Guest Program

Starwood Preferred Guest, recently acquired by Marriott Rewards, has offered one of the most lucrative airline & hotel loyalty programs to consumers and small business owners. The two programs will ultimately combine, though we’re still waiting to hear the details on exactly how.

Choosing the Right Travel Hacking Strategy

Keep in mind that the RIGHT travel hacking strategy completely depends on you. Everyone has different spending habits and travel dreams that are important to them. That being said, it’s important you select the right programs, products and overall strategy that fits your lifestyle. We’ll help you figure that out as this series continues.

What the rest of this series will cover:

  • Which rewards programs to apply for
  • Which credit cards to apply for
  • How to utilize your signup bonuses
  • How to manage your rewards programs, points and miles
  • Categorical spending and accruing miles
  • Maximizing your daily spend to earn points
  • Doubling down on earning points and miles
  • Which programs will take you the furthest
  • Managing your credit responsibly
  • Buying, trading and spending rewards
  • How to spend your earned miles
  • Finding the time to travel often
  • Earning miles by flying
  • The hidden benefits of the using the right credit cards
  • Tying it all together
  • …and so much more.

How To Travel Hack | An Introduction | Beginners Guide to Travel Hacking

Stay with us for the next month as we release each part of our 4 part series in weekly increments. At the conclusion of this series, it will be available for download as a free eBook for your convenience. You’ll learn to travel as much, or as little as you want – just know that you have the flexibility to pick up and do so when it’s convenient for you! Subscribe below to our free eNewsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

Quick Links:

Continue on to Part II – Joining the Best Travel Rewards Programs

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2 Comments

  • Hi Greig,

    Need to get more up to snuff in this area. I’m hacking like a mad man in other areas – rent-free house sits, flying and eating without breaking the bank, etc, etc – but diving into rewards programs to get points is my next hacking frontier. If I’ve flown some 90 times gotta get on the ball LOL 😉

    Ryan

    • Hey Ryan,
      As long as you’re hacking somewhere, the practice at its most basic level comes down to commitment. Travel hacking is something that can be honed in time, but is however always evolving depending on current credit card offers, promotions and valuations within the airline and hotel loyalty programs themselves. It’s an exciting time for great and discounted travel as airlines and hotels are literally hurling out 10s of thousands of miles. I’ll be releasing the next few parts to this series in the coming weeks.

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