So this is why I made the site: to show people that they can indeed afford to travel!
Unfortunately, if you’re looking to go abroad the airfare isn’t cheap. Despite the industry’s shift to more fuel-efficient planes, shorter flight times, budget airline competition, and charging fees for all kinds of things, the standard ticket price is usually the first barrier of your dream trip. I’ve got a potential fix for you and it’s not snake oil or a 15 minute sales pitch video that only ends in asking you to subscribe to some “male-cow poop” scheme. This is how I’ve done it and how thousands of others have achieved significantly lower travel prices: we’ve entered “the game”. That is: the game of points and miles.
First off, I’m certainly not going to claim to be expert just yet. However, I’d like to share what’s worked for me and exactly how I’ve landed trips in the past — For example, round trip airfare to Japan for just $67 dollars. It’s not as hard as you’d think. The airlines have created a system that both is competitive between carriers and also can work out for the consumer if you pull the right strings. The catch: it takes time and effort. In fact, there are lots of people who full-on devote themselves to the game and they’re so incredible at it that they travel full-time! What a life! But most of us have jobs and other passions that keep us on the ground most of the time and we don’t feel like changing our lives drastically. Also, because these gals and guys are at this game full-time, they can afford to splurge miles on business class and first class award redemption. Although this is not out of anyone’s realm it take a lot of time and credit cards that the average person isn’t interested in taking on. Most of us just want to travel more often or even simply just SOMEDAY. That’s what I want to focus on.
So how do people do it? As a consumer, there is no such thing as a free ticket (unless you enter a contest, which — why the hell not). But — BUT if you buy your next trip with miles, you will often pay only some taxes and fees, sometimes it can even be “free”. You’ll score the trip that you’ve been meaning to take forever. But how do you start? First you join airline and hotel rewards programs that fit your travel needs — then the rest is up to you.
Here’s a few things you can do to earn miles quickly. You’ll need to do at least a few of them —
Join an airline loyalty program and fly. Of course you’re going to get miles in a sort of rewards program that airlines use to try to keep you as a returning customer. Just make sure that every time you fly you’re earning towards the programs you’re a part of. Sometimes airlines even offer mile bonuses for flying certain routes.
Sign-up for credit cards with bonuses (usually some kind of minimum spending is required and we’ll get to that) This is probably the most rewarding and quickest method of points and miles earning although it’s also the one you have to pay the most attention to as I don’t encourage signing up for credit cards just to churn. You’ll have to weigh your options and figure out what you want to apply the points to in the long run. Don;t just sign up for credit cards blindly!
Spend money on credit cards with mile/points earning. Given some of the new cards out there, this is possibly the second best way to earn for your next trip. Most travel cards offer varying rates and bonus categories for things that you buy in your everyday life. Airline cards usually offer a points/mile earn bonus on airfare on their own site, but other cards offer spending on Groceries, or Dining. That’s where you can find your own personal sweet spot, and earn thousands of points/miles a month just buying things you would anyway.
Use online shopping portals for your various mileage accounts. There can be incredible earning deals on things that you might want to buy anyways. For me — I’m a huge fan of the clothing company Patagonia. High quality clothes, that given, are a little pricey. I’m able to buy my Patagonia jackets, ect through various shopping portal vendors and earn a ridiculous amount of points in the process. Time to buy a new computer? The Apple Store and Windows Store both often have deals through shopping portals that can double or tipple your miles earned. By checking shopping portals for things you were already planning on buying you can fill your accounts quickly!
Special offers and surveys also offer great value if you have spare time. E-Miles is one of my favorites as you can fill our surveys for mile redemption. I usually check the site daily and fill out a few if I have the time. It’s not the quickest way to earn miles, but we’re talking about saving money here. Special offers are also great in the fact that they offer miles for little effort on your part. For example, At the time of writing, Virgin America has had some great deals where you can enroll in e-mails for Virgin Sport and Virgin Hotels and get 1,000 miles (500 each). Not too bad for just a few minutes of time. I highly suggest signing up for all kinds of airline and hotel programs for updates on what’s available.
Explore other options as they surely exist. Things come and go and they certainly can put you over the top when it comes your miles balance. Fidelity has deals where if you invest you can earn huge mileage bonuses with American, United, and Delta. You can get bonuses when you install satellite TV. Hell, you could even be a good person and donate to charity to earn miles. Win, win.
My plan is to post on various mileage program and points tricks as I find them. I want to help everyone get out a bit more! However, I’ll warn you this — once you’re in the game you’re going to get hooked. Furthermore, all of your friends will start asking you how you’re going on all of these trips while they are sitting around listening to Nickleback (don’t be Nicklebackfan2007). You might even end up starting your own blog just because it’s healthier to write this stuff down rather than keep all of you crazy mile/points obsessions locked in you head. Whatever you do, just be sure to go outside. Hop on a plane and go somewhere fantastic. You’re going to love “the game”.