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3 Steps Towards Traveling for Free...

Want to use miles to fly First Class around the world? Yes, it can be done! Sure, it sounds like one of those ‘too good to be true’ things, but it really works. We at Frequent Miler have been traveling in First Class for free (less taxes and fees) for years using the tricks explained in this blog. The catch (and yes, there’s always a catch) is that it takes knowledge and organization to pull it off. That’s where this blog can help!

Ironically, traveling is not the best way to earn miles & points (but it doesn’t hurt!). Credit card signup bonuses are the biggest and best opportunity for earning free points and miles. For many, it’s easy to earn hundreds of thousands of points each year through signup bonuses! Here’s how:

1. Sign Up for the Best Offers

Credit card issuers want your business and they’re willing to pay you for it in the form of huge credit card signup bonuses.

As you’ll see on our best credit card offers page, there are dozens of great bonuses out there. A common practice is to regularly sign up for new cards, primarily for the signup bonuses. And, couples can double points earnings by each signing up for the same cards.

There are so many great credit card offers available that it can be tough to know which are best for you.  One solution is to check out Greg’s Top Picks where I list my favorite card offers along with info about who I think would benefit from the card.  

A year after signing up for a card, consider avoiding the annual fee by downgrading to a no-fee card, or by cancelling altogether.

TIP: If you’re new to this, consider using Travel Freely to guide you through the process step by step.  The Travel Freely service is absolutely free.

2. Meet Spend Requirements

Most credit card signup bonuses have minimum spend requirements. For example, a 50,000 mile signup bonus will typically require $3,000 in spend within 3 months of signing up.

Techniques for meeting spend requirements include using the new credit card for all purchases; using the credit card to pay monthly bills wherever credit cards are accepted; using the credit card to pay your rent, mortgage or other loans (often for a fee). Our daily blog posts can help you learn those basics as well as additional ways to increase credit card spend without going broke.

See more here: Increase credit card spend (and get most of it back). What still works?

3. Travel for Free!

Once you’ve earned points and miles, you’ll want to use them for free travel. With some loyalty programs, that’s easy. With hotels for example, it’s usually the case that any time there’s a standard room available for sale it’s also available to book with points, or with a free night certificate. Airline miles are both more complicated and potentially more rewarding. Many airlines drastically limit availability of their cheapest ‘saver’ awards. If you want to plan the ultimate international getaway and you haven’t yet learned the ins and outs of booking award flights, consider using an award search tool or an award booking service. You’ll have to pay for these services, but in many cases it can be well worth the price..

Caution!

There’s a reason that credit card companies are willing to give away points & miles. They make a lot of money from interest and fees. Interest and fee payments can quickly wipe out the benefits gained from signup bonuses. The only way to come out ahead is to pay your credit card bills in full, every month. If you can’t do that, then I highly recommend against signing up for new credit cards.

More Points and Miles

Signing up for new credit cards isn’t the only way to earn points & miles without flying. A few options include:

  • Maximizing credit card category bonuses: Many credit cards offer extra points for certain categories of purchases (e.g. restaurants, travel, groceries, etc.). It is often possible to shift spend towards those categories in order to earn far more points than you would otherwise.
  • Online shopping via portals: Online portals offer extra rewards for shopping that you would have done anyway.
  • Marketing promotions: Businesses often offer free bonus points or miles in order to attract your business. Occasionally these offers are incredibly lucrative!

There are many other ways to earn points and miles without flying. Please see this post: Top things to do for MORE miles.

Getting Started

  1. Sign up for Travel Freely (it’s free!) to keep track of your credit cards and to walk you through the process.
  2. Sign up for Award Wallet (it’s free!) to keep track of your points & miles balances.
  3. Find the best credit card offers on our Best Credit Card Offers page or go with Greg’s favorites in our Greg’s Top Picks page. If you get an offer in the mail, though, compare it to our Best Offers page. Sometimes targeted offers are better than anything else publicly available.
  4. Read more:
    1. The games we play (a big picture overview of the points & miles ‘game’)
    2. The tools we use (a list of useful tools for earning and using points & miles)
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Jim F.

Good evening, Greg/Nick!

Some ideas for valuable posts given the announcement of AA’s “Loyalty Points” scheme:
1. Can you confirm an example (a formula would be even better!) for how to calculate Loyalty Points for partner flights starting 1/1/22? I’ve seen 2 differing suggestions in BoardingArea posts and, knowing the detailed analysis you do, I think BoardingArea readers would appreciate a definitive answer to this question.
2. Will there be any impact on earning/burning 500-mile upgrade certificates in AA wallets come 3/1/22?

Cavedweller

Love the Huge CAUTION Sign !!!! Could be a rough span with interest rates going UP !!!!

Al K

The Frequent Miler himself at a grocery store in Ann Arbor. White car vs. red. 🙂

Eric Larson

I made a SW Airlines purchase on June 11th with my SW Performance Business card during their one day 50x promotion. When I received my statement I realized the purchase posted on the 12th and I only received 3x. I contacted Chase and provided the screen shot from the SW website to show the purchase was made on the 11th. They responded by saying they “were unable to add those additional points”. I’m curious whether anyone else received 3x for their SW purchases on the 11th.

Nick Reyes

I made purchases and receive 50x with both business and personal cards. What did you buy? What date does the transaction show on your statement?

Eric Larson

I purchased points from the Rapid Rewards Point Center. I know purchasing points is generally not a great idea, but my son’s points were on the verge of expiring so I thought this would be an inexpensive way to keep them active. The statement reflects a purchase date of June 12th. I’m on the West Coast and purchased them mid morning so it was well within the 50x time period. Other than sending the screenshot from SW which shows the June 11 purchase date, I unfortunately can’t “prove” the purchase date/time.

PeterC

Amex is saying one of my (large) transactions doesn’t qualify as spend for the sign up bonus on the Platinum card. It was paid to a LTD company in the UK through PayPal. The PayPal receipt lists it as such, and lists the company’s website. The Amex rep said there is nothing they can do and that they must abide by how the transaction codes. Asked to speak to a supervisor, and she said she is a supervisor. Any thoughts on how I can dispute this? Thanks.

Mark canvasser

I have 129 mqm from Delta as if 12/31. I spent 230k last year. Although I Platinum this year, What does it take to maintain Platinum for next year ? Should I cancel my reserve card ( I have the Platinum card) and save the $550 fee?

Mark A Canvasser

129,000MQMs..sorry for the typo

Liza

I can buy a $95 ticket across the country one way or use 8.5K miles. Which is the better deal? Airline charges $35 per 1K miles when purchasing miles. Trip is west coast to east coast so, 3K miles.

FlyerDad

Hi Liza. At that price, pay for the ticket. Plus you’ll earn miles. So you’d really be paying 11.5k miles (includes the 3k you’re foregoing). Not worth it.

Frank

Greg, I am wondering about booking for someone else using my points/miles.
I know hotels generally don’t allow this unless I am staying there too – I have had no trouble in the past booking two rooms, one for myself and the other for someone else at the same time.

Question: which hotel chains allow me to book for someone else entirely (though it would likely be one of my children)?

And which airlines allow this if I am not flying as well? I think all do allow it, but not sure.

This is all assuming I am paying with my points/miles, including taxes+fees.
Could you comment please?

Stephen Olvido

Hello guys, do tours and excursions purchases from tour companies qualify as “travel” for Capital One Venture Rewards card?

Steve-O

American just announced a bonus deal for purchasing miles. If you buy 150,000 miles, you get a 150,000 mile bonus, and used your AA Mastercard to get miles on the purchase price. It would be $4,795 to purchase 304,795 miles. Seems like a pretty good deal. Whatchathink?

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