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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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Becca

What is the best way to track your purchases on your different credit cards so you know when you have fulfilled the required limit to get your points? Don’t want to recreate the wheel. Thanks

FrequentMiler

Personally I just obsessively log into each card account each day to look at the totals. There is a tool for doing this, but I’ve never tried it: http://cardwatchdog.com/

ac

Hi. Can i buy visa or MC gift carrds at staples/Sears with staples/Sears gift card??

FrequentMiler

Staples, in-store: only if cashier will allow it (most won’t)
Staples.com: yes
Sears, in store: yes, if cashier will allow it (most will)
Sears.com: no

Newbie

Does upromise give credit for Target gc purchases ?

FrequentMiler

No, I don’t think so. (sorry for the late reply!)

Vinh

FM, I’m baaaack. Haha.

Anyway, just a quick update. Bought items on Kohls via UR portal using a 25% off coupon on 12/5 using 100% gift cards and full points posted on 12/9, so the new rules about “excludes orders using coupons not on site” doesn’t matter…yet.

I’m about to test buying physical gift cards next.

FrequentMiler

Welcome back, and thanks for the update!

MasterCardOwner

Hi! I am trying to liquidate the BF MC GCs I bought at the Walmart kiosk and it keeps getting denied. I tried to use a friendly cashier I know and he said it us going through as credit. Visa GCs work fine in either. Have you has this problem too ? How do I liquidate these. Thanks.

FrequentMiler

Some gift cards just don’t work they way they should with their PINs. In those cases, you probably need to use them as regular credit cards.

Jeri Dickinson

Is Mio being turned into MyVanilla?

FrequentMiler

Jeri Dickinson: Not that I know of. The Mio still seems to be around. I still use it.

Kenau Mehl

I registered on the incorrest BA page and would like to register to claim my miles on a trip I had last year with the reference no.ZZZ8JB. Could you please assist me. Thank You. Kenau Mehl

FrequentMiler

Kenau Mehl: You’ll have to contact BA. They should be able to help you

w s cook

Sleep well, if that is your solution

w s cook

Do you have any authority for Amex making one whole after a loss. This contradicts the written agreement.
By phone they said to seek compenstion from the merchant that honored the card.

FrequentMiler

w s cook: No. I just expect Amex to do the right thing

w s cook

Problem with Bluebird card is lack of security
Balance can be cleaned out at any Walmart register or any other store by purchasing a candy bar and then seeing remaining balance on the receipt. Then make a purchase for the amount of the remaining balance and clean out the limits. No ID, pin or code required to make a purchase. Only recourse is to dispute the charge with the store. (good luck with that) Also one can not obtain cash back from Walmart. You can use Walmart ATM machine for the ATM charge of $2.95 to get some cash.

FrequentMiler

w s cook: Yes, prepaid cards are a bit riskier than credit cards, but I would trust Amex to make me whole if something happened (although it might take a while). If you find a moneypass ATM you can withdraw cash for free.

HAM

Just out of curiosity, I do not have a business but I am interested in obtaining the Chase Ink card just so that I may but reload AMEX cards from Home Depot. The 5x on office supply store sounds pretty amazing as long as I am able to purchase the gift cards. So my question is can i get that card without owning a business?

FrequentMiler

Ham: yes, it’s not hard to get a business card. See How to Sign Up for the Ink Bold for details of how to do it.

Robert smith

If you cancel a credit card, how long before you can apply again and expect to get the points

FrequentMiler

Robert smith: In most cases, it depends on the bank and in some cases it depends on the particular card. With Chase, supposedly you will never get the sign-up bonus again for the same product. Luckily, they change cards occasionally so that they’re considered a new product even if they have the same name. With Amex, you need to wait 366 days after canceling the card. With Citi, it depends on the card. FlyerTalk has lengthy forums about each card that is “churnable” (meaning you can apply over and over and get points each time).

Chery Tankson

hello i just found this website wich reward points wich you can exchange to a ipad or something

Bob DC

Wich is not a word. You should use spellchecker. You meant which, I think

Stella

Bob DC, “Wich” and “Which” should be in quotation marks. Also, you missed a period. You should get a grammar-checker.

Jim

Thanks. I must have been confused. I appreciate your taking the time to respond. And I like your FrequentMiler site – thanks for maintaining it.

Jim

I must have dreamt this….but want to be sure before dismissing the notion. Does Marriott give credit for each hotel night even if staying on reward points at no charge?

FrequentMiler

UPDATE: My original answer was true at the time I wrote it, but the answer has long since changed. Yes, Marriott gives elite night credit on reward stays.
Old answer: Not to my knowledge. Hilton and Starwood give elite credit for award stays, but I don’t think that Marriott does.

Last edited 1 month ago by Greg The Frequent Miler
Joyce

Yes, you earn elite night even if you redeem points for the stay. Marriott annouanced the change few months ago.

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