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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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William Zackey

Very poor information-Could not get answers of this site–Called and they could not help–talked to 4 different people

DonDover

Both you and Nick Reyes wrote extensively about Marriott/SPG travel packages. I wonder if you or Nick could help me because I am still confused about how to proceed. I bought a Category 6 seven night package on 08/15 and am not sure about what I should do regarding asking for the 30k bonus refund or booking a stay. Example: I am interested in the Westin Cayman resort which right now is listed as a Category 6 hotel on the Marriott site. Will my package certificate change in designation and no longer be a “6”? If so, should I book now while the Westin and my certificate match? And if I ask for the 30k refund now, will that cause something which will prevent me form booking the Westin? I would like this to end with my receiving the 30k points refund and a booking at the Cayman resort. Thank you for any help you may offer.

Sam

Greg, today I attached an OLD category 1-5 certificate to a hotel that is a new category 5 but used to be a category 7 or 8. (I can’t remember which) Interesting!!!! I’m confirmed!!! The hotel is Renaissance Republique Paris. YMMV. If anything changes I’ll let u know. I just did it. Afternoon of September 4. I did notice that in the section for my awards on the Marriott site it still says my certificate is a category 1-5. Ie it hasn’t been updated to 1-4.

Paul Hutchins

Direct MS Question
Just got approved for SPG Luxury Card from AMEX. My question is this, with the minimum spend requirement of $5K I’m either going to have to get creative or MS to hit the min spend. Slightly worried about shutdown or clawbacks with MS on AMEX specifically with the purpose of hitting minimum spend.
What percentage if any of the $5K min on MS threshold with earning min spend on SPG cards? I should probably add AMEX is used to seeing the “usual suspects” on my other SPGs since I MSed pretty hard on them for the last couple years and really hit it hard in the lead up to Aug when the everyday spend return dropped

Dori

I need some advice. I’ve been in the miles/pts game for a little bit. See so I have the Chase Trifecta( Reserve, Freedom Unl, Freedom) and Amex Platinum and several others. I’ve found the Chase UR pts to be the best and easiest to use, so I’d like to get another Chase card, but I’ve been unsuccessful getting approved for the Chase business cards(prior to app, Chase rep said I was not in violation of 5/24 Chase rule, but denial letter said I had opened too many cards within last 24mos). Any suggestions on how to get approved for another UR Chase card? Or next best reward cards to apply for? I have good amount of spend coming up now and over course of year and I want to capitalize on as many bonus promos as I can. Would greatly appreciate some actionable advice. Thanks all!

Dori

Greg, Thanks for the advice. I may try this. Instead, I opened a Citi Premier card.

I actually spoke with Chase today about the denials and was informed by the lending department that I “have opened too many cards in the last 24mos, not only Chase cards.” I asked specifically how many is too many and I was told that they cannot give me that information. I asked repeatedly. No direct answer was given. I wonder if anyone else has had this experience.

Sam

Greg, not sure where to post this….so I hope you see this.

In all this marriott TP chitter chatter, one thing keeps nagging me: Why Why WHY are they still selling these?

They arbitrarily shut down the Ritz card in the dead of night. (Maybe it was Chase, but still….these things CAN be done.)

Why not just shut the TP program down as well? In the middle of the night. Then they can make their announcement as to what they are doing in preparationg for D-Day, August 18. It would lead to a smoother transition.

But they aren’t doing that. They are still selling them.

I can think of only two reasons:

1) They still haven’t figured out what to do. But even then, they could still just shut everything down and figure it out in the next week or so.

2) Or they WANT us to use points, so they get as many points off their books as possible. Points are of course a kind of liability on the balance sheet. They’ll take a charge for the Wall Street analysts for the merger anyway, and then they move on.

This way their balance sheet looks as clean as possible.

My guess is that they will do something generous, but whatever it is, I think they want those points off their books and as such, I doubt they’ll just redeposit the points. Who knows?

The point again tho is: why the heck are they still selling these things?

Ed. C

My wife received her first Chase personal card recently and after setting up online access for her, the first thing I did was go the Chase Credit Journey to check her report. I was shocked to see it says she has 5 opened accounts in the last 2 years, which I knew wasn’t true. I then went to Credit Karma and checked both her TransUnion report and her Equifax report, and then I went to Experian and checked her report there. All 3 showed the same information – that she has 3 opened accounts in the last 2 years with 2 of those being authorized user accounts. Even counting her Chase Ink Cash card and her new, unreported as of yet, Freedom card she would only be at 5 with the authorized user accounts.

Why would Chase Credit Journey show 5 accounts when TransUnion, where they get their information from, shows 3 accounts? I am hoping she can get the CSP in a couple of months and realize Chase bases their account decisions on Experian’s report, so is this anything to be concerned about?

Freeman

Hi Greg – I recently applied for a Chase Business Card. Even though I am over the 5/24 limit, I thought that since it was a business card, I might get approved. I was denieged the card, but their reason for the denial was a little funny. They said, “Too many credit cards opened in the last two years associated with you”. I agree I have had to many cards under their 5/24 rule, but they implied they made the decision based on my Trans Union credit bureau information – an account that is locked and can not be accessed by creditors.

Thanks for your comment,

Freeman

Thanks Greg – what do you think about their reason for not approving my application -I agree I have had to many cards under their 5/24 rule, but they implied they made the decision based on my Trans Union credit bureau information – an account that is locked and can not be accessed by creditors. Can the credit card company access my credit bureau for information even if it is “locked”?

Glenn

Give me some points pleeeease!

Andrew

Hi Greg,

I know that it has been asked and answered a dozen times , but I am still confused:

“ will fifty combined nights in calendar year 2018, at starwood as well as Marriott hotels result in qualifying for platinum in 2018, with platinum status lasting until approximately March 1 2020? “

If you can answer this for me I would appreciate it. The mid year transition has confused me.

Thank you

texasflyer

Greg,
I have tons of miles(millions) in most US based airline programs( aa, united, sw, aeroplan, alaska) , and in spg, and MR.
Also have a ton of 7 night marriott certs that i got through marriott air+hotel packages.
I travel a lot on international premium class using points (and domestically using companion pass, Avios (when it is not down) and MR 35% off for last minute travel – alas the MR 50% days just went away).

What do you recommend i do with my spg points? Am skeptical of buying marriott air+hotel packages, but dont see any other option that is safe (remember that i continue to earn spg points in the meantime, which i will SWITCH to Chase spend after aug 1)

Am worried about Aug 1. I have read most blogs and realize what possible changes can happen.
Should i buy some MORE alaska/united packages? They offer the best charts/value currently of all air+hotel packages.

AA – i did many air+hotel packages when they had their huge transfer bonuses, so have enough AA miles.

In my estimate the transfer bonus AA, Aeroplan, United have offered in the past, easily outweigh the depreciation that miles would suffer, hence i went to town when those bonuses were announced, hence have plenty of those 3 airline points.

Texasflyer

Jgoldberg

They are a rip off . Said I can redeem by end of month and am locked out

Adam

Hi!

I will try to make this very quick as I know you have tons of emails. If I have an option to get AA platinum (50k) or delta silver (25k) before the end of 2019, which would you choose. The caveat is that I will be living in Atlanta starting in 2019. I don’t really care about having to have one connection to most places considering Atlanta isn’t an AA hub. What would you chose? One other thing, I can get AA platinum in the next 20 days via a status challenge.

Thanks so much for your opinion!

Sue

I would love to win!

Yankee

Please help/guide to find the easiest way to check the availability of the turkish airlines award flights that we can book thru aeroplan later.

Thanks

BoardingArea