Easily Earn Points for Free Travel
The ultimate travel hack is "free travel". That starts with earning lots of frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and credit card rewards.
Everyone can easily earn enough reward points for free hotel nights and frequent flyer tickets. With a little bit of effort, you can easily earn enough reward points for multiple free airplane tickets and hotel stays each year.
From Credit Cards
Unless you travel frequently for work, travel and reward credit cards are the key to unlocking significant amounts of "free" travel. Most people can earn a lot more frequent flyer miles and hotel points from credit cards than they can just from their actual trips.
Unless you have trouble handling credit, we strongly recommend that you take advantage of one or both of our basic credit card strategies:
|Collect Credit Card Signup Bonuses.. Collecting credit card signup bonuses is the easiest way to earn really large quantities of points (which you can use for free hotel nights, airplane tickets, and other travel expenses). While it might seem a little crazy, we strongly recommend that you give it a try.|
|Use a Really Good Rewards Credit Card for All Your Purchases. It takes almost no effort to upgrade your current credit card, use it as frequently as possible, and steadily earn travel rewards over the course of the year. If you aren't going to collect signup bonuses, you should at least do this.|
If you are willing to invest more effort, you can use more advanced strategies to boost the rewards you earn from your credit card spending.
|Optimize Rewards by Using Different cards for Different Purchases. Many credit cards offer bonus rewards on different categories of spending. If you are willing to deal with a handful of cards, you can boost your rewards by using different cards for grocery, restaurant, travel, and other spending categories.|
|Boost your rewards with "Pick Your Own Category", "Rotating Category" and Gift Cards. By putting in even more effort, you can take advantage of some specialized cards to earn 5-10% in credit card rewards over a wider range of purchases.|
Add on additional rewards and discounts. You can further boost your rewards and savings by taking advantage of shopping portals, dining programs, and other card-linked offers.
|Manufactured Spending (expert). Advanced points enthusiasts generate large amounts of extra points by taking advantage of opportunities to generate additional credit card spending, without really spending any "real" money (other than some fees). Most of these approaches require lots of research and effort, are only for advanced travel hackers, and aren't covered in depth on this site.|
From Your Travel
Its always worth making the small amount of extra effort to earn points from your flights, hotel stays, and car rentals. If you don't, you are essentially throwing away free points. While you may not always earn very many points, they will gradually build up over time. And a tool called AwardWallet makes it simple to deal with large numbers of loyalty programs.
|From Your Flights. It is easy to earn airline miles from almost all your flights. And rather than having them spread across lots of programs, you can usually consolidate them into only a small number of frequent flyer accounts.|
|From Your Hotel Stays. You should always sign up for the hotel's loyalty program before your stay. You won't just earn some potentially valuable reward points, you'll gain access to lower "member" rates and a few extra benefits. It only takes a minute and will save you time and money over the long run.|
|Manger Your Loyalty Accounts with AwardWallet. AwardWallet is free service that eliminates most of the effort of remembering and managing your loyalty program accounts.|
If you only need a small amount of additional points to book award travel or you find a particularly lucrative award opportunity, it can make sense to simply buy the points you need for a free trip. Don't think of it as free travel, think of it as a way to get a substantial discount on the normal cash price.
Best Reward Earning Rates
Guides to Credit Card Point Programs
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