Want to Fly for Free?
Everyone likes finding money in their pockets, but how about a FREE flight?! That's right, an entire flight on a real live airplane for the sweet price of FREE.95!
I'm sure you've heard by now, but many credit cards partner with airlines, hotels and rental car companies to offer amazing perks to their cardholders. As frequent travelers, we see this as free 'travel money' that we'd be silly to pass up. Here's some of the best tips we found for getting the most out of these cards:
First, pick the right card
There are two types of cards that we've used to earn free flights: cards affiliated with one specific airline and cards that partner with multiple airlines and travel partners.
The first is affiliated with a single airline. We use the 'United Airlines Mileage Plus' credit card through Chase bank and all purchases equal miles that we can use to book flights on United Airlines. The great part about a card affiliated with one specific airline is that most include free checked bags, passes to the lounges, and priority boarding. Plus you earn double points for any in-flight purchases or on United.com.
- The second type of card we use is one that is not affiliated with a single airline. Instead purchases equal points that can be transferred to multiple airlines or other designated 'partners'. We use the Chase Sapphire card. This system allows us to transfer our points at a 1:1 ratio to any of their listed partners which include United Airlines, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton among others. The flexibility is awesome and the 1:1 transfer rate means that 50,000 points = 50,000 miles (or points) regardless of where you transfer it. Also, this card offers double points on any expense deemed 'travel' or 'dining', which we do a lot of, so it works great for us.
- It's worth noting that both cards listed above offer no foreign transaction fees which is amazing when traveling and spending abroad. It kinda feels like this...
"But which type is best" you ask?
That all depends on you. The best card is one that you'll use, so choose one that works with your favorite airline or personal travel style. Love United Airlines? Get the Mileage Plus Card. Do you fly mostly within the US? Check out Southwest. Like to do a lot of both? That's why we got the Sapphire card. Are happy hours and dinners out your jam? Then find a card that offers double points for dining or eating at certain restaurants. Always shop around and make sure to read the fine print and perks.
Other things to note:
- Most cards offer a huge amount of 'welcome' points or miles as an incentive to sign up. Then, they'll also usually offer another smaller 'bonus' for adding an authorized user. Together, this is almost always enough for at least one free flight right off the bat without costing you a dime!
- Know which purchases give you the most bang for your buck. Some cards offer double or triple points for eating at certain restaurants or on certain types of purchases (i.e: travel, dining, etc.) By spending accordingly, you can accrue points much faster!
- Use your card for everything! Bills, groceries, gas, flights, presents, anywhere that accepts credit cards, use it! Think of it as though you're getting double your money: one dollar goes to the purchase itself and another 'free' dollar goes towards your future travels!
- BUT, as with any credit card, pay that shiz off every month and don't run huge balances! Both cards we use accrue interest at super high rates, but that's only a problem if you carry a balance which we thankfully don't. So I repeat: pay. it. off. every. month.
Hey you savvy travelers, got any other ideas or proven hacks for getting free flights? If so, share the love and let us know!
*I feel obligated to insert this disclaimer: we are not financial advisors and in no way claim to know what's best for your financial situation or intend to influence your financial behavior. This is only an example of what's worked for us. Spend at your own risk!