The best method for how to get free flights for life is through travel hacking, the responsible use of travel credit cards to earn points to redeem for free flights.
I’ve personally been able to get countless free flights by travel hacking. In the past year alone, I saved over $4000 USD on flights to over 10 different countries with this travel hacking method I’m about to teach you.
The best part is, if you follow the essential travel hacking rules, there is basically no limit to how many times you replicate this method, which means you truly can get free flights for life.
Travel Hacking For Beginners
What is travel hacking?
Travel hacking refers to the use of travel credit card opening bonuses that you earn with everyday expenses and pay off monthly to redeem for free flights.
Basically, there are six steps to travel hacking.
- Open a travel credit card that offers a large opening bonus (ideally over 50,000 miles).
- Earn the opening bonus with everyday expenses, such as groceries and gas (nothing more).
- Pay off the card in full every month.
- Redeem the opening bonus miles for free flights.
- Close the card account.
- Repeat with a new card.
What is a travel credit card opening bonus?
When you open a travel credit card, there is typically some sort of opening bonus that the credit card company offers to incentivize you to open and use the card.
The bonuses usually consist of a certain amount of bonus miles earned for spending a certain dollar amount with the card in a certain amount of time.
For example, a credit card company may offer 70,000 bonus miles after spending $3000 in the first three months of opening the card. These 70,000 bonus miles equate to about $700 in free flights, which could easily buy you a trip to Europe and back.
Generally speaking, for every 10,000 miles you earn, you get $100 in flights to redeem for free.
After you redeem the bonus miles for travel (you will always get the best ROI on redeeming for flights, although you can redeem for accommodations too), you close the card before the next annual fee is due.
Then, you repeat the steps with a different card.
How much do you have to spend to get a free flight?
Contrary to popular belief, you only need to spend about $1000 per month on groceries, gas and other everyday expenses to get a free flight.
There is a common misconception that you have to overspend in order to get a free flight with credit card points. However, in reality, you can get endless free flights just by spending your normal expenses.
You just have to earn opening bonuses with new cards.
I’ve traveled all over the world using credit card points. In fact, I booked my entire honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast of Italy (flights and accommodation) using credit card points and only had to pay about $100 in city taxes.
Last year, I booked 12 different flights to, from and around Europe for $4 total.
That’s a $3000+ savings solely from maximizing opening bonuses.
Travel Hacking Tips You Need To Know
Obviously, there is a stigma around using credit cards — and for good reason.
You need to follow these essential travel hacking rules in order to protect (and increase) your credit score and maintain good financial health.
For instance, if you’re prone to overspending, travel hacking may not be the best way for you to get free flights for life. Soon, I’ll mention a few other ways later that may better suit you.
For now, here are 8 rules you need to follow when travel hacking.
1. Only put your normal living expenses on the credit card.
In travel hacking, the key to earning the opening bonus is to only put your everyday expenses on the card (groceries, gas, housing if able, etc.) — nothing more. This way, you can earn the bonus miles without going into credit card debt.
Never ever spend more than you can afford. You will not come out ahead in travel hacking if you spend above your means.
2. Treat your credit card like a debit card.
To make sure you are only spending within your means, treat your travel credit card like a debit card.
Meaning, it’s a good rule of thumb to pay off your credit card every time you use it. This way, you’ll only ever spend what you already have in your bank account.
Moreover, you’ll never miss a payment deadline or get charged interest fees.
3. Never miss a payment deadline.
Along the same lines, never miss a credit card payment deadline when travel hacking (or ever, but especially when your goal is to travel hack).
Credit card companies make money off of your tardiness. Every time you miss a monthly payment deadline, you are charged a hefty fee. You need to avoid these fees in order to come out ahead when travel hacking.
4. Pay your card off in full every month.
In addition, credit card company fees are another reason why you cannot spend above your means when travel hacking. Whenever you spend more than you can pay off in a month, you’re going to be charged with insane interest fees.
Most travel credit cards have interest rates between 20-30% (extremely high), so it’s essential that you pay off your card in full each month.
Otherwise, you’ll go backwards in terms of travel savings.
5. Avoid annual fees.
Most credit cards that offer worthwhile benefits and opening bonuses have an annual fee attached to them. This means you will pay a fee (usually between $80-$500) every year you keep the card account open.
While the annual fees are worthwhile for some of the credit cards (such as the Capital One Venture, Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards), you should aim to open cards when they have a “no annual fee for the first year” promotion running.
That way, you won’t ever have to pay the annual fee as long as you redeem the miles and close the card within one year of opening.
6. Open cards when you have a large purchase coming up.
To help you meet the opening bonus spending minimums, open a card when you know you have a large purchase coming up.
For example, a great time to open a new card would be before purchasing a new phone, computer or large piece of furniture.
Of course, again, don’t put large purchases on the credit cards unless you can pay them off in full.
7. Stay organized.
Obviously, there are a lot of fees and due dates to remember when travel hacking. So, it is essential to stay organized.
Sometimes, you may want to have multiple cards open at a time, which means you will have multiple payment due dates, opening bonus minimum spendings, opening bonus deadlines and annual fee deadlines to keep track of.
A simple spreadsheet, like my Travel Hacking Spreadsheet you can download for free, can easily keep your travel hacking accounts organized so you never miss a deadline.
8. Do not begin travel hacking if you have other credit card debt.
Travel hacking is not for you if you have other credit card debt. The last thing you should do when you have credit card debt is open another credit card to enable more debt.
Travel hacking to get free flights for life will always be available to you when you’re back out of debt.
Download my free printable Travel Hacking Rules Checklist here for easy access all of these imperative rules you need to follow when travel hacking.
Can you get free flights for life?
Yes, most people can get free flights for life by travel hacking.
As mentioned, if you follow the essential travel hacking rules and maximize the opening bonuses of new travel credit cards, the amount of free flights you can get is basically endless.
More Ways To Get Free Flights For Life
Of course, travel hacking is not for everyone. If you struggle with overspending and don’t trust yourself with a credit card, you should not begin travel hacking. This could be detrimental to your credit score and overall financial health.
So, here are a few additional ways to get free flights for life.
1. Get a part time job at an airline as a ticketing agent, gate agent, baggage handler or flight attendant.
Most airlines offer flight benefits where you can fly for free by non rev flying. I have full guide to non-rev flying here that explains the ins and outs of flying as an airline staff member. Some airlines even offer free flights for life for their employees and employee family members.
2. Fly for free using a buddy pass from a friend or relative who works for an airline.
If you are close to someone who works for an airline, you could use what’s called a “buddy pass” or “companion pass” to use their non rev flying benefits. Most airline employees are given a certain amount of buddy passes every year.
However, never assume that they will automatically give you a buddy pass. You never want to come across as entitled or like you’re taking advantage of your friends or family members.
3. Become a travel photographer, blogger or influencer and work with airlines in exchange for free flights.
If you have a knack for photography or writing, use your talents to work with airlines in exchange for free flights.
All airlines need photography for promotional purposes. Airlines constantly need new photos for their website, social media accounts, brochures, advertisements and more.
Thus, many travel bloggers and photographers, such as myself, pitch projects with airlines to provide the airlines with these promotional materials in exchange for free flights. I learned how exactly to pitch these projects in The Blogger Bootcamp.
Obviously, these methods for how to get free flights for life require a bit more work than travel hacking, which is why travel hacking is by far the best way to get free flights.
If you want to dive deeper into the world of travel hacking, check out my ebook, The Budget Travel Bible. In the ebook, I’ll teach you exactly how I’ve flown all over the world for free, stayed in luxury hotels on a major budget and safely increased my credit score while doing so.
More Tips On How To Get Free Flights For Life
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