Posts Tagged With: travel hacking

Credit Card Travel Hack Update

2 things happened today…First, I received and activated my Delta Skymiles AmEx today (woot!). Second, I received an email from Chase that my British Airways card had been approved…to which I say WTF.  I applied for this card at least a week before I applied for any of the other cards and I didn’t hear one damn thing from them. I thought my application hadn’t gone through so I applied for the Chase Priority Club card and was instantly approved.  From all I’ve read on how strict Chase is with their cards, getting 2 personal cards within 2 weeks doesn’t seem possible, let alone probable. Nevertheless, it happened, and I’m riding that gravy train all the way to MilesVille, baby!  This does bring up the slightly sticky situation of me having to spend $3,500 in 3 months in order to take advantage of all the bonus miles without actually spending more than I would normally.  It probably wouldn’t be an issue if I was still planning on buying my plane tickets instead of using miles…which I can only get if I fulfill the spending requirements. Damn you, catch 22! 

I might still be able to get around this if I’m very very sneaky.

  • I’m going to make sure that I only spend enough on each card to fulfill my spending requirement, and not a dollar more.
  • When I go down to the beach with some friends, I’ll ask to pay for gas and have them pay me for their portion in cash (about $200).
  • If I take my niece and nephew to see my mom and dad this summer, I’ll ask mom and dad if I can use my credit card to buy our flights and have them reimburse me ($450-550/person, so $1350-1650) (bonus: i’ll also get extra miles if I use the right card).
  • I’ll buy my travel insurance for my first 6 months ($386)
  • I’ll pay for my Australian Work and Holiday visa with a credit card ($365)
  • Anytime I go out to eat with friends (which isn’t very often since I’m on a budget), I’ll ask if anyone is paying in cash. If they are, I’ll take the cash and put their portion on my credit card. (a potential of up to $200 over the next 3 months)

With these little tricks, I have the potential to put $2500-2800 on credit cards without spending anywhere near that amount. Add in rent, utilities, and groceries, and I’ll definitely be able to “spend” $3500 in the next 3 months. Woot! Crisis averted. 

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Flight-y type topics

I was gushing about my shiny new bonus points/miles that I’ll be receiving from my foray into travel hacking and it made me think about how to fully utilize their awesomeness.  Obviously I want to get the most out of each point and that includes figuring out what type of mile gets me the farthest for a particular flight.  Now, I realize I don’t have every single flight I want to take nailed down, and maybe that would be the logical place to start, but when do I ever do anything the way I should?  Instead, I’m going to just look at my first flight.  Hopefully this will help you see how to get the most out of your own points and I can learn as I show you! 🙂

Here are some details of the flight, my points situation, and flight alliances…

— One way from Raleigh-Durham, NC, U.S. to London, England

— Flexible on dates…probably between August 28-30

— ECONOMY class.  I’d rather use fewer points, be a little cramped, and use the leftover points for another flight.

— Just as a reminder, I’ll have 35k in US Airways, 30k in Delta, 30k in American Airlines, and I have 50k Ultimate Rewards which are transferable to United, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Southwest, and Korean Airlines.

— There are 3 major alliances…One World, Skyteam, and Star Alliance.  If Airlines A and B are both part of One World, you can use the miles of A (# of miles depends on the award chart of A) to buy a flight that is on B.

Ok, now, knowing all of that, the first thing I did was plug in To/From and date into Skyscanner just to get an idea of who was flying this route.  I paid special attention to who flew direct. BA (British Airways), AA (American Airlines), and Iberia fly direct, but Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, Delta, US Airways, United and KLM also fly this route with 1 stop.

My first stop was to US Airways…where I found out that you can only use miles for roundtrip flights. Obviously not what I need.

American Airlines has one-way award flights to Europe for 30k miles for economy, peak season…but of course not for my dates.

United has one-way award flights to Europe for 30k miles on the 28, 29, and 30th. Success! It’s actually on a partner flight, Air Canada, but that’s fine with me. The fees are really low too, only $6.80 it looks like!

**Ooo, found a site (awardtravelr.com) that you can plug your date, to and from into and what airline alliance (oneworld, sky team, star alliance), and it will show you what airline has an award flight seat available…It confirmed what I had already guessed. Air Canada, a Star Alliance airline, is the only one with award seat avaliability.

I know I could use United miles (via Ultimate Rewards) to get that Air Canada flight, but I really value my Chase Ultimate Reward points because of their flexibility.  I’d much rather use one of the others, like the Delta miles (sorry delta!).

To determine what other miles I may be able to use, I go to the Star Alliance website to take a look at their partners. US Airways is a Star Alliance partner, so theoretically I should be able to use those points to book this flight, even though that’s not what it looks like on the US Airways website. I scored the web and finally found this helpful article.

To summarize, it basically says that when you search US Airways website for available award flights, it only shows flights that are entirely on US Airways.  To search their partner awards, you actually have to call US Airways.  Before you call, you should search the internet to find out which of their partners are offering flights on that route because the agents are NOT able to search the dozens of partner flights that could get you to your destination. Be patient, be patient, be patient. 

Other tips about redeeming US Airways miles can be found on this page. This includes the number you must call to book partners of US using US miles (1-800-428-4322).

By the way, I can book a one-way, but there is no discount…it costs the same # of miles as  booking a roundtrip. Not a very efficient use of my miles, if you ask me.  However, I might be able to book an open-jaw rt…I’ll have to see.

Wooo! That is enough for today! It looks like I will most likely book with United miles, even though I’d rather hoard those miles for something else. I’ll keep you posted as I learn any new info on this subject!

 

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Beginner Guide to Travel Hacking Part 1

I wanted to update yall on my progress with Sensei Rick from the frugaltravelguy.com as I learn the travel hacking ways and also give you a few tips to help you travel hack your way into a free flight (or 3).

Today I took the plunge and applied for 4 travel credit cards (well technically 3, 1 I signed up for 2 days ago) based on Rick’s method.  I signed up for…

  1. Barclay’s US Airways Premier World MasterCard (35k miles after 1st purchase, $89 annual fee waived for first year)
  2. American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Visa (30k miles when you spend $500 in 3 months, $95 annual fee waived for first year)
  3. Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage Visa (30k miles when you spend $1k in 3 months, $95 annual fee waived for first year)
  4. Chase Priority Club Select Visa (80k points when you spend $1k in 3 months $49 annual fee waived for first year)

Sooo, basically, I need to (somehow) spend $2500 in 3 months to get 95k miles in various airline programs, 80k points in a hotel rewards program, and a whole host of other perks like priority boarding on Delta, US Airways, and American and 1st free checked bag on Delta and American…oh wait, that’s rent and utilities. DONE.

The tips that I found to be most recurring between travel hacking websites were these…

  1. Respect your credit!
  2. Take time out between your credit card churns…at least 3 months between each batch
  3. Keep your longest cards to help keep your credit stable
  4. Look for low spending requirements and high bonuses
  5. In a batch, only apply for one card per whatyacallit (i.e. one chase card, one barclays, one AmEx, etc.). Sorry, having a brain fart.
  6. Pick cards with points that you’ll actually use such as (I picked Priority Club card bc if i play it right, I could end up with 16 free nights of accommodation.)

That’s it for now because my eyes are crossing. Happy travels!

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Travel Hack

Yesterday, I spent most of the night reading up on travel hacking via points/miles which you can acquire in the slow, respectable way (just when you buy something or take a flight) or through the slightly sneaky way of credit card churning.  Well, since I’ve been trying to keep my spending to a minimum, credit card churning it is.  

Here’s a quick overview of what I learned from frugaltravelguy.com, thepointsguy.comextrapackofpeanuts.com, flyertalk.com, boardingarea.com, millionmilesecrets.com, etc.

  1. First, credit is a valuable asset…don’t squander it!  This is an important rule, that all of the above travel hackers live by.  You never NEVER want to put your credit in serious jeopardy for a few measly points.
  2. Be creative…go beyond flying to earn miles, or staying at a hotel to earn points.  There are ways you can earn points/miles out there for free (just require a little time)
  3. Make sure you are earning miles/points that you will actually be able to use.  For instance, if you aren’t planning on going to Europe, getting points you could use on RyanAir (though I don’t think RyanAir even has a points system, so this is completely hypothetical) would be a waste of your time.  Acquiring a bunch of American Airlines points, however, would be useful even if you usually fly British Airways, because they are affiliates.
  4. This will take time to get the hang of so don’t get impatient.

Yes, those are very general and no, they don’t tell you how you can go earn a million points right off the bat, but hey, I’m new to this too!  My advice if this is something you want to pursue, read through the websites of the guys I listed above and find your own gurus (and then tell me the website address so i can learn too 🙂 )

Before I go, another (i think) great resource to get you in the travel hacking game is the Travel Hacking Cartel. Yes, it costs money, but you can do a 14 day trial for a dollar, something I definitely plan on taking advantage of once work calms down and I have the time.  

’til next time!

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