How to earn a free international flight
You’ve probably heard of “travel hacking,” or the clever practice of leveraging resources like frequent flier miles, points, and other tools to get incredible discounts on plane tickets and accommodations. Brad Barrett, one especially frugal travel enthusiast, managed to plan an entire 10-day trip to Hawaii that ended up costing him less than $25—including food and lodging.
This might sound too good to be true, but Barrett and many other penny-pinching tourists swear that with good money-management skills and a flexible schedule, travel hacking is possible for anyone. If you’re ready to start exploring the world without breaking the bank, here are the top airline tips from travel hackers:
Look for sign-up offers from travel cards
Several travel credit cards offer some serious perks to new applicants, such as bonus miles or free flights. It should be noted that applying for credit cards can temporarily lower your credit score, but if you use the card wisely and pay off the debt in full every month, it should quickly improve. Doing this will also allow you to avoid paying interest, so you’ll basically be given rewards points for free!
Jen Avery, a budget traveler and writer for Thrifty Nomads, recommends the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for new applicants. This card has a $95 annual fee, but it has no foreign transaction charges, and travelers can earn double points on dining and travel anywhere in the world. Card users can earn up to 60,000 bonus points if they spend $4,000 within the first 3 months of applying for the card, and these points can easily be redeemed for a free flight.
Chris Muller, a travel hacking expert at DoughRoller, recommends the Capital One Venture Rewards card or the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express for travelers searching for the best sign-up offers. The Capital One card waives the first annual fee and gives new cardholders $500 in travel credits if they spend $3,000 within the first three months of applying. The Gold Delta SkyMiles card allows you to check your first bag for free when you travel, and you earn double points for every dollar you spend with Delta.
Enroll in Travel Rewards Programs
If you’re not ready to open up a new credit card, there are plenty of loyalty programs with hotels and airlines that you can join to earn points and miles. Most rewards programs also offer additional ways to earn points, such as sending email surveys to receive customer feedback.
David Weliver, a blogger for 30 Under 30, writes that, “Some hotel chains…allow you to ‘double dip,’ meaning you can apply both your hotel rewards number and an airline program to your stay, earning both points and miles.” To get started, Weliver recommends checking out these popular airline rewards programs:
Volunteer to get bumped from your flight
According to Johnny Jet, over half a million people voluntarily leave overbooked flights every year. Some travelers will even book flights just so they can volunteer to get bumped and earn extra funds for traveling!
To people who don’t travel as frequently as they would like, this may sound counter-intuitive. How can you earn free flights if you give up your seat? To explain this common travel hack, there are two things you have to consider:
- Airlines are frequently operating near or at capacity. Every airline’s goal is to make sure each flight will carry the maximum number of passengers, so they will oversell tickets in case some travelers don’t show up. On peak travel days, this means that some people will have to volunteer to catch a later flight.
- Bumped passengers get special benefits. Airlines will provide volunteers with vouchers ranging from $100 to $1,000 per ticket, but if passengers have to wait a long time between flights, they often get additional perks. Travelers may be upgraded to first class for the next flight, receive meal vouchers, or even get a free overnight stay at a nearby hotel.
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Cover photo credits: nataliatelles__