We’ve completed the first part of the Family Travel Hacking Guide series: how to save money on booking flights with cash. For many, the savings might stop there, and that’s fine. As parents we have limited time; just make sure you know your travel goals before you go about trying to save money.
The Family Travel Hacking Guide will now pivot. We are going to get into the more significant savings that can be achieved through earning as many miles and points as possible. In Part 2, our posts will look at how credit card sign up bonuses can power your family’s travel at a significant cost reduction. How can we earn miles efficiently and cheaply? (Part 3 will address how to use them properly). I’ll never claim that you will fly for free, but if you execute proper strategies you should be able to travel at a major discount.
This first post is here to illustrate what you can do.
Let’s say you are a family of four (two adults) living in a major city on the East Coast and you are hoping to fly to the West Coast next spring break. If you use some of the techniques from Part 1, you probably can easily find tickets for $250-$300 per person. If each ticket for your family costs $250, you are looking at an out of pocket cost of $1000.
You’d like to stay out there for four nights, so you’ll be needing four nights of hotels. Since you need a bigger room for your family, maybe you need to spend $175 per night – so $700 total. That means just getting out there for vacation will cost you $1700.
You could save a lot of that money by signing up for four credit cards (two per person). If each adult in the family signs up for the Hyatt credit card and the Citi AA Platinum Select credit card, you will have enough miles and free nights to cover the entire trip.
Well, the Citi AA card gives you 50,000 bonus miles after $3000 of spending on the card within three months. If both parents get one card, the family will have over 100,000 miles to play with (50,000 X 2 plus miles earned from meeting the spend requirement). Since domestic AA saver tickets cost 25,000 miles round trip, that’s enough miles for your flights.
The Hyatt credit card gives 2 free nights after spending $1000 in three months. 2 X 2 = 4 free nights between the two adults. As you can see, credit card bonuses can easily subsidize a vacation. As long as a family puts $1000/month on their credit card regularly, they can earn all those sign up bonuses in 8 months. The average family spends more.
At this point most beginners have a litany of questions, which I’ll address in the next few posts. But it should be stated here and forevermore: if you are not paying off your credit cards in full, the interest you pay will cost way more than any potential savings!
In the next few posts we’ll address how applying for credit cards affects your credit score, the best strategies for applying for credit cards, some of the best cards out at the moment, and how to avoid bad advice.
Family Travel Hacking Guide Index
Using and Tracking Frequent Flyer Programs
Part 1: Saving Money on Cash Flights
How to find cheap airfare with airfarewatchdog
Finding cheap airfare with The Flight Deal
Finding the cheapest airfare using Kayak alerts
Using Hopper to monitor flight prices
Using Google Flights to search airfare