Travel is without doubt one of the most important things to me, and I am excited to soon launch the Travel section of this site which will talk about our adventures and what we have had the chance to see and do. Over the years I have grown accustomed to travelling in a little more style than when I was younger, and I certainly want to maintain this lifestyle, but not at the expensive of my goal of Financial Independence, actually at no expense at all ideally.
Travel Hacking is a way to travel for little to no cost, using Frequent Flier and Hotel Points programs, along with Coupons and Promotions, since I started to Travel Hack I have gone from Coach to Business Class and from 3 star paid hotels to 5 star complimentary ones (often with free upgrades on top of the normal room!).
Laying the foundation for Travel Hacking
Join ALL the Loyalty programs you can think of, including ones you don’t expect to use, as there are points earning opportunities everywhere.
Airlines are grouped into 3 major alliances, for me the best 2 are Star Alliance and OneWorld, though Skyteam does have its value too and shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are the Member Airlines:
If you are based in the USA I would recommend a minimum of joining the ones I highlighted in the list – you can feel free to join them all but for me some I am less likely to accrue miles on.
I picked the following: United, US Airways, American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Delta simply because these all come with Credit Cards associated with the plan, and once your debt is under control using Credit Cards is a great way to travel for free.
Miles are Accrued in the following ways – Credit Card spending and new Credit Card signup bonuses, Online Shopping Portals, Social Media Promotions: Facebook Likes etc, Affiliate promotions – your electric company, signing up for Netflix etc, and, heaven forbid – actually flying on a revenue ticket. Keep track of your miles using AwardWallet that I talked about in this post on Free Tools
The great thing about these alliances is that they allow travel throughout the world for member partners, however some of the airlines within the groups have their own rules and regulations on how much inventory they share with partners, also there is an art to knowing which program to use for the best value for your miles.
For example. British Airways is great for anything other than flying on British Airways! More specifically they are best value for short hops as they are a distance based award, and you can use them from the East Coast EG New York to Toronto on their Partner American Airlines for 4500 miles each way, with current Credit Card sign up bonuses of 100,000 miles per card that is a lot of free travel! However if you use them on British Airways metal and fly to London (or anywhere that includes a stop in London, which is Everywhere!) then you get hit with huge fees, they call them fuel surcharges and other things but basically it is extra revenue for BA and makes the ticket worthless. I’ll post more about the different programs in the future, and how to get the most out of them.
The other thing to note is that Banks who supply the Credit Cards are linked to certain Airlines, and therefore Alliances. The relationships are as follows: Citibank for American Airlines, Chase for United, American Express for Delta. These three banking relationships are important, and if you want to gain good mileage in all these plans then you will have to look into getting cards with these companies sooner or later. Just remember – these are never to be used for Credit! These are to be paid off in full every month (in fact before the statement is due).