Having your dream vacation or just a small retreat from the hustles of life does not come cheap nowadays, what with the airfares and hotel rates racking up to cost something no less than a fortune. Instead of laying back and enjoying life on your vacations, you end up worrying about all the money you’re spending for a few days of relaxation.
However, with the increasing popularity of reward programs, there are ways to travel for practically free. Read on to know how to make the most out of these programs!
Airline and Hotel Loyalty Programs
Most of the major airlines and hotel chains have loyalty programs in which you earn points every time you book a flight or a hotel room. These points can later be redeemed for free flights or hotel stays. Basically, the more you travel, the more you can travel for free.
Being a member of some of the well-known airline loyalty programs will give you enough points with 3 flights to score a free flight. Many hotel loyalty programs offer things other than points too, such as free Wi-Fi and room upgrades, and they’re all free to join.
Travel Rewards Credit Cards
You can earn points even quicker through reward credit cards. Nowadays, there are a lot of airline-specific and hotel-specific travel rewards credit cards so it can be hard to decide which one(s) to pick. Your best bet is to pick a card which is not affiliated with only one particular airline or hotel. This way, you will have more control about how you redeem your racked up points. For example, if you end up not travelling that much you can redeem your points for gift cards or cash.
However, if you find yourself frequenting a particular hotel or airline, it’s best if you get the airline/hotel branded rewards cards to obtain benefits specific to that hotel or airline.
The best way to accumulate points is to simultaneously make use of both loyalty programs and rewards cards.
Don’t Neglect Sign-Up Offers
Most rewards cards offer up bonuses for spending a certain amount of money within 90 days after you sign up. Availing these sign-up offers is the best way to rack up enough points for free travelling.
Bonuses from one card alone can be enough to get you free flights for you and your family. But what’s better than one? Two. You can rack up far more points if you sign-up for more than one card and avail their sign-up offers. You should apply this technique by signing up for a new card every 3 months, to make it easier to meet the spending requirements to avail the sign-up offer. Couples can take this one step further by signing up for cards with bonus offers simultaneously.
Use Your Cards Whenever and Where Ever You Can
Charge your travel credit cards in your daily life everywhere possible to redeem the most point to get those free hotel stays and plane tickets. Get over your reluctance of racking up credit card debt if you want to save money on travel expenses in the long run. Use your travel credit cards to buy groceries, gas and pay your regular utility bills even.
Keep several cards on you and use the one which will give you the most points for a particular purchase. Download the Wallaby app to help you out here, as it will help you identify which card to use for which purchase to get the most reward points.
Pay Off Cards Regularly
Make it a habit to pay off your credit cards on a regular basis; once a week or once a month at least. More balance equals more interest. By carrying a balance for a long time you could end up with more debt than rewards.
Book Trips In Advance
Now that you’ve earned all those points, you should also know how to redeem them in a way which benefits you the most.
Book your trips well in advance, especially when the rewards availability for your destination is at the peak. For example, December is peak travel season therefore there are few rewards available in December. Your best bet is to book your trip 9 months prior to avail the best rewards and travel the cheapest.
Save up on points by booking your trips in the off season. Travelling in the off season is good too, as you get to save up on hotel reward points. Overseas flights can be particularly expensive. Save up on overseas travels by travelling on Wednesdays, as most airlines offer more reward seats on mid-week flights.
Keeping multiple cards can get confusing and hectic. Use spreadsheets to keep track of all your cards. Notable things to keep track of include:
1. Date you signed up for the card.
2. Date by which you need to spend a certain amount to earn the sign-up bonus.
3. Date when the annual fee is charged.
We know it might sound like a tedious task, but in the end you’ll be glad you did it. Getting stuff for free is good and all, but you don’t want your life to be complicated with it so be sure to stay organized!
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