Updated: Jan 12, 2020
Sick of paying crazy prices to fly, so were we! After years of feeling gouged by the airlines we decided to figure out ALL the hacks to flying at a lower cost, or better yet… FREE!
After years of working in the travel industry and still feeling helplessly gouged by the airlines prices we rolled up our sleeves to find a better way.
And guess what….
To put these newly learned techniques into play we put it to the ultimate challenge by trying to fly completely around the world.
And guess what….
We just flew completely around the world… for FREE!
Total Cost = ZERO
Read this article and we’ll share some of the secrets we learned so that you can get started yourself on flying for nothing, or close to it!
This article will cover one of the major ways we greatly reduce or eliminate the cost of airline travel, while in another article we’ll cover other techniques on how to book differently to save majorly!
Why are we writing this?
One of the most expensive parts of traveling, and one that often has little wiggle room is Flying! What if we told you that there is a way…. A LEGAL way to hack the airline flight game, would you be interested? Would you take the time and energy to obtain the perks of these respective “Flight Hacks?”
Flight Hacking is not new, and something that we stumbled upon ourselves being in the travel industry, loving to travel and having a need to get around the planet on a budget. Before we get into Flight Hacking, I wanted to share with you WHY we did it and a little of our journey into all of this. If you want to skip this part, just roll down to the section that says STEP 1, it won’t hurt our feelings.
In May of 2018 while running my toes through the sand in Myrtle Beach I decided to open Instagram for the first time… ever! Within minutes I noticed people were leveraging their following to barter and exchange hotel stays and product in exchange for content (pictures or videos). I turned to Amy and said, “Hey, let’s do this… seems like fun”!
….Oh wait, are you going to teach us how to become travel influencers on Instagram as a way to get free flights?
NO, that’s not it!
Don’t worry, you wont have to develop a website, sharpen your photography and videography skills, create a marketing kit and pitch airlines for free flights as we did with hotels and tourism boards for almost a year. While joining the travel influencer community via Instagram did provide us with a myriad of free perks over the course of a year, this did nothing for us in the airline flight department!
Perhaps one day we’ll write an ebook or produce a video series on how to marshal the instagram world as a travel influencer. We had an absolute blast and enjoyed free hotels, activities and food at destinations all over the US! Additionally we did brand work for and received free product from companies selling suitcases, shoes, and clothing to name a few. In fact the two suitcases we drugged around the world,… those were free. Getting free stuff is fun… BUT it was also a LOT of work, so we pivoted!
Fast forward to October of 2018. I decided to drop to one knee in beautiful Savannah Georgia to ask my then girlfriend Amy to be my wife . Thankfully she said yes and so began our year long planning of a simple wedding,… but a ridiculous honeymoon.
Shortly after our engagement we decided to enter the travel industry further as agents in an effort to learn more about the travel industry as well as find a way to monetize it. With dreams of traveling around the world, Amy needed a career change into an industry that allowed her the ability to work from anywhere. She was a dental assistant at the time…. Try telling your boss you want two months off!
Oh wait, do we need to become travel agents in order to get incredible deals on flights?
NO, you don’t!
While entering into the industry as agents provided us many perks and usable knowledge of the travel world, saving us dollars… it still didn’t address ONE thing…
FLIGHTS!!! How do we get cheaper flights!
Now engaged and with flexible careers, we set our sights traveling completely around the world. Finding accommodations wasn’t difficult, however getting there was starting to add up! Just the flights alone around the world to the places we wanted to go was starting to run north of $12,000.
This dream was starting look like it couldn’t be a reality… until we discovered the art of Flight Hacking!
We didn’t invent it, you may even be doing it at a small level, but what we did do is invest time in it, study it and became wildly obsessed with it.
… and damn good at it!
O.K. What is it Already???
We learned how to leverage the credit card bonus point systems to it’s MAXIMUM CAPACITY and fly for free. We’ve become true credit card ninja masters in the areas of:
Which cards to use
When to use the cards
How to cash in rewards
When to cash in on rewards
…. and much more to MAXIMIZE the benefits! So good we took 18 flights around the world and didn’t pay for it.
Truly hacking the travel reward card system is VERY confusing! The US is a credit card obsessed country and you are likely already inundated with a plethora of offers on a daily basis in your mailbox and your inbox!
With so many cards out there to chose from, how do you know which are actually good for travel and which are just a waste of your time? How do you sift through the sign-up bonuses, offers, annual fees, perks, loyalty programs, rules, fees, and everything else in the fine print?
Most people say “F” it… this is too complex and end up using a random credit card that doesn’t maximize their potential, or even worse… a debit card (just cut those things up)!
Don’t worry…. we’ve done the work and in this article I’m going to teach you the basics of how you can get started on your way of flight hacking!
Here are a few of our favorite cards TODAY that have the best rewards! We have nearly all of these, and yes use them ALL and ALWAYS pay them off EVERY month.
Keep reading... as we are now going to get into the nitty gritty of how to work the system, pick the right cards, and how to get started. If you want to hit our page that lists all the cards we recommend and start applying now... then click HERE! Otherwise keep reading and we'll walk you the the THREE STEPS!
STEP 1 - KNOW THE GROUND RULES
First things first we need to establish some basic ground rules and a few burning questions you may have.
Can Anyone Do This?
Yes, virtually anyone can do this! However there are a few things to consider prior too jumping into this highly rewarding game.
Do I need Good Credit?
In order to qualify for these reward cards you do indeed need pretty good credit. While you don’t need to have a 800+ credit beacon, you do need to roll in the mid 600’s and above to qualify for most of these credit cards. If your credit is not so good NOW… don’t worry as with a little effort you can repair that credit quickly and be in the game in no time.
Will it Hurt My Credit?
No, not if you do it right. When you apply for too many credit cards all at once it can have a short term negative effect on your credit. Every time you apply for a card, or a mortgage or a car loan… your credit dips. If you apply for too much at once, that can hurt your credit. However if you space out your inquiries it will have no impact on your credit whatsoever. When it comes time to canceling these cards… as you will need to do that, cancelling has NO effect on your credit. So keep those scissors sharp!
Pay Them OFF Every Month… No Exceptions!
I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but credit card debt is the WORST debt you can have. Paying 15%-28% on a Starbucks Coffee you bought 2.5 years ago is just ridiculous if you think about it. We are NOT condoning spending outside of your means. In fact quite the opposite. We want you to spend within your limits, but have those limits directed on the correct cards. We want to teach you how to leverage the competitive credit card landscape to your advantage and reap all the rewards.
If you spend outside your means and pay interest then all your hard work to receive the amazing rewards is null as you’ve now just paid for that Starbucks Coffee 4 times!
Do I Charge Everything?
Yes, literally everything. From a pack of gum to your rent/mortgage if they let you. However as stated above… STAY within your means. ONLY spend what you can afford to pay off or this isn’t worth your trouble in late fees and interest.
We set our monthly budget and ensure that our spend doesn’t exceed that. The magic allure of the “plastic” and the idea of “eh, I’ll pay this off later” can get very dangerous very quickly!
With that in mind and under control you want to then charge everything! We literally NEVER have cash on us. When my kids ask me for 5 bucks for something I never have it! We just don’t hold cash, because we want to use those cards. All of our bills are on autopay via credit card and we’ve gone as far as choosing one vendor over another because they accept credit cards for payment versus bank ACH.
The key is getting nearly every bit of your monthly expense to run through a card that you pay off every month. Filter every expense through a card prior to it hitting your check book. You’d be amazed on what you can pay for on a card.
Does it take work?
Yes, this game does require some attention to detail, but we are here to help. The KEY is knowing when to use what cards, what cards to get and not get, and how to use the rewards. Don’t worry… we’ll show you the ropes on all of this, just follow our lead!
Do I need to own a business?
No. You are not required to own a business in order to do this. However if you do own a business, it does indeed open things up to you with some of the business cards that exist today! Personal cards have massive opportunities in todays card market, and the business cards have even more! We use BOTH as we own businesses. We charge literally everything we can personal on our personal cards we are using and vice versa for any business expense. When we combine the two to them, the rewards are overwhelming at times!
Two is Better Than One!
If you have a significant other and they are on board, that can be powerful! Don’t apply for ONE card and simply have the other get added to your account. This is silly people! You EACH apply for the card and BOOM…. double the rewards!
Is this legal?
Yes… absolutely! Nothing illegal about enjoying the somewhat absurd perks card companies offer! Honestly, at times it doesn’t feel legal because the perks we receive are beyond plentiful.
Know Your Why?
So what’s your goal here? For most reading this article it is to fly for free… but for others maybe they want something different.
The one thing you need to realize is that there is NO absolutely perfect credit card for you. However there IS a series of cards for you that will bet PERFECT! The key is knowing which ones to choose. Everyone has different purchasing habits and travel goals. Maybe you want just want miles for every flight that you take on American, because you only fly American. Maybe you just want cash back to cover the costs of your flights on ANY airline as you fly them all. For us, we have both! We don’t discriminate on which bucket of bolts gets us from point A to point B.
Are you most interested in free rewards, statement credits, mileage bonuses, loyalty to brand rewards or avoiding fee? Do you want elite status because thats important to you? Do you want to maximize the system and get those early sign on bonuses and then move on to the next card? Thats what we do…. And it works!
Our goal, and the goal of many reading this article is how to fly for FREE! Like we said, we’ve flew 18 times whilst traveling around the world and didn’t pay a dime. In fact we’ve flown nearly 30 times this year and have paid roughly what most would pay for 3 flights!
We HATE having to pay to get somewhere. The trip to and from is sometimes more expensive than the trip itself, and that just doesn’t seem right! No more!!
Is this fun?
Ummm Yeah!.. It’s a freaking blast! Did you have to even ask?
Are There Other Secrets?
Heck yes there are! This is one of MANY hacks coming your way. In later articles we’ll teach you how to search for flights and save BIG, when to search, when to fly and how to hack other areas of the International aviation system! Want to stay informed... join our Facebook Group "Travel Tips Club" where we'll be giving all our secrets away by clicking HERE
Ok, so now that we have covered some of the basics, let’s get into step two… picking the right cards.
STEP 2 - WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A TRAVEL CARD
Many things to consider when choosing the right card, lets make sure you pick the right one
Bonus and Welcome Offers
Bonus and welcome offers are critical and quite possibly the most important feature of a card to pay attention to. The large introductory welcome offers are what give you the greatest initial bonuses and often one, or even TWO, free flights. We’ve even signed up for a card that gave us three!
Nearly every card will have a spending minimum that you must reach in order to obtain that welcome offer. The way it works is you have to either make one purchase or meet a spending requirement threshold within a certain time period.
Low Spending Minimum
You’ll need to meet spending minimum requirements to make the Bonuses and Welcome Offers… let’s make sure they are LOW when we get started. Moreover lets ensure that they are within what you ability is to PAY OFF every month!
We’ve seen cards that require one single purchase (like a pack of gum) and some that require as much as $50,000 in 6 months (this was a business card). Most cards have a $1000 - $3000 spending requirement in a 3 month time period. Those average cards will shell out anywhere from 50,000 - 100,000 points for this! That’s roughly up to $1000 for just putting your groceries, cellphone bill and gym membership on a card for a few months! Cycle this across multiple cards throughout the year and you will never pay to fly again… I promise (and we fly a lot)!
When you first start out you’re going to want to sign up for 10 cards because you see dollar signs…. Don’t do this!!
You don’t want to sign up for 5 cards and be tasked with hitting a spending limit that is outside of your means or over your budget. In the beginning consider those cards that have low spending minimums you know you can reach. Once you get in the habit of using these cards… then you can step up the game!
Meeting the minimum spending requirements is the KEY to unlocking the bonus rewards. If you bring on too many cards and end up spending more that you can afford… then it defeats the purpose of all the work you are doing. Again, you’re paying 4 x for that cup of Starbucks coffee form 3 years ago!
Spending Bonus by Category
Pay attention to this one, as this is where you can take it to the next level. While this part of the game gets a bit more complicated and requires you to pay attention, I promise it’s not that hard.
Credit cards offer points for every dollar spent, and many offer anywhere from 2x to as many as 10 x the points when a dollar is spent in a certain category. For example the Chase Ink business card gives you 5 x for office spending and the American Express Premier Rewards Gold gives you 3 x on airfare. Every card is different and knowing your categories will help you maximize which cards you use during your day to day.
Know what you spend your money on, and match that spend to which card you use.
If it seems too complicated to figure out where all your money is going between different cards, there is a great app called MINT that can help. This app takes all your cards and bank accounts and puts it in ONE spot. From there you can see what your spend is categorically from all your cards cumulatively. You can also set budgets for yourself (DO THIS), and monitor it all in realtime. It’s a powerful tool and best of all it’s FREE!
These tips change often, so don't forget to join our Facebook Group "Travel Tips Club" by clicking HERE.
Low Annual Fee
This one is pretty obvious ! Avoid the large annual fees if you can. Most cards though have fees. They typically range from 50-150. Those fees are usually worth it in comparison to the perk you receive, and some of the new cards waive that first year’s annual fee. We will pay the fees for a card as the 100 fee is worth it for the 1500 in perks we will receive. We have one American Airlines card that we pay the $450 a year fee because of the status it provides us, lounge access and free checked bags. Living in Charlotte NC our airport is an American Hub so this makes sense for us. The perks are WELL worth the annual fee for as much as we fly American.
I used to not pay attention to these special perks, until we started traveling more… and WOW there are some amazing ones. You want to keep an eye out for cards that offer lounge access, free checked bags, priority access, free upgrades, no foreign transaction fees for international travel, free meals, and a litany of other perks that may be in your interest wheelhouse! While it may sound trivial, boarding a plane before others is a real nice perk. Why? Well have you ever gotten on a plane and they didn’t have any more room in the overhead for your carry on bag? Of course you have! If you get onto the plane sooner, this isn’t an issue. Just the savings in free checked bags alone can add up tremendously!
Now off to the final step!
STEP 3 - GETTING STARTED - APPLYING FOR CARD
Now it’s go time people! Let’s pick your card. I’d suggest starting off easy and picking 1-3 cards. Here are the steps:
Click on picture of the card below
Access list of TOP cards and find the cards you like on the grid
Apply to gain massive rewards (only takes a minute) and NEVER pay to fly again
Join our Facebook Group "Travel Tips Club" HERE
In the grid you'll find the HOTTEST cards right now today! These cards change monthly as the new cards come and go in this crazy competitive credit card marketplace. We’ll just let these major cards brands duke it out while we sit back and enjoy the perks!
From this chart you can get a quick overview of what you should apply for first. Come back to this article monthly to what changes we’ve made as we’ll keep this up to date.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE...
Do you want to travel the world like a boss?
Book the right flights?
Learn about the best places to travel?
Learn how to score free upgrades?
Learn how to travel like a pro?
If your answer is heck yes, then JOIN our Facebook Group by clicking HERE. We love to travel and we love to help people travel. This Facebook group is intend for those who also share a love for travel and a passion for learning how to do it most effectively. Join it if you want to travel the world and experience all it has to offer.
Don’t join it if you want to sit at home and spend the best years of your life watching Netflix and eating Cheetos (not knocking Cheetos… we like Cheetos)