Living in Hawaii, every country and state is far from reach. Being that places are thousands of miles away, it means traveling out of Hawaii can be quite expensive. This is one of the reasons why many people won’t travel too far from Hawaii. Travel hacking definitely changes the game plan.
A few years ago, I surprised Reid with a trip to California to watch a Clippers game. It was our first time flying for free! If I paid for the airfare, it would’ve cost us over $1,000.
I am by no means an expert when it comes to travel hacking but I’ve managed to rack up over 70,000 Delta Air Lines miles, 50,000+ Hawaiian Airlines miles, 75,000+ Hilton Honors Points, and over $1,500 of statement credits for travel. Reid also managed to receive his own 50,000+ Hawaiian Airlines miles bonus from travel hacking!
Just a little breakdown on how we used our miles and points:
70,000+ Delta Air Lines miles – two free flights to California.
100,000+ Hawaiian Airlines miles (since we both signed up) – two free flights to Australia.
75,000+ Hilton Honors Points – we could use it for two weeks of free accommodation at a Hilton Resort in Cairo, Egypt. (which we haven’t used yet! future travel plan perhaps?)
That, my friend, is the reason why you should start saving travel points and miles. The payoff is well worth it if applied correctly…AMAZING BENEFITS!
Ever since travel blogging became part of our life, I found myself reading for hours about travel hacking (getting reasonable to free flights, free accommodation stays at hotels, etc.) Thanks to sites like TripHackr and ThePointsGuy for always expanding my knowledge!
There are numerous ways to do travel hacking but the way I accumulated these travel miles and points are simply signing up for credit cards. Reid and I are pretty good with credit cards (debt free) and pay off the bills in full every month. We’ve never paid interest or had any late fees which helps maintain a decent credit score.
With that being said, here is a quick guide to your travel hacking journey:
1.Sign-up for a Credit Card
Not just any credit card. Choose which is the right one for you. There are multiple credit cards that offer airline miles, hotel rewards, and cash back options.
Airline Miles – If you’re looking for free flights, search to find if your favorite airlines offer any credit cards and sign up bonuses.
Hotel Rewards – Looking for free hotel stays? Sign up for a credit card that you can get points to stay at partner hotels.
Cash Back – Not sure if you want an airline miles or hotel points? Simply sign up for a credit card that gives cash back. This way, you can get cash back to use any way you desire.
2. Have a Limit
Don’t sign up for every credit card offer that you see. Limit yourself to 1-3 cards. For me, 3 credit cards is pushing it. I currently only have 2 which is my Delta Airlines and Hilton Honors Credit Card. I closed my Hawaiian Airlines. The reason for that is because I find myself flying with Delta Airlines more since it flies to many more places than Hawaiian Airlines. Reid sticks with one card (Hawaiian Miles).
The Myth – “Having many credit cards will damage your credit score!” Contrary to popular belief, this is untrue. Be reasonable and smart with applying for credit cards…space them out. DO NOT apply for multiple cards in one go…this can damage your score due to different companies inquiring about your score and history. Once you’ve compiled a few cards, be sure to pay them off, in full, every statement period! Never max out your card and never close a card you don’t use, prematurely. Wait a few years before closing out cards; just be sure not to use the card you want to close. Finally, do not panic if you start the process of obtaining new cards and see that your credit score has changed for the worse. As long as you are paying the balanced owed off in a timely matter, your score will even out (to where it was before or even higher).
– Don’t apply for multiple cards at once, space them out.
– Pay off your cards in full, every statement! (NOT just the minimum)
– Don’t panic if your score changed immediately after applying for a new card. It will even out.
3. Track Your Spending
When signing up for credit cards, you’ll need to spend certain amount to get those bonuses…Of course, every credit card also has a limit on how much you can spend. Make sure to track your spending and do not go over your limit or you will get charged interest.
4. Pay Monthly
As mentioned in point 2, pay off your credit cards in full (monthly) and refrain from getting charged interest. It’s extremely important to do so which is why this deserves its own spot. Interest payments is extra money being paid to the company. Instead, you can be saving that for your travel spending! Sacrifice to pay off your debt now to be able to use the money saved from would be interest payments.
5. Stay Organized
Most credit cards have annual fees; write those down in your calendar to remind you when it will be charged on your card (so you don’t go over your limit). Annual fees aren’t that detrimental in pay but if you are on a strict budget, it is good to know when you will be charged. On top of this, keeping track of every payment and transaction out is key in maintaining a balanced bank account as well as building up those rewards!
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to travel hacking. Now, go and become a big money saver!