I’m a pretty big fan of personal finance and I love the hunt for great deals.
I’ll open a new bank account and use their debit card a number of times in the first 90 days to get a free $100 credit.
I’ll open a credit card to get a bonus $100 cash back if I spend $500 in the first 3 months.
I make 2% back on my credit card for doing nothing – spending $10,000 on normal expenses in a year yields me a free $200.
[notes of importance: I pay off my balances in full every month so that I don’t incur any interest charges. I have my cards set on auto-pay so that I don’t even have to think about the monthly payments. I only spend my credit cards on normal monthly expenses. *In 10 years, I haven’t had to use a credit card in an emergency situation, but I wouldn’t hesitate if the situation was life or death].
With that said, I’m just now beginning to look at the possibilities of credit cards with airline bonus miles.
I know, I know, some of you are probably laughing at me because you’ve had them for years.
But I’ve always used the following strategy: use credit cards that give me a good cash back bonus and then shop for the best airline deals. I always figured that this would be an approximately equal deal. And with the simplicity of it all it might just be.
But I’ve been recently turned on to skymile cards from a friend that met me in Guatemala and used his airmiles in order to get there.
I had an hour long talk with him and I want to give you the bullet points of what I learned on travel hacking.
These simple notes may easily be the difference in hundreds of dollars of savings for you.
1. Most domestic flights in the U.S. cost 25,000 miles
1a. These flights are in a zone and you can often fly to other close by countries (in Central America for example) for the same amount of mile – so plan accordingly.
2. Some credit card offers will give you 40,000-50,000 bonus miles with their credit card offers (most are only 30,000) so it pays to google search and look around.
3. United has the most generous policy overall and is the simplest to redeem your skyline miles with.
4. Most of the cards have an annual fee after the first year. If you decide you don’t want the card, you can call an cancel it prior to being charged the fee. You will be able to keep your skymiles as they are tracked in a separate independent account.
5. With United Airways you get 5,000 mile discounts when booking domestic flights.
6. Pay close attention who controls the hub at your local airport (in my case it’s Delta). You may want to use this airline’s credit card programs. Otherwise, you may have to go to neighboring airports in order to get on the flights of your choosing.
This is enough info to get you in the game.
Another great source that I’ve heard of is Chris Guillebeau’s Travel Hackers – although I must disclose that I’ve never used myself.