Travel Secrets

Travel Hacking Like A Pro

By Art Robinson, Contributing Editor

Everyone wants to save money when they travel, and there’s no better resource for cheap travel info than travel hacking tips.

A 60-Second Guide to Travel Hacking

I’m flying over Louisiana as I write this. After a weekend visiting family, my wife and I are heading home to Northern Virginia. Earlier this month I journeyed to Omaha to attend the Berkshire Hathaway meeting with our son. Two weeks from now it’s off to Minnesota for a week of fishing with a friend.

We have travelled enough this year to give Gulliver a run for his money.

Our travels have introduced me to a new concept–travel hacking.

The term describes ways frequent travelers save loads of money. It’s more than finding a “deal” online. It’s discovering a magical world of free travel, upgrades, and elite status. Saving a few bucks on your next vacation is as magical as I Dream of Jeannie. Travel hacking takes us to Hogwarts with Harry Potter on a Nimbus 2000.

In this 60-second guide, I’ll share 10 tips I’ve learned thus far.

The beauty of saving money when you travel is that the money you save can be put aside for future trips and, if you travel enough, can add up very quickly! Remember that these tips aren’t just useful for vacation travel, either – anyone who travels for work knows how important it is to save money wherever you can!

1. Sign up for airlines credit cards

Frequent flyer miles are the lifeblood of travel hacking. There is an art and science to both earning and redeeming miles. Airline rewards credit cards are the starting point. Every major airline offers a branded credit card. These cards typically come with several perks. They offer bonus miles for new card members; free checked bags, with some limitations; priority boarding; and a shortcut to elite status.

Most cards offer enough bonus miles for at least one free rewards ticket. Examples include the United MileagePlus Explorer card (up to 30,000 bonus miles), Citi AAdvantage World MasterCard MA -1.03% (up to 50,000 bonus miles), Delta’s SkyMiles credit card (up to 30,000 bonus miles), and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card (up to 50,000 bonus points).

You can find a list of airlines cards at

2. Earn miles in unexpected ways

Beyond the bonus miles, you can earn additional miles from using an airline credit card. In addition to everyday purchases, airlines offer special promotions when their card is used at certain retailers. One site,, tracks these promotions.

You can search by retailer to find the airline credit card that offers the richest rewards for the purchase you intend to make.

When it comes to saving money, often your biggest asset is your research and creativity. Try to think of unusual ways to earn miles and when you sign up for a new card or program, be sure to always read the fine print and know the best, most efficient way to use their system. Sometimes you’ll get the most benefit from using the card at a certain time, place, or on a certain product. Just always know the rules so you can get the highest rewards.

3. Sign up for generic travel cards

Travel hackers also carry generic travel rewards cards. These cards enable you to redeem points or miles to pay for travel. The key is to find cards that offer 2% or more on purchases when redeemed for travel.

Two such cards are the Capital One Venture card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. The Barclaycard can generate up to 2.2% on every purchase when rewards are redeemed for travel. Like airline miles cards, these travel cards also offer various signup bonuses that can be worth as much as $400 or more.

Read more here:

A 60-Second Guide to Travel Hacking

What are your best travel tips? What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten when “hacking” your travel?

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