Travel Tip: How to Fly for FREE!
One of the reasons we are able to travel so frequently is because we don’t pay for flights. Ever. And, neither should you!
We use credit card points for airline miles. There is a wealth of information online but in summary here are the steps:
- Decide where you want to go.
- Research which airlines have flights to the destination for the least amount of miles.
- Research which credit cards are offering the most lucrative sign up bonuses and promotions.
- Apply for and get approved for the credit card(s).
- Meet the minimum spending requirements.
- Receive the points!
To give you an example of how this actually works, let's use our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand.
In March 2016, I began researching flight options on how to get to Australia and New Zealand using only points. The best solution involved flying with two airlines – Southwest and Delta.
I started with the domestic travel. To get to the west coast, I booked a round trip flight with Southwest between Indianapolis and LAX (12,000 Southwest points thanks to the Companion Pass – more details later).
To get to Australia, I booked a one-way flight from LAX to Sydney using Delta points through one of their partners, Virgin Australia (90,000 Delta points). You will find that frequently the best deal on miles will be through a partner airline (which was booked on the Delta website). Next, I booked a one-way flight from Sydney to Christchurch, New Zealand on Virgin Australia, but using points from our Chase Sapphire Preferred card (20,000 Chase points).
The last booking was to get from Christchurch back to LAX, which we used our Delta points and went with Virgin Australia again (90,000 Delta points).
All in all, we used:
- 12,000 Southwest points
- 20,000 Chase Sapphire Preferred points
- 180,000 Delta points
So you’re thinking now, “Great, you didn’t spend a dime on flights, but you must have been saving up points for several years and racked up a ton of credit card debt in the process.” On the contrary!
We started the process in March 2016 and we were able to use the points on this trip within three months! First, we each got the Gold Delta Skymiles card in April that came with 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 on the card within the first 3 months. We also each got the Platinum Delta Skymiles card in May that came with 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 on the card within the first 3 months. By June we had over 180,000 Delta miles and were able to book the tickets from LAX to Sydney and Christchurch to LAX!
The single best travel reward is the Southwest Companion Pass which is what we used for the domestic flights. It deserves a post of its own, so more to come soon on how to acquire Southwest points!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred was one of our first travel credit cards. An attractive aspect of this card is that you're allowed to transfer the miles without any penalties with certain partners (including Virgin Australia). Additionally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has incentives on making purchases at certain locations (2x points on travel and restaurants and 1x points on any purchase) which helped boost our points.
Currently there are some great promotions taking place:
- Southwest Premier Card - currently offering 50,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months.
- Southwest Plus Card - currently offering 50,00 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months.
- Gold Delta Skymiles Card - currently offering 50,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months.
- Platinum Delta Skymiles Card - currently offering 70,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card - currently offering 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months.
We put everything on credit cards: the mortgage, car payments, utilities, and other normal monthly payments. For the items that cannot traditionally be paid by credit cards, we use a third party site called Plastiq which allows you to pay such bills via credit card for a nominal fee. We’re also very meticulous about what cards we use, where we use them, what we purchase, and how quickly we pay them off. It It goes without saying that this isn't for everyone. It's important to carefully monitor your credit cards and credit score! Additionally, even when traveling on points, you still frequently have to pay taxes. For the Australia/New Zealand trip, we spent about $100 in taxes.
This post barely scratches the surface of how to travel with credit card points, so if you have specific questions or are interested in learning more, let us know! We'll share other tips in future posts.
Editor’s note: We’d like to especially thank our friends, Sarah and Eric, for introducing us to this program. They got us hooked and are true masters of traveling for free! Thank you!