The answer - POINTS!
I love points. I love collecting them and I love using them for free travel even more, I mean who doesn’t love free travel! Over the years I have learned some helpful tricks to collect points faster and while I always share this information with my friends and family, I never thought to write a blog post about it so here I am!
More points means more opportunity to travel cheaper and more frequently!!! If you apply these simple tips you will be shocked at how much quicker and cheaper you are able to achieve your travel goals! My little motto I preach upon all my friends and family is “dont spend a dollar without earnings points from it” so here goes….
Get a Good Travel Credit Card
Get a travel rewards credit card that suits your spending habits. For example, if you dine out a lot or entertain for work on your personal credit card, get a card that rewards you for spending at restaurants and so on.
Travel cards often come with their own booking platforms, which also then reward you even further when you book travel through their platforms. Always compare prices regardless but book as much through their customized booking platform as possible to maximize your credit card points earnings as these points can be used for multiple purposes.
Always pay with Credit Card
You heard me correctly, I know this goes against a lot of what we are taught (avoid debt and only buy what you can afford) BUT paying for everything on credit card, and I mean everything, all of life’s expenses including that pack of gum will help you reach your travel goals so much faster! Just ensure you are responsible and pay your bill off at the end of every month!
Also, think about ways to increase spending on your card, strategically. What I mean here is offer to pay the group bill and have everyone transfer you money, link your PayPal account to your cc not bank account, avoid a corporate card and use your personal one, if you have (reliable) roommates, put all the bills on your cc and have them reimburse you. Be creative and…...
This is somewhat of a multi layered one.
Firstly, never fly with an airline without being a member of its loyalty program. Loyalty program memberships are free, so why not join every one necessary and earn points when you fly because points mean free travel!
Being loyal to an airline definitely pays off as your points will accumulate into one account faster. Loyalty is much easier these days given the airline alliances, Star Alliance, One World and Skyteam. These alliances allow you earn points when you fly on any of their airlines and all your points will accumulate in your “home” airline account. For example, my “home” airline is Air Canada, but I travel on Lufthansa often as they provide access to way more European destinations. When I fly Lufthansa I use my Air Canada loyalty number and collect points in my Air Canada Aeroplan account. Easy peasy!
Secondly, not only does loyalty pay off in free travel, if you fly a lot with one airline and manage to gain status the perks are invaluable, like free extra and overweight baggage, priority airport access, frequent upgrades, lounge access which means - FREE FOOD AND BOOZE - and I think anything I mention now will just fall on deaf ears, but you get the point!
The third part here is to maximize your points earnings from your airline loyalty membership perks. Booking other travel arrangements like hotels and cars through the loyalty programs website is usually rewarded with substantial points, but just make sure there isn’t a much cheaper deal elsewhere.
This third point leads into my next tip, which deserves a category all on its own…...
Always Online Shop
Most airline loyalty programs allow you to earn points for shopping online with their retail partners. So, when you need to buy something, anything, don’t go directly to the retailer’s website, go through the loyalty program’s website and collect points for all the things you would buy anyways! Even retailers like Amazon have these partnerships so you can get a sense of how quickly your points can add up using this strategy, it has seriously been a game changer for me!
Also, sign up for emails so you get notifications on when specials occur as usually they have bonus point earnings around holidays and other occasions so you can really see your points balance grow exponentially. I shamelessly now do all my Christmas shopping on Amazon…..
Don’t Fly on Points
Stick with me here, as this one needs some explaining. When you book flights using points on some airlines the points only cover the airfare, not the tax, which in some cases can be a substantial amount of money. I caveat this by making it clear that some airline’s programs are much better and do allow for this. Regardless of this, the key thing to remember is that when you fly on points, not only are your seats are more restrictive but you DO NOT earn points!
My little travel hack for this makes me grin from ear to ear so read carefully...Many loyalty programs allow you to purchase gift cards from the airline for around the same point to dollar conversion ratio. You can then use the gift card to purchase a flight or cover some of the cost and …..drumroll please….. earn points when essentially traveling on points - get it - GENIUS!!!.
So glad my three business finance degrees are finally paying off...
I would love to hear your questions and comments on my advice above. And if you have any tips of your own to share send them on through!!