I travel all the time. It’s my favorite thing in the world.
But rarely do I pay for flights — that’s one of my least favorite things in the world.
How so? By using travel rewards to fly for next to nothing. Here’s a primer on the strategy in case you’re not familiar with it.
And recently, I discovered two new websites making flying for free even easier…
2 Websites That Tell You Exactly How to Earn Free Flights
First off, know this: The easiest way to earn travel rewards is through credit card signup bonuses.
Here’s how it works: After signing up for a card, you spend a certain amount of money using it — never more than you normally would, never carrying a balance — and the issuer rewards you with a bonus in the form of points or miles.
Eventually, you can redeem these for flights, plus taxes and fees.
Note: If you can’t be responsible, don’t have good enough credit or simply don’t like credit cards, here are six ways to earn frequent flyer miles without them.
Credit card signup bonuses are awesome, but they can also be kind of overwhelming.
Which card(s) will help you go on your dream trip? How long will it take?
I recently discovered two websites that take the guesswork out of it — making them fantastic resources for aspiring travel hackers.
RewardExpert is a matchmaker for travelers and credit cards. It “craft[s] a strategy using points and miles to get you where you want to go sooner than you think.”
You enter your departure city, destination and monthly spending, as well as your current miles and points balances.
Then, the site spits out all the different reward programs that could get you to your destination, plus the number of miles or points required — and time it will take you to earn them.
In exchange for your email address, RewardExpert will also reveal the exact credit cards with sign-up bonuses to help you achieve your goal.
Though SlingShot provides a similar service as RewardExpert, it doesn’t require you to have a specific trip in mind.
Instead, you answer over 20 questions about your favorite destinations, spending habits and credit — and the site creates a “custom-tailored, actionable plan” for you. While the plan is totally free, you can pay an extra $5 to get it within one business day.
Check out a sample plan here — it recommends both a destination and a path to get you there.
If you know you can be responsible with credit cards (seriously, no rewards are worth going into debt over), they’re absolutely the fastest way to accrue miles and points and start traveling for next to nothing.
And if you think the process sounds exciting, but also daunting, why not let these new companies hold your hand? (No, they didn’t pay me to say that!)
Your Turn: Have you ever used points and miles to travel for free?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.
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