Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
What is travel hacking? Put simply, it is the art of traveling for less. We collect frequent flyer miles/hotel points to essentially wipe out or significantly reduce the costs of traveling.
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1. Southwest Companion Pass
If you live near a city where Southwest Airlines flies, this can definitely lead to HUGE savings.
The Southwest Companion Pass is basically a ‘buy one get one free’ for you and your “companion”, who can be a partner, child, parent, friend, whoever! Once you earn the pass, you can utilize this benefit for the remainder of the year you are in, AND the ENTIRE following year! If you plan it right, you could have the pass for almost TWO full years! This is HUGE and a primary strategy of how Dave & I travel so often.
There are a few options to earn the companion pass reward. One strategy is flying 100 qualifying one-way flights in a single calendar year. The second way is to earn 125,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. The easiest way to earn this, (and how we got it), is to open 2 Southwest credit cards. One has to be a business and one has to be a personal card. You can read more details of HOW to earn this here. You can also check out our FAQ on earning the Southwest Companion Pass.
Dave and I were able to utilize the Southwest Companion Pass Points and flew for free for over a year to Jamaica, San Francisco, Costa Rica, Boston, Florida, and Charleston on these points! As long as you plan it right, the points can last a long time!
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2. Re-Positioning Flights
Re-positioning a flight is basically flying to an airport on one airline, then flying to your destination on another. For Example, we wanted to go to San Francisco for Thanksgiving. Flights home were around $800 each, but after some research, I found that if we flew Southwest to Chicago, and changed airports, we could fly for a lot cheaper. The cost each was only about $200, instead of $1,600! We saved about $1,200!
We’ve also flown from Buffalo to JFK on JetBlue and then booked our international flights to Thailand separately using Chase UR Points. Using re-positioning saves a lot of money. Our flights to Thailand were about $1,000 each from JFK instead of almost $2,000 each from Buffalo. Flights on Jetblue would have been about $150 each, but we used points so that was again almost $1,700 Saved. So instead of paying $4,300, we paid about $22.40 since we used points and only paid taxes.
3. Maximize Credit Card Opening Bonus Offers
Travel hacking usually involves opening credit cards for their Welcome Offers. There is an art to this though as all banks have different rules on what you can apply for and what you will be approved for in varying periods of time. Typically you can get between 30,000-100,000 points for airlines, hotels, and portal points (like Chase Ultimate Reward Points), in which you can book flights, hotels, car rentals, and redeem for cash. Most people believe that this could lower your credit score by opening many credit cards, however, it actually does the opposite. Our scores have gone up as we are increasing our available credit and on-time payments.
We learned about travel hacking at the end of 2016, and since then have been on a ton of trips that has changed our perspective on traveling and affordability. In 2017 we went to Costa Rica, Thailand, San Francisco, Jamaica, Nashville, and Fort Lauderdale. 2018 we have gone to Hawaii, Iceland, Finland, Greece, Egypt, and are heading to Dominican Republic, Mexico and anywhere else we can squeeze in on long weekends!
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4. Utilize Credit Cards for access to Airport Lounges
This is one of my favorites 🙂 Airport Lounges provide you with free food and drinks (even alcohol)! Many of them have showers, a nice area to hang out in, and include free WiFi!! We have started many vacations with free breakfasts at these lounges along with snacks/food which has saved us money to spend at our destination.
5. Travel Insurance
If you travel at all, this is something a lot of credit cards offer for free, as long as you book a portion of the trip on the card. (I say a portion because often we book with points but will charge $15 to the card to have it be booked with that.) We have had flights rerouted to different cities, and even had to rent a car and drive home once as our flight wouldn’t get us in until the next day and we both had to work the next day, so driving it was! The card covers our accommodation, food, and taxis/car rentals. We have saved hundreds from having this perk!
Now that you’ve got our 5 Travel Hacking Strategies, be sure to check out:
Our goals are to help you along the way! We would love to hear about where you would like to go on your next trip, and when, and we can help you get trips for an extreme discount!
Till next time,
Lisa & Dave
Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.