Who doesn't want to fly for free using credit cards? Over the past 20 years, my wife and I have flown on over 50 flights for free using credit card miles. At an average roundtrip flight of $500, that's $25,000 in value per person!
I currently use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card for most of my personal travel expenses given I've been a Chase banking customer for over 10 years. New customers earn $200 cash back after spending just $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
But the other great airlines card is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card is specifically customized for travelers. You earn a 100,000-mile bonus when you spend $20,000 within the first 12 months of membership. Or, earn 50,000 miles (equals $500 travel rewards) if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months. You also earn 2X miles on every purchase.
Flying for free using credit card miles is one of the best ways to save money while also seeing the world. We've flown to 60 countries so far and plan to hit at least 80 before it's all said and done.
Here are my tips for how you can fly for free using credit cards.
How To Fly For Free Using Credit Cards
Summary: In order to fly for free with credit cards, you should research the best airline rewards credit cards, concentrate your spending with one or two cards at most, sign up to be a multi-product customer, and shop for the best travel deals with your rewards points.
1. The Best Airline Credit Cards
The best airline credit cards provide the best rewards multiples for everyday purchases and the best deals when redeeming your rewards for travel points.
If you like a particular airline, the easiest thing you can do is open up a credit card that has co-branding with your particular favorite airline.
Every major airline usually offers a rewards credit card that comes with perks like membership, upgraded seats, and VIP lounges for layovers.
The other strategy is to get a credit card that specializes in travel. Here are my three favorite ones.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
This popular travel rewards card offers flexible 2X miles rewards on every purchase. I’ve partnered with Capital One on several occasions and have always been pleased with their product offerings and customer service. It's one of the best choices to fly for free using credit cards.
- Earn a 100,000-mile bonus when you spend $20,000 within the first 12 months of membership. Or, earn 50,000 miles (equals $500 travel rewards) if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
- Earn unlimited 2X miles fast on every purchase you make
- Transfer miles to any of Venture's 10+ travel partners
- No foreign transaction fees
- No limit on how many miles you can earn
- Rewards don’t expire for the life of the account
- Get up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pres✔®
- Built-in coverage and purchase protections
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
I’ve been a happy Capital One customer and have partnered with them on several occasions. The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card is one of my favorite travel rewards credit cards.
- Enjoy $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
- Receive a bonus of 20,000 miles</a> after you spend $500 on purchases within three months of opening an account. The 20,000 miles equals $200 in travel rewards, which is like getting 40% cash back.
- Get unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase you make, every single day.
- Utilize the flexibility of transferring rewards miles to over 10 leading travel loyalty programs.
- Travel when you want where you want. No blackout dates, fly any airline, stay at any hotel, whenever you want.
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. This is a great introductory period for those of you who plan to make big purchases and want some extra time to pay them off.
- Earn unlimited miles that won't expire as long as you are an active cardholder.
- Enjoy great travel protection, including travel accidental insurance, rental car coverage, and extended warranty on eligible items.
2. Search For Credit Cards That Offer Big Welcome Bonuses
Opening up new credit cards to take advantage of sign up bonuses is the easiest way to get free money.
For example, I recently opened up a Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card to get 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months (that’s $1,250 in redemption value in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Not only am I going to get a free $1,250 worth of travel, I'm can write off my travel as a business expense and save another ~25%!
You don't even need an Employee ID Number (EIN) to get a business rewards credit card. All you need to do is have a Social Security Number and be a sole proprietor doing some freelance work.
3. Concentrate Your Spending On Your Travel Credit Card
The reason why I have the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit cards is because I'm concentrating all my spending to get points for the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. I also get points for having a checking account and savings account with them as well.
When you’re trying to earn enough points to get a free flight with a credit card, you want to pay for as many purchases as possible with your credit card that your points will accrue quickly.
I recommend concentrating your spending on two credit cards with the same company. I so happen to concentrate with Chase credit cards. But I also recommend exploring Capital One credit cards. They are credit card specialists and have some of the best cards and rewards as well.
My favorites are the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card with unlimited 1.5% cash back and $0 annual fee.
Find a card that rewards you for everyday spending, and switch all of your auto-pays to be paid with this card. Calculate the total of your monthly bills and pay them fully every month before or on the due date to avoid financing charges.
4. Fly To Your Favorite Destinations
Nothing feels better than flying to your favorite destination for free. Our absolute favorite place to go is Hawaii, given that's where half my family is from. The pace of living is great, the weather is wonderful, the food is great, and the people are lovely.
We've been going back to Hawaii 1-2 times a year since 1999. And we always use our rewards miles.
5. Strategically Redeem Your Credit Card Points For Travel
Just like shopping, there are times when your points go farther than others. Always try to redeem your points when there is some sort of special.
For example, it might only cost you 35,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket to Hawaii during the Spring and Fall months versus 55,000 miles during the summer and winter months.
The more flexibility you have to travel, the better bargains you will tend to find.
Also be on the lookout for less-than-obvious ways to redeem your credit card points for free flights such as companion passes.
6. Book Travel Directly Through Your Credit Card
Take advantage of great airlines cards like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards credit card. There's $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
And you can receive a bonus of 20,000 miles after you spend $500 on purchases within three months of opening an account. The 20,000 miles equals $200 in travel rewards, which is like getting 40% cash back.
Get unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase you make, every single day. In addition, you can utilize the flexibility of transferring rewards miles to over 10 leading travel loyalty programs.
Book directly through your credit card and travel when you want where you want. No blackout dates, fly any airline, stay at any hotel, whenever you want. You can also earn unlimited miles that won't expire as long as you are an active cardholder.
Fly For Free With Credit Cards
Flying for free with credit cards is the best. When you use your credit card, you're spending money you would have spent anyway. But to be able to rack up points simultaneously to then fly to your favorite destination for free is just awesome!
Start with one or two credit cards and concentrate your spending on those cards for more points. Then consider being a banking client with the issuer, if your card offers banking services to get even more points.
I've currently got 342,542 Chase rewards points equivalent to $3,425.42 in cash back. I could use these points for cash back, or I can go shopping for airlines deals that might be worth $5,000+ in value! Now do you see why I like using Chase rewards credit cards?
Fly For Free Using Credit Cards
Never pay for a flight again if you can focus on my tips in this post. Fly for free using credit cards! I've spent 20 years flying for free and dozens of hours researching the best domestic and international travel rewards credit cards.
Happy travels! And remember to always pay your credit card off in full each month. You never want to pay a financing charge, unless the card has a 0% APR introductory offer and you need some time.
Pay Off Your Debt Faster
If you don’t have enough cash, getting a personal loan from Credible is a good place to start.
Personal loan rates have come down significantly in comparison to the average credit card interest rate. Thus, if you have expensive credit card debt, consider consolidating your debt into a lower interest-rate personal loan.
For further suggestions on saving money and growing wealth, check out my Top Financial Products page.
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About the Author:
Sam worked in investment banking for 13 years at GS and CS. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income. He spends most of his time playing tennis and taking care of his family.
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