How to Score Free Flights

Credit Card Miles & Points

Everyday various credit card companies like American Express, Citi, and Visa offer new deals with new partners and new offers to try to get you to open a card with them. The trick to sorting through all of these options comes with lengthy comparisons, patience, and an idea of what you want your card to do for you. Do you travel consistently or are you just looking to score yourself a free round-trip flight to Paris?

Racking up enough miles to travel internationally from the United States can seem like a daunting, almost impossible task. How does one spend enough to get 70,000 miles? Well if you play your cards right, you won't have to. Timing, good credit, and spacing out your credit card applications can help you round up all of those awesome sign-up bonuses and rewards. 

Fly_02.jpg

Where to start - 

Check your credit score before applying for any credit card to make sure your odds of getting approved are good. Credit Karma is a free amazing website that provides you with a whole run down of your score and what exactly it means. Credit Karma also helps you see your approval odds for various cards.

When searching for a new card, it is important to compare their various sign-up bonuses, benefits, earning rates, and annual fees (if any). Each person may have different requirements for their desired card, so although one option may have amazing benefits, it may not be worth it for you to spend the $550 a year in fees.

My favorite travel rewards credit cards at the moment are my American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles card and my American Express Platinum Card.

I leveled up from my Gold Delta SkyMiles card to Platinum last year because for $100 more in fees ($195 per year instead of $95) you are given a domestic, main cabin companion pass annually. For me it just made more sense to pay the extra fee since I am usually always traveling with my significant other and will always be in need of two tickets.

This past month I was able to book a round trip flight to Paris with about 63,000 miles which would be completely covered if you got the special 70,000 miles sign-up bonus with the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card. This is a great overall card for someone who wants to rack up some quick sign-up bonuses and book that next international flight!

The American Express Platinum Card comes with a yearly fee of $550, but the rewards, transferrable points, Uber credits, and 5X points for flights and hotels make it worth it for someone who is frequently traveling and spending. The annual credits for incidental fees on airlines and for Uber trips effectively reduce the annual fee to $150, and the earning rates on tickets booked directly with an airline make it an ideal card for airfare purchases, especially given the value of Membership Rewards points (1.9 cents apiece).

 

Fly_03.jpg

American Express has grown to be my favorite credit card company to deal with because their service has always been incredible, staff always helpful, and I have never been charged with any unreasonable fees. There are plenty of other options out there, so finding the right card for you can take a little time and effort.

If you have great credit and know you can manage multiple credit cards without falling into debt, then combing cards, miles, and various deals can help you travel all over the world on the credit card company's dime.

Apply, Spend, & Book

After you have gone through the various options and chosen the card that seems best for your budget and travel needs, apply! Credit card companies are always changing their deals and increasing and decreasing sign-up bonuses and perks so it's hard to know when you are getting the very best deal possible. It is also important to remember that you must spend the amount stated in the terms and conditions to receive the special bonus.

Once you have all your shiny new points to use, check for flights to your dream destinations. It helps if you have a flexible departure and arrival dates and times in order to maximize the points you do have. It also helps to look at the costs from other airports or to cities nearby the place you want to visit. It takes some adjusting to be able to find the best flight possible for the least amount of points, but it is worth it! You do not always have to be stuck on a red eye with 3 layovers to get to your destination cheaply, it just takes some patience looking.

 

Fly_04.jpg

To Summarize -

  • Check your credit score (Credit Karma)
  • Compare and contrast cards by their sign-up bonuses, benefits, earning rates, and annual fees (The Points Guy helps out a lot)
  • Make sure to spend the allotted amount in time to gain your sign up bonus
  • Book your 'free' flight!
 
Fly_05.jpg

I am not sponsored by any of the mentioned credit card companies. These are all my personal recommendations and airline companies are continuously changing membership rewards and may not offer the exact amounts I stated.