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How to Travel for Free With Travel Rewards Cards

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Did you know you one single card can get a free vacation? Learning how to travel for free with travel rewards cards has been an obsession of mine since 1994. One vacation was all it took.

Jeff and I spent two weeks in the South Pacific. We spent a week with friends in Brisbane and the Gold Coast of Australia. And the last week in Huahine, Tahiti. When we came back, I had earned thousands of American Airlines miles.

It was that moment I realized this was a game. And being the competitive person I am, I was all in.

Thanks to travel rewards cards, we’ve traveled to some incredible places. From Hawaii to Hong Kong and everywhere in between.

Using travel rewards is easy.

Which is a good thing. Because math and me, we’re like oil and water. We don’t mix.

Here’s how you can vacation without having to pinch pennies or scrimp and save.

How to Travel for Free With Travel Rewards Cards

How to travel for free with travel rewards cards | travel hacking | Traveling Well For Less | Photo Credit: Pixabay

Travel the world for free using travel rewards cards
Photo credit: Pixabay

Think of travel rewards as Blue Chip Stamps, Starbucks Rewards, or punches on a store loyalty card.

You earn points when you use a travel rewards card. Then you can use those points to pay for your travel expenses. We’ve used travel rewards points on airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, tours, and activities.

Free Airline Tickets

Get free airline tickets including First Class on Cathay Pacific by using travel rewards points. | How to travel for free | Traveling Well For Less |

A $25,000 First Class seat on Cathay Pacific for 67,500 miles and $5.60.

Who doesn’t want to fly for free?

Airline tickets can be super expensive. Good thing you can use travel rewards points to pay for your flights!

Guess what! You don’t have to fly to earn airline miles. Yep, you read that right.

You can earn frequent flyer miles without flying.

All it takes to earn free flights is less than 5 minutes of your time. You could earn up to 200,000 points by signing up for a single credit card. It’s that simple.

So 5 minutes in your pajamas and you could be jetting off to Hawaii, Europe, or anywhere your heart desires.

Once the card arrives, meet the minimum spending requirements to get the signup bonus, and then turn those points into free flights. Here are 7 unusual ways to meet minimum spending requirements.

Some of my favorite cards for earning airline miles:

Check out the latest travel rewards credit card offers.

And you don’t have to ride in coach. You can fly in First Class or Business Class. Not that there’s anything wrong with flying economy.

Because of points, my First Class flight on Lufthansa from Los Angeles to Frankfurt only cost $40. And our First Class flight from Honolulu to Sydney was only $63.

Be sure to read my post, 7 easy ways to earn frequent flyer miles without flying for more tips on earning airline miles.

Pro-tip: If you and your partner both signup for a new credit card, you can get double the points.

Free Hotel Rooms

Use travel rewards points for free rooms at hotels like the Saatchi Suite, Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill | how to travel for free using travel rewards points | Traveling Well For Less | travel hacking

Use hotel points for free rooms at hotels like the Saatchi Suite, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

Even if you never fly, you’ll want to earn travel rewards points. Because you can use points to pay for hotel rooms. You can turn those family vacations into freecations.

Say goodbye to sleeping in your car and climb into a comfy hotel bed. Instead of shelling out big bucks to stay at a hotel, you can pay with points and stay for free.

I’ve used travel rewards points to stay for free at hotels that cost over $1,000 a night:

  • Park Hyatt Paris Vendome
  • The May Fair
  • Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
  • Park Hyatt Sydney
  • Hilton Sydney
  • Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
  • The Westin Palace Madrid
  • Park Hyatt Mallorca

One of the best things about hotels is that there are all types of hotels. So you don’t have to use points on super fancy and expensive hotels.

You can use travel rewards points on budget-friendly and moderate priced hotels.

And I’ve also used points to stay at hotels like:

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai
  • Hyatt Place Las Vegas
  • Embassy Suites San Luis Obispo
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Alana – Waikiki Beach

My favorite cards to earn free hotel stays:

Check out the latest hotel credit card offers.

Pro-tip: But before you use your points, be sure to read my post, What You Need to Know Before You Redeem Points for Hotel Stays.

Related posts on using points for hotel stays:

Free Rental Cars

Get a rental car for free by using travel rewards points. | how to travel for free using travel rewards points | Traveling Well For Less | travel hacking

Use points to pay for rental cars
Photo credit: Pixabay

Instead of putting miles on your car during road trips, rent a car for free using travel rewards points.

You can redeem points to pay for car rentals. So save the wear and tear on your car and pile the family into the rental and head off to grandma’s or the Grand Canyon.

Check out the latest travel rewards credit card offers.

Free Tours and Activities

Use travel rewards points to pay for tours and activities like snorkeling | how to travel for free with travel rewards points | travel hacking | Traveling Well For Less

Thanks to travel rewards points, you won’t have to search for buried treasure to pay for your snorkeling.
Photo credit: Pixabay

Tours and activities can add up, especially when you’re traveling with your family. By using the right rewards point credit card, you can pay for those trips with points.

So go ahead and take that helicopter tour over Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska. Or surfing lesson in Laguna Beach.

Check out the latest travel rewards credit card offers.

By now you’re thinking, “Holy cow. I can travel for free.” Yep, you sure can. That’s how my family and I’ve have been traveling since 1994. What are you waiting for?

Conclusion

Do you know how to travel for free using travel rewards points? You can take your family on amazing vacations without spending a dime.

Three words: travel rewards points.

Stop using your tax return or putting away money every month to pay for your vacation. Use travel rewards points from credit card signup offers. One credit card signup bonus offer can get you up to 80,000 points.

You can redeem those points for free airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, tours, and activities.

Check out the travel rewards credit card offers.

Where have you traveled for free using travel rewards points? If you haven’t used points yet, where would you go?

How to Use Rewards Points for Cheap Travel

Read these posts on how you can use travel rewards points to travel for cheap.

How to Travel for Free

Still, need convincing? Check out these blog posts on how to travel for free.

Pin this to your travel, travel tips, vacation, or travel hacking boards:

Traveling doesn't have to be expensive. Here's how to travel for free with travel rewards points. | travel hacking | travel tips | Traveling Well For Less | Photo credit: Pixabay

Traveling doesn't have to be expensive. Here's how to travel for free with travel rewards points. | travel hacking | travel tips | Traveling Well For Less | Photo credit: Pixabay

Traveling doesn't have to be expensive. Here's how to travel for free with travel rewards points. | travel hacking | travel tips | Traveling Well For Less | Photo credit: Pixabay
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Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5X points on travel when booked through the Chase portal (2X if direct purchase), 3X points on dining , $50 yearly credit on hotels booked through the Chase portal, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
 


Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months.
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back at grocery stores the first 12 months (up to $12k), unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use your points to travel for free.
 
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Sue Slaght

Thursday 10th of May 2018

I definitely need to get more serious about using tips like this Debra. Since we live in Canada do all of these still apply? I've pinned your post to use as a reference for future. A ton of great information.

Medha

Wednesday 27th of December 2017

How lucky that you’ve done so much research and found these amazing reward cards. Although the hotel loyalty schemes are global, the credit cards you’ve mentioned here, I don’t think they provide the same incenstives everywhere. I’ve checked with all the credit card companies here in Dubai and none of them seem to have the facility to convert your purchases into points that can be redeemers for flight, unfortunately :( It’s hard to find travel friendly reward schemes here. Lucky you, you seem to have made the most of it!

Tamara Elliott

Wednesday 27th of December 2017

First class flights for $40?! Amazing! Such a great use of those loyalty points.

Jennifer Melroy

Tuesday 26th of December 2017

It drives me nuts when people say reward points are free travel. They really aren't. To get those points, you have to spend money. It might be money you were going to spend anyway but you still have to spend. Many card sign up bonus can require spending up to 4k in a couple of months on your credit card which for a lot of people can be hard. I have a high spend rate from my job so I have run upwards of 60k thru my credit cards this year but that isn't my money I spent. Plus add in yearly fees and you need to make sure you are earning more points that you are spending in fees.

Lois Alter Mark

Tuesday 26th of December 2017

When it comes to budgeting and money management, travel rewards cards are a total game changer. I have been able to create so many incredible memories thanks to the ease of these cards that I don't see myself ever getting tired of using them. Still trying to get my daughter to hop on the bandwagon- this post will definitely help!

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