Wondering how to get a free plane ticket to your next dream destination?
Before getting into this, let me be straight with you.
No flight is totally free, you always have to pay some taxes and fees.However, these costs can be very small.
Recently I booked a roundtrip ticket from Newark, New Jersey to Oslo, Norway then flying back to Denver, Colorado 3 months later all for $41.20. Pretty cheap considering how much plane tickets to Europe can go for.
Where you would go if it cost under $50? Imagine what you could do with all of that extra cash on your trip. In Norway, you could visit places like this:
Ready to go to your dream destination?
I like to keep things simple, there is way too much information out there to sift through.
This article provides suggested actions that will put you well on your way to earning a free plane ticket to your personal paradise.
How to get a free plane ticket.
The first step is quite simple…
Look into your wallet or purse and answer this question:
“Do I have a frequent flyer miles or airline miles credit card?”
If the answer is yes, when was the last time you applied for a new travel rewards credit card?
Been awhile? Last year, the answer for me was yes. It had been too long.
There are so many great cards out there so I decided to get into the game again. You can earn HUGE bonuses when you sign up which can snag you a free plane ticket quickly.
Never had a rewards card?
Don’t wait any longer because if your current credit card doesn’t do anything for you it’s most definitely time for a change!
Earning credit card bonuses is simply the fastest and best way to earn frequent flyer miles and free plane tickets quickly.
Warning: If you have credit card debt or can’t meet the minimum spend (which you’ll learn about it in a second) this isn’t for you. I’m not a tax or financial pro, just a dude who has scored a lot of cheap plane tickets through travel hacking over 15+ years and I want to share with you how it worked for me. Please consider your own personal situation.
A Word On Taking Action
This is the kind of work that is so easy to put off. Who likes sitting down and applying for credit cards? It sucks.
But if you are in a position to do this, isn’t a free plane ticket worth 30 minutes or less of your time? Bookmark this if you need to come back but if you’ve got some time, take the action today. Otherwise it will never get done.
Up for this? Before I lay out the step by step plan of attack, I’ll share the basic process on how I got my $41.20 ticket to Oslo, Norway using Chase points.
- Got Both Chase Sapphire Personal Card and Chase Ink Bold for my business
- Earned points and bonuses. Planned a trip to Norway.
- Went to United.com to looked up award tickets.
- Found the flight I wanted and notated how many miles I needed to book a free flight
- Converted Chase points into United Miles through Chase.com. (This happens instantly although that’s not the case for all points transfers, it depends on the airline, card, rules, etc.)
- After miles were added to my United account booked award ticket.
- Paid taxes and fees $41.20
- Went to Norway!
Like any subject, diving deeply into Travel Hacking increases the complexity of the subject matter.
My goal is not to overcomplicate this and just give you the essentials, stripping this down to the basics so you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Before we get into it, just pick a destination you’ve been longing to go and use that as motivation. It makes this a helluva lot more fun knowing this will get you there…eventually.
And we’re off!
Step #1 – Check and Monitor Your Credit Score
Check your credit score (it’s free) to make sure you’ve got solid credit. Also, you’ll want to monitor your credit score when you apply for cards. I use
Sign up and get your credit score. It’s the responsible thing to do (sorry for sounding like a Dad!).
Will applying for new cards affect your credit score negatively?
From my research the answer is yes, but not as badly as you think and it’s pretty short term. As long as you continue to carry zero debt and pay on time it should bounce back quickly and maybe even increase. The credit card gods haven’t thrown me under the double decker bus yet.
Last year I got three new Travel Rewards Cards and here is my current credit score:
The US Federal Trade Commission has this article on credit scores to learn more about how they are calculated.
Step #2 – Find the Best Travel Rewards Card For You
Overall, here is what I look for in a travel rewards card
- Are the rewards points flexible meaning can you transfer them to various airlines?
I don’t like to be tied to one airline.
- Are there foreign transaction fees?
I like to be able to use my card when traveling outside of the USA without extra fees.
- What is the minimum spend?
In order to get the bonus for some cards you must be able to meet the minimum spend. For example, you must spend $1000 within the first 3 months of activating the card.
If you can’t meet the minimum spend then absolutely DO NOT apply for any credit card or you won’t get the points. When the minimum spend is a challenge look for cards that award you the points bonus on your first purchase or cards the have a low minimum spend.
There are some tricks to meeting the minimum spend without actually spending extra money. Here are 13 Ways You Can Meet the Minimum Spend.
- What is the annual fee for the card?
Many cards have an annual fee but it’s usually waived the first year so you could redeem your points and cancel the card before the year is up to avoid the fee. Even with the fee, some cards are worth holding onto. I swear by my Chase Cards. You’ll learn why in a second.
Step #3 – Apply for a Trave Rewards Credit Card
Own a business or a sole proprietorship, which means that you are your own business? Anybody in the USA can easily have a sole proprietorship, learn how to start one.
If you can get both the business and personal version you double up on your points. Make sure you can handle the minimum spend on both.
My favorite travel rewards cards for a variety of scenarios are located at the end of this article.
Step #4 – Meet the Minimum Spend and Get Your Bonus Points
There are many ways to meet the minimum spend without spending any more than you usually do. Here are 13 ways to meet the minimum spend for travel rewards credit cards.
Step #5 – Find the Flight You Want and How Many Miles You’ll Need To Book It.
*I should mention that you can also simply call your credit card rewards program and have them book a ticket with points for you. Often you’ll get a better deal if you transfer the points to an airline instead of using the points through your credit cards travel agency. That being said, I’ve booked a flight to Norway this way in the past and still only paid around $200.
Step #6- Call the airline. Ask them…
- How long it takes to transfer the miles to the airline you want to fly
- If you can hold the flight until your miles transfer
- What the taxes and fees are on a ‘free ticket’. British Airways charges a ridiculous amount, for example, so you’ll want to avoid using them.
Step #7 – Transfer Miles and Book Your Ticket!
That’s the basic process. Redeeming points is a bit of an art and a whole other subject. Start earning points today and learn how best to redeem them along the way.
No, you may be curious which cards I use?
Here’s what’s currently in my money belt…
Cards I actively Use
Chase Sapphire Preferred – The Best Personal Card and the one I used to book the recent Norway flight.
- Upside – Flexible Points. Large Bonus of 40,000 points. No annual fee the 1st year.
- Downside – Minimum Spend ($3000 in 3 months), Annual fee $95 after first year
Chase Sapphire Ink Bold – The Best Business Card
- Upside – Flexible Points. Large Bonus of 50,000 points. No annual fee the 1st year.
- Downside – Larger Minimum Spend ($5000 in 3 months), Annual fee $95 after first year
Getting both of these cards at the same time would mean 90,000 Chase rewards points, easily enough for a free plane ticket to many places all over the world.
Card I currently Have But Will Cancel Before the Annual Fee
American Express Gold Business
- Upside – Flexible Points. Bonus of 25,000 points. No annual fee the 1st year.
- Downside – Minimum Spend ($5000 in 6 months), Annual fee $175 after first year
Cards I’m getting Next
The reason why I got this card is because I could combine my points with my existing AMEX point on the Blue Card which is great for storing points (no annual fee) but does not offer a bonus on sign up.
The next cards on my hit list due to their insanely vast airline transfer partner network
- Upside – Can Earn 25,000 bonus points which would be 50K if you get the personal and business card. 10,000 Points After First Purchase (even if only $1 is spent). Bonus 5,000 airline miles when you transfer 20,000 points for a 1 : 1.5 transfer ratio which is rare. No annual fee the 1st year. Can also use points for free Starwood Hotels which are very nice.
- Downside – $5000 minimum spend in 6 months. Annual Fee after first year is $65. Both not too bad!
That’s about it. Again, we are shooting for surface level information here. Just enough to be dangerous and get you a free ticket without millions of options.
Feel free to contact me with any questions, I’d be happy to help you maximize your points when you plan your trip!
Got anything to add? Feel free to comment below.