10 Travel Hacking Errors to Prevent

Rows of seats in an airplane
Published: 2/23/23|February 23rd, 2023

I’m a big fan of travel hacking It’s changed my journeys and conserved me countless dollars for many years.

Travel hacking is the art of registering for travel charge card and gathering points and miles that you can money in totally free flights, flight upgrades, hotel stays, and more– all with no additional costs. Simply put, it’s a method to get more for less.

Throughout the years, I have actually taken pleasure in many totally free upgrades, totally free flights, totally free hotel stays, and other benefits– all with no additional costs. Travel hacking has actually assisted open the world to me, so I’m a big supporter for it, as I have actually seen what a distinction it’s made in my journeys.

And, while the very best cards and benefits remain in the United States, travel hacking is readily available all around the world too (Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe all have travel hacking choices nowadays).

Considering That I have actually been travel hacking for several years, I have actually talked with many individuals about playing the points-and-miles video game. I have actually likewise seen lots of newbies make many errors– errors that affect their capability to take a trip totally free (or a minimum of for inexpensive).

Here are the greatest travel hacking errors that I see individuals making so that you can prevent them, conserve your points and miles, and make your travel dollar go even more:

1. Not Beginning at All

When I ask many people why they do not take a trip hack, they simply shrug their shoulders and state, “I do not understand. Appears hard, I think.”

The greatest factor that individuals do not begin travel hacking is that they believe it’s too complex, it’s just for individuals who take a trip typically (or are huge spenders), or that it’s a rip-off

However side-stepping the points-and-miles video game completely is the greatest error you might make. It belongs to stating no to totally free cash. If you settle your charge card monthly, you’re losing if you aren’t making points and miles, which are just benefits that you get for being clever about your costs.

2. Not Having an Objective

A stunning view at a nice resort by an infinity pool overseas
Prior to you register for your very first card, the most crucial thing to do is make an objective. Think of the journey you wish to take, where you wish to remain, and how you wish to arrive. Then get the travel charge card that will assist you arrive.

Without making an objective, you’ll have no concept what card (or cards) are best for you, as each deals various advantages that will fit various way of lives, budget plans, and travel objectives.

Keep In Mind: there is no best card. There is just the best card for you

Are you thinking about commitment to a brand name, totally free benefits, or preventing charges? Do you desire totally free flights and/or hotel stays? Is elite status the most crucial perk for you?

If you simply desire indicate invest anywhere you select, get cards with transferable points (Chase, Amex, Citi, and Capital One are the primary examples of these) since you can utilize their points with a range of travel business. They each have their own benefits programs and points that can be moved to several airline companies or hotel partners or utilized to book travel straight through their own travel portal sites.

Identify your objective( s) and after that discover the cards that match it/them, in addition to your costs practices.

3. Not Getting Cards with a Yearly Cost

When it concerns selecting a travel charge card, many individuals balk at high charge card charges, which can often be numerous dollars annually. Undoubtedly the charge card business are simply taking your cash, right?

Not precisely.

While it holds true that you’ll need to choose whether cards with greater charges deserve it for you, cards with yearly charges are generally far better than no-fee cards: they provide more worth, much better benefit classifications (so you can build up points quicker), and other benefits, such as much better travel defense and access to special deals. For me, even the cards with the greatest yearly charges deserve it, as I have actually conserved more cash on travel than I have actually ever invested in charges.

However you do not need to go for the cards with the greatest yearly charges right off the bat. There are numerous “starter” cards that waive the cost the very first year, and after that are simply $95 annually. That method, you can see whether it deserves it to you.

If you actually do not wish to pay a charge however still wish to participate the video game, the Bilt Benefits card is my preferred no-fee choice. This game-changing card provides you the capability to make points by paying your lease (the only card that does this), plus 3x points on dining and 2x points on travel. It provides strong travel securities too. If you’re simply beginning (and pay lease), this is an essential card.

4. Not Fulfilling Signup Benefits

A handful of US travel credit cards

The very best travel cards provide a substantial initial deal, likewise called “welcome deals” or “sign-up rewards.” This is when you make numerous points at the same time by investing a particular quantity of cash within a particular period after opening your account (e.g., investing $3,000 in the very first 3 months may make you 60,000 points).

These welcome deals are how I make one million points each year They’re very crucial, as they jump-start your account and instantly get you closer to a totally free flight or hotel stay. In some cases these deals are even huge enough to get you a totally free flight right off the bat!

Among the greatest errors you can make is not making the most of these rewards. Once again, it resembles leaving cash on the table (I hope you’re seeing a pattern here).

With that in mind, just look for cards if you can fulfill their minimum costs requirements for the welcome benefit with your typical costs. If you are investing more cash than you generally do simply to get these points, then the points are no longer totally free. Just invest what you usually would and not a cent more.

If you discover yourself near reaching a sign-up benefit however are still failing, these are some things you can do:

  • Ask buddies or household if they have any big purchases showing up. You can then spend for the product on your card and get them to pay you back.
  • When out to consume with buddies, put whatever on one costs and pay it with your card. Then get everybody to pay you back separately.

5. Not Settling Your Credit Cards Regular Monthly

This is a main tenet not just of travel hacking however charge card usage in basic. Do never bring a balance on these cards, as the sky-high rate of interest will erase any prospective advantage you ‘d obtain from them. If you’re paying interest, the points are no longer totally free.

If you can’t settle your balance completely, you should not be travel hacking.

6. Believing That Points Have Intrinsic Worth

As soon as you begin taking a look at registering for travel charge card, it can be simple to get delighted at substantial sign-up rewards and costs classifications where you can acquire a great deal of points rapidly. Hotel charge card are well-known for this, frequently using sign-up rewards of over 100,000 points and benefit costs classifications that can be as much as 26x points per $1 invested (provided by IHG on costs for IHG residential or commercial properties).

However what is necessary to comprehend is that a person point will go even more in some programs than others. The worth of a point is not repaired. It is not the very same throughout programs. One IHG point is not the like one United point, similar to one Chase point is not the like one Hyatt point.

When designating a worth to points, the mathematics is in fact quite easy: take the money rate (what you would pay if you didn’t have points), divide by the variety of points needed, and increase by 100 to get the per-point worth in cents. I discover The Points Person’s regular monthly assessment chart to be the most precise as a convenient cheat sheet to utilize as a standard for what is thought about an excellent per-point worth.

That stated, a great deal of redemption boils down to the individual worth that you designate to those points. Would you rather redeem them for flying in very first class, or would you rather take 2 economy flights for the very same variety of points? Would you rather remain in a luxury hotel for a weekend or remain in a three-star hotel for a week?

Point worth remains in the eye of the beholder.

( Simply never ever redeem points for money. This is the least important usage of points.)

7. Not Optimizing Perk Classifications

Mentioning point worth, seeing that a flight “expenses” 30,000 points can be daunting, thanks to another typical error: believing that you need to invest $1 to get 1 point.

However excellent travel hacking is never ever about getting just one mile or point per dollar invested. It’s simple to get 2-5x (or more!) for each dollar you invest. This assists you make points far more rapidly.

For instance, I utilize Chase Sapphire Reserve when dining at dining establishments (3x points), the Chase Ink for workplace costs (5x points), and the American Express Platinum Card for air travel (5x points).

Never ever accept one point per dollar invested. Otherwise, it will take method too long to build up adequate points totally free travel.

8. Not Making The Most Of Card Advantages and Advantages

woman standing in front of departures board at Barcelona airport
Travel hacking is not practically simply getting points and miles. It’s likewise about what else features the card that can make your life and takes a trip much easier. Lots of cards provide you an unique elite commitment status or other additional benefits Do not make the error of getting a card and after that not making the most of whatever that it needs to provide.

Here are the benefits I personally focus on:

  • No foreign deal charges
  • Free hotel stays
  • Lounge gain access to
  • Totally free examined luggage
  • Concern boarding

You may have various concerns, however no matter the case, make certain to check out the advantages of your selected card( s) and in fact utilize those that include it.

9. Not Getting Transferable Points

Transferable points are those that you can move to various programs. These are at the heart of every excellent travel hacking technique.

Nevertheless, many individuals avoid utilizing them, as it appears too made complex. They may get a card with transferable points however redeem them through a travel website or select to get money back rather. Yet transferable points are how you can get remarkable worth.

You can make transferable points with charge card released by Chase, Capital One, Bilt, Citi, and American Express, though remember that these are all different “currencies.” With Chase, you make Ultimate Benefits points, while you make Subscription Benefits points with American Express.

These points are transferable not to each other however rather to their particular airline company and hotel partners, with whom you can then schedule a flight or hotel stay.

It’s typically much better to get transferable points than, state, airline-specific points (such as you ‘d get with an airline company charge card), as those can’t be moved anywhere. Delta points can just be utilized on Delta flights (or their alliance partners), and if you discover a much better flight with United, that’s regrettable– you can’t utilize your Delta indicate make the most of it.

While it may appear complex, it’s much easier than you believe– it’s practically discovering the ideal card for your requirements, moving indicate an airline company or hotel partner, and after that reserving. This procedure is much easier than ever thanks to the brand-new points-booking online search engine, point.me

( I likewise go more extensive into transferable points and how to utilize them in my Travel Hacking Guide.)

10. Hoarding Your Points

A Delta airplane climbing into a bright blue sky after takeoff in the USA
Many individuals, as soon as they generate some points, hesitate to utilize them at all. They either do not understand how to utilize them or wish to wait on the “finest possible worth.”

However points burning a hole in your virtual pocket aren’t going to assist you. The worth of points modifications all the time as charge card business, hotels, and airline companies modify their programs. Sadly, that suggests your points might lose a substantial quantity of worth over night (do not stress, this does not occur often, however it does occur).

Points are indicated to be utilized. They’re a car for getting you totally free flights and hotels so that you can go out there and see the world. Do not relax viewing your points balance climb greater and greater– usage those points, go out there, and begin taking a trip!


It’s never ever been much easier to make totally free flights, hotel stays, and other travel benefits. And while there are some typical errors to prevent and the discovering curve can appear high, as soon as you start, everything enters into focus rapidly, and you’ll be questioning why you didn’t begin quicker.

As long as you make concrete objectives, settle your costs monthly, and focus your costs on the ideal card( s), you’ll have the ability to take pleasure in time-saving benefits and totally free travel in no time– and all simply by investing the cash you would have invested anyhow!

Reserve Your Journey: Logistical Idea

Reserve Your Flight
Discover an inexpensive flight by utilizing Skyscanner It’s my preferred online search engine since it browses sites and airline companies around the world so you constantly understand no stone is being left unturned.

Reserve Your Lodging
You can schedule your hostel with Hostelworld If you wish to remain someplace aside from a hostel, usage Booking.com as it regularly returns the most inexpensive rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Do Not Forget Travel Insurance Coverage
Travel insurance coverage will secure you versus disease, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s detailed defense in case anything fails. I never ever go on a journey without it as I have actually needed to utilize it lot of times in the past. My preferred business that provide the very best service and worth are:

Wish to take a trip totally free?
Travel charge card enable you to make points that can be redeemed totally free flights and lodging. They are what keep me taking a trip a lot for so little. Take a look at my guide to selecting the ideal card and my existing favorites to start and see the most recent finest offers.

All Set to Reserve Your Journey?
Take A Look At my resource page for the very best business to utilize when you take a trip. I note all the ones I utilize when I take a trip. They are the very best in class and you can’t fail utilizing them on your journey.

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