Flying on Credit Card Miles

Always thought exotic destinations were too pricy? One of the best ways to fly international for cheap is through airline credit card awards. Bonuses like 50,000 miles are available just for signing up and you can get a new card every 90 days. For brevity’s sake, I will just advise you to Google “credit card churning” and take heed of the great advice offered by those more learned than I. The point is that your dream trip is just a card away. The only thing you need to have is a credit score above 700. You can check your score for free, no credit card required, at creditsesame.com.

 

In 2006, I flew Delta from Tallahassee, FL to Barcelona, Spain for $40. That’s right, a flight worth at least $500 cost me less than ten percent of that and I didn’t even have to fly cargo. Flying Delta and Northwest (RIP) between college and home earned me so many miles over the years, I had more than enough to cash in 40,000 for my spring break trip. Lest you think miles require you to fly on the wing, I sat in the first row behind First Class on my longest leg between Paris and Atlanta and was treated just like a paying customer. I also earned enough miles that year to qualify as a Delta Medallion member and get automatic free upgrades to available First Class seats. Ahh, the days of yore. Well, the financial meltdown caused a lot of that to change, but what has improved are airline credit card offers.

 

How would you like to earn a free roundtrip international ticket to Europe in just one month? Let me explain how it works:

  1. Sign up for every frequent flier program out there, even if you think you’ll never fly them. If you don’t want to get lots of spam, you can even set up an email account expressly for your travel information. Also keep in mind most airlines have partnerships with other airlines around the globe so you can also use miles on foreign carriers.
  2. Wait for your credit card offers to roll in. The airlines will send you a “targeted” offer just for you, which tends to be better than what they advertise to the regular public.
  3. A quick Google search will let you know the history of good offers. Don’t take a 30,000 offer when you can get a 50,000 one. The cards will only let you get bonus miles once every few years even if you close your account. Choose your offer wisely. Generally, the cards will offer a waived membership fee the first year, and give you bonus miles after exceeding a set spending amount within a specific time period. For example, Delta Gold American Express will give you 50,000 miles, first year the $95 fee is waived if you spend $1000 in three months.
  4. Choose your offer and apply. Make sure your credit score is high enough to qualify so you don’t get “dinged” for not getting approved. If for some reason your score is good and you are not approved, contact that card’s reconsideration line where with some smooth talk, you can get that final approval.
  5. Finally, take that dream trip! The best way to spend those miles are to fly otherwise expensive trips. Don’t waste them with domestic travel from hub to hub, use them to fly to far off islands and paradises. That’s the best way to get more bang for your buck.