Outside, tulips are blooming, blue jays are singing and the air seems ripe with promise. Inside, your kids are screaming, the bills are piling up and your boss and coworkers have your phone ringing off the hook. Yes, cabin fever is hitting hard, but unfortunately, you’re stuck reviewing your credit card statements and staring wistfully out the window. But don’t let those statements fool you – a tropical escape is within your grasp. And actually, your credit card could be the key. If you have the right one, that is.
Using credit rewards is an easy way to cut travel costs, and yet many Americans don’t take advantage of airlines credit cards and airline rewards. Why? Maybe they just don’t know which cards to go with. If navigating all the options seems scary to you, start by checking out the perks of these highly rated cards:
United MileagePlus Explorer Card – This card earns you two miles for each $1 you spend on United tickets and one mile for every $1 you spend on anything else. It comes with no introductory fee and 40,000 bonus miles, but the best things about this card might be its extra features. You’ll be able to board early, and you (and a friend) can check your first bag for free.
Capital One Venture (SM) Rewards Credit Card – Because it gives you double miles on any purchase, this card helps you rack up miles fast, and because there’s no cap on the number of miles you can earn, it’s possible to save big on flying. You can travel when you want and on your airline of choice. You don’t even have to spend your rewards on miles – you can put them towards other travel expenses, too. The annual fee is $59.
CapitalOne VentureOne (SM) Rewards Credit Card – The mile rewards offered by this card are slightly lower than those of the other two – you’ll get 1.25 miles for every $1 you spend, and you can spend those miles on flights or cash them in for other travel expenses. You can choose your airline and flight date, but the true appeal here is that 0% introductory APR and its lack of an annual fee.
These are just some of the many cards out there that can help turn your purchases into free flights. Want to maximize your results? Make your biggest purchases with your airline rewards credit card. Remodeling your kitchen? Paying pricey medical bills? You can use your card to rack up free miles even faster.
Other Ways to Score Cheap Flights
Credit cards that offer airline rewards are by far the best way to earn free flights – but they aren’t the only way. In fact, you may even be able to combine your free miles with other cost-cutting tricks like these:
Frequent Flyer Programs – If you can’t afford to fly often, these programs may not help you earn a ton of free flights. But if you fly a few times a year, frequent flyer perks could be worth looking into – especially if you’re able to combine them with other discounts or earned miles.
Dig The Daily Deal – Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial sometimes offer vacation packages. Scope out the available deals and you might just score a huge discount on your flight. But be careful – these deals almost always come with blackout dates and other restrictions.
Become a Travel Buddy – This is by far the least-conventional way to fly for free. Wealthy travelers sometimes want a travel companion for a trip, but they don’t always want to bring a friend or family member along for the ride. So they pay for a travel buddy to join them for free. Search online travel forums to learn about these opportunities. But be careful! No free flight is worth being abandoned in Bangkok by a psychopathic millionaire.
In a perfect world, you’d have the ability to travel whenever you wanted. You’d set your watch to island time, hop on your private jet and take off to your favorite island. But let’s be honest with ourselves: the closest most of us get to the beach (most of the year, anyway) is a 10-minute fantasy with our “Ocean Water” Yankee Candle and our “beach” board on Pinterest. But a great vacation doesn’t have to drain your savings account. Think about the $2,000 you’re about to spend on those new kitchen counter-tops and then look at those three credit cards again. Margarita time?
Alayna Frankenberry is a writer whose research has taught her more about credit cards than she ever imagined possible. She hopes to share what she’s learned with you – in terms you can understand.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.