For the last five years, I have traveled around the country and around the world for a fraction of the cost most people pay. Thanks to clever use of my personal and business credit cards, I have earned hundreds of thousands of miles through a strategy called travel hacking. Travel hackers are a group of travel addicts who use clever techniques to build up giant balances of miles and points that they can use for free and discounts plane tickets, hotel nights, and other travel related goodies.
If free travel sounds like something you can get on board with, read on to learn how you can get started with travel hacking and saving money on travel with your business credit cards.
Freelancers and other business owners can access awesome cards
While you can earn miles and points when you buy plane tickets and hotel nights, you can earn even more with a rewards credit card. Some of the best cards are made just for business. Some top cards in this category include Chase Ink and American Express Business Platinum. Both cards recently offered 100,000-point signup bonuses worth enough for four free domestic plane tickets or two free flights to Europe!
These top cards do charge an annual fee, sometimes a big one. The Business Platinum from American Express comes with a steep $450 annual fee, but with miles easily worth $2,000 or more, the $450 fee is merely an investment in future travel.
Even more, the Business Platinum card gives you access to executive travel lounges at airports around the world, gold status at multiple hotel chains, statement credits for free flights or amenity purchases at a favorite airline, access to Amex’s concierge service, and more. These benefits can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars per year depending on how you use them.
Pick your cards carefully to maximize your rewards
I’m writing this article at 30,000 feet on a United flight, one I didn’t pay for. In the seatback pocket in front of me, there is an offer to get the United Explorer credit card with a 50,000-point signup bonus. Coincidentally, I have this very card in my pocket as well. But when I signed up, I took home a 70,000-point bonus. That is nearly enough for an entire extra domestic round-trip flight!
I didn’t have any secret code or special superpowers to get the 70,000-point offer. I carefully waited for the right deal to come my way when I chose the card. There are tons of deals out there for signup bonuses, but with a little research you can tell which are worthwhile.
Doing a little web searching will show you which are the best offers and which are just so-so. Never sign up for a card on a whim. Never take the first deal you see without first researching to understand if better deals for the same card have happened in the past. Odds are, if there has been a better deal before, that same offer will appear again sometime in the future.
Outside of one Amex card that I still carry and use regularly, I can’t think of a time I’ve ever signed up for a card for less than 40,000 points. Typically, I only get new cards in the 50,000-point to 100,000-point range for the signup bonus.
Serial entrepreneurs can get bonuses again and again
Some credit cards allow churning. Churning is a process of signing up for a new card, getting the bonus, closing the card around 11 months later, and signing up for the card again in the future. Not all cards allow churning. American Express is one of the strictest card issuers in terms of not allowing you to earn a bonus on the same card twice.
But if you own a business, you can get the card twice. Once for the personal version and once for the business version. But if you own multiple businesses, you can get the same bonus for each business. If you own two businesses, for example, you can get the card for each business and for yourself.
In most cases, it is best to wait a period of time between the applications for each business. However, in some cases, such as with the Southwest cards, getting both a personal and business version at once gets you very close to qualifying for a companion pass.
Hack your way to anywhere in the world
There is a big world out there, and once you been bitten by the travel bug it’s hard to look away. However, if you strategize well, you can go nearly anywhere on the planet for a fraction of the regular price.
Once you have your travel hacking strategy down, your biggest issue won’t be where you can afford to go, it will be coming up with enough time to go everywhere on your list. Before you start, you just have to answer one question: where do you want to go first?