Is Travel Hacking The Ultimate Form Of Couponing?

by Justin Weinger on September 10, 2012

This article comes from my friend Jason Steele, a credit card expert and a contributor to Smart Balance Transfers and many other personal finance web sites.

At first, people realize that they can clip coupons out of their paper and save a few cents on their purchases. Later, couponing enthusiasts learn how to stack, double-dip, and start saving some serious dollars. In more recent years, Internet based deal sites like Free Snatcher have opened consumers up to a world of discounts and giveaways that extend far beyond their local shopping center. But what if I told you that there was an entire world of free travel that awaits the skilled consumer.

What is travel hacking?

For lack of a better term, travel hackers are those who engage in the perfectly legal practice of accumulating points and miles for the purpose of free travel. Some have taken this hobby to epic extremes. These extreme mileage hoarders like me have discovered that there are actually many ways to earn points and miles without even leaving your home. And the number one tool for doing this is your credit card. Travel rewards credit cards now routinely offer outstanding sign-up bonuses that can be equal to two domestic round trip flights or two nights in some of the world’s finest hotels. Credit cards can then be used to earn miles from everyday transactions as well. And beyond credit cards, airlines and hotels all offer points and miles through a variety of partnerships and promotions.

What you need to do to be a travel hacker

First, you have get serious about collecting all of your points and miles. Learn the details of your favorite program and all of the ways you can earn points and miles. To use credit cards to earn rewards, it is important that you always pay your balances in full and on time to eliminate debt before you start trying to earn rewards with a credit card. Once you reach that point, you are able to take advantage of sign-up bonuses and other promotions without worrying that interest payments are going to negate the value of the rewards you are earning.

By expanding your bargain hunting skills to include travel deals, you can discover a whole new way to have fun and take vacations for free.

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