I recently just got TWO round trip tickets to Iceland for $40 each for me and my husband.
Two Words. Travel Hacking. If you’re not using credit cards or loyalty programs yet, get started!!
I know, people usually have a few resistances put up when you mention using credit cards or loyalty programs to get free trips. Like…I could never get one of those credit cards, my credit isn’t good enough. Or I don’t fly enough to make use of the loyalty programs, it would never add up to anything.
Let me tell you, I used to think the same things. And you know what? My credit wasn’t good enough to get one of those cards. But when I kept seeing free trips being dangled in front of my face (I used to work in airline reservations too…so I saw it A BUNCH!)….there was really no reason not to start trying.
I’ll be honest with you. My credit used to suck. Like at one point I was in the low 500’s. Yeah. So, if I can do it, so can you!
I worked hard at getting my credit sorted. I signed up for a Capital One secured card first since well, that’s about all I could get. Eventually I was approved for other cards. I made sure to keep paying them on time and larger than minimum payments, and got approved for better and better cards.
I made it my goal to get approved for a Delta Skymiles card. I’m a Delta loyal (and let me tell you, since I worked for a major brand that was NOT Delta, that’s saying something). I waited til I thought I had a good chance and waited until they were offering a nice bonus. I applied when they were offering 60,000 miles after you spent your first $1,000 within 3 months. That sounded like a great deal to me. I figured I’d put my bills on it and use my normal bill money to pay it right off and spend that $1000 in no time. I applied, prayed for the best, and got approved! In case you’re wondering if you would too, I had around a 640 credit score at that point. (Check and see what bonuses they’re offering now by clicking here Full disclosure…if you sign up through my link Delta will give me a few miles also so thank you thank you thank you in advance!)
Not only do you get bonus miles, but you also get 1 mile for every dollar you spend on the card (2 miles per dollar for money spent on Delta), and of course the miles you fly. Having the Delta Skymiles card also gets you your first bag free for you and everyone on your reservation! Considering it’s $25 per person 1 way, that’s a huge benefit in and of itself! You also get earlier boarding, no foreign transaction fees (huge for international travel) and discounted Sky Club rates (can’t wait to check out the one in JFK!) , and 20% off in flight purchases (say, if you want an alcoholic drink or something more substantial to eat on a flight that doesn’t already include it).
I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland and keep hearing stories and reading blog posts about how expensive it is. I thought Iceland would be a great trip to experiment using our miles. I figured if we could get free flights, that’s a huge benefit to an expensive trip, right??
I made sure we were super flexible with our dates and departure airports and started checking (maybe obsessively) at all the dates we could go. To my surprise, there were actually A LOT of dates available from New York to Iceland for between 30,000 and 40,000 round trip. (Remember, the key is to be flexible. Check their hubs to find the international portion FIRST, use the flexible dates feature because leaving one day before or after you had planned can save you thousands! While there were plenty of tickets for 30-40k, there were also plenty for 50-60k!)
Once we nailed down our schedules, I easily made the ticket online. 30,000 points Round Trip and $40 in taxes/fees per ticket!
That will be a HUGE help in cutting down the trip costs for Iceland. It would have cost us $1,000 to buy those tickets. So we saved that much, just by having their credit card. Totally worth it!
Airlines aren’t the only ones with hotel and loyalty programs….hotels do too! Now that we have our flights…we’re going to use our Hilton Honors points for some free hotel nights in Iceland….talk about making an expensive trip affordable! I signed up for a Hilton Card when they were giving 100,000 point bonuses!!! Check out what they are offering now! (we’ll both get bonus points if you sign up with that link!) I’ll be writing a post on that soon!
Do you use miles and points for free travel or are you just getting started? What was your favorite trip with your points? Now that I’m starting, there’s no turning back!
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