How to Fly First Class for Free
May 16 by James Clear in Money | 189 Shares
The best part? It doesn’t require incredible negotiation skills or dumb luck. Anyone can do it.
Let me tell you everything you need to know so you can decide if this powerful travel strategy is right for you.
How to Fly for Free
A few years back, I started searching for the best ways to travel for cheap. I wanted to get out and see the world … or at least the United States.
What I ended up finding were a small group of people that were booking free flights over and over again with a strategy that was the complete opposite of what most people do.
You see, most people know that you can book a free flight by using frequent flyer miles. And if you have enough frequent flyer miles, then you can even fly first class for free. Of course, the only problem is that it’s really hard to accumulate a lot of miles by flying.
Luckily, there is a way to get hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles without flying at all.
This travel strategy is a special process called “credit card churning” and here’s how it works…
The credit card industry is extremely competitive. As a result, many credit card companies are willing to offer you huge frequent flyer mile bonuses if you sign up for their card.
This strategy works so well for getting frequent flyer miles that a group of people called credit card “churners” have used it to earn more than 1 million frequent flyer miles in a year. They apply for card after card and churn through as many applications as possible. Then, they spend the minimum amount needed to get the bonus (for example, $1,000 in 3 months) and move on to the next card. Some people routinely have over 15 credit cards on rotation!
The good news is that credit card bonuses work just as well for normal people like you and me. By simply getting 1 or 2 new cards, you can get enough frequent flyer miles for multiple round–trip flights.
There is no need to go crazy and get 15+ new cards. Of course, if you did, then you could literally earn enough miles to fly around the world multiple times.
Regardless of how many cards you’re comfortable with getting, these frequent flyer mile bonuses are the best way to fly for free because you can use frequent flyer miles to book flights anywhere and at anytime. For example, I used frequent flyer miles to book a free flight to Costa Rica last December, which is during the “high season” down there.
Where to Get Started
Many credit card churners get their information from a variety of blogs, forums, and websites. Thankfully, there are services that can do all of that research for you.
A great one to start with is The Credit Card Fly. It’s a free email newsletter that sends you a short weekly update of the best credit card deals for earning frequent flyer miles, free hotel stays, and rewards points.
Once you know the deals to apply for, the 3–step process looks like this:
- Apply for a new credit card that has a big frequent flyer mile bonus.
- If necessary, spend the minimum amount to get the bonus. Many cards have no spending requirement.
- Redeem your miles and fly anywhere.
Does this Hurt Your Credit Score?
Applying for new credit cards actually helps your score in one way and hurts it in another. Let me explain…
When you apply for a new credit card there is an inquiry on your account. New credit inquiries usually drop your score by a few points, but new inquiries only make up 10% of your overall credit score so the drop is small.
On the flip side, when you get a new credit card this also increases your overall credit limit and this will probably help your credit utilization ratio.
For example, let’s say that before your new card you were spending $2,000 and your total credit limit was $10,000. In this case, your credit utilization ratio was 20% ($2,000/$10,000). Then you get a new card and let’s say your credit limit raises to $15,000. Remember, your spending habits should be about the same because you’re only spending the minimum needed to get your frequent flyer miles. So now your credit utilization ratio is only 13% ($2,000/$15,000).
This is a good thing. A lower credit utilization ratio helps your credit score. For this reason, many credit card churners actually see their score increase over time. Many churners have 10 or more credit cards and still hold excellent credit scores in the 780 to 800 range.
How to Know if This Will Work for You
As a rule of thumb, your credit score should be 700 or above if you’re thinking about following this credit card travel rewards strategy.
And if you’re planning on applying for a bunch of cards to get tons of frequent flyer miles, then you should probably have a credit score above 720.
No matter what your score is, this strategy will only work if you pay your balance in full each month and carry no debt on your new cards. It doesn’t matter how good your history is, if you get a new credit card and start piling on debt, then your credit score will suffer and this travel strategy is useless.
If you have the discipline to pay your balance in full each month, then you’re ready to hit the skies.
(Photo credit: Passenger Windows on Plane via Shutterstock)