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How to Fly First Class for Free

How to Fly First Class for Free


    There’s a way for you to fly first class for free over and over again.

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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:

    1. Apply for a new credit card that has a big frequent flyer mile bonus.
    2. If necessary, spend the minimum amount to get the bonus. Many cards have no spending requirement.
    3. 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.

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    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)

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    James Clear

    James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits. He shares self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research.

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    Last Updated on September 2, 2020

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

    In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

    4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

    Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

    1. Be Clear About the Objectives

    Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

    It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

    Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

    2. Keep Goals Realistic

    It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

    It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

    3. Account for Inflation

    Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

    Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

    For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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    4. Short Term Vs Long Term

    Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

    As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

    By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

    How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

    Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

    • Ensuring healthy savings
    • Making smart investments

    You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

    Ensuring Healthy Savings

    Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

    This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

    1. Track Expenses

    The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

    Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

    If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

    2. Pay Yourself First

    Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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    Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

    The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

    Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

    3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

    Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

    Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

    At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

    Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

    You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

    4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

    In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

    Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

    • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
    • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
    • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

    The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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    5. Talk About It

    Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

    Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

    6. Maintain a Journal

    For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

    If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

    When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

    Making Smart Investments

    Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

    1. Consult a Financial Advisor

    Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

    Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

    2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

    Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

    Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

    As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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    3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

    Einstein once remarked about compounding:

    “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

    Use compound interest when setting financial goals

      Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

      Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

      4. Measure, Measure, Measure

      All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

      If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

      Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

      The Bottom Line

      Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

      and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

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      Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

      Reference

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