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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 July 10, 2020

    The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

    The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

    Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

    Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

    Identifying All of Your Debts

    The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

    Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

    1. Own Your Debt

    Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

    Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

    2. Make a Debt Tracker

    It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

    Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

    3. Get Your Debt Number

    Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

    Prioritizing Your Debts

    All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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    1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

    Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

    There are three main types of bad debt:

    • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
    • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
    • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

    Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

    • Student Loan Debt
    • Mortgage Loan
    • Business Loans

    2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

    Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

    Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

    If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

    3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

    Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

    Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

    Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

    1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

    “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

    It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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    Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

    Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

    2. Hide Your Credit Cards

    If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

    Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

    3. Automate Everything

    Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

    4. Plan Ahead

    Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

    For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

    5. Live Cheaply

    The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

    • Live with roommates
    • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
    • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
    • Take public transit or bike to work

    Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

    The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

    If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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    1. Maintain a High Credit Score

    Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

    • Never miss a payment
    • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
    • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
    • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
    • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

    2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

    Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

    Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

    If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

    How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

    Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

    1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

    Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

    Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

    2. Earn More Money

    There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

    Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

    Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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    Talk to Your Boss

    Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

    Start a Side Hustle

    This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

    Build an Online Business

    There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

    3. Celebrate Your Wins

    As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

    While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

    4. Set New Financial Goals

    Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

    Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

    These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

    Conclusion

    Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

    Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

    More Tips on Getting out of Debt

    Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

    Reference

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