How to Travel for Free: I love to travel; from a very early age, I wanted to see as much of the world as possible and experience the wonders of nature and different cultures. It's the best classroom in the world, experiencing everything firsthand. The difficult part is funding it all.
When you are passionate about something, you will figure out ways to make it work. So, I read many of those miles blogs and, through the years, have gotten into a system of getting enough miles without traveling to fund most of my flights.
I have traveled to forty countries so far, so let me explain how it all works.
How to Travel for Free
Many people are skeptical of flying for free because it sounds too good to be true, but earning enough miles without flying to take a free trip to Europe is possible. The only cost you will incur is the taxes on the ticket, which are minimal.
There are several ways to earn miles without flying. You can sign up for a credit card offering miles as a signup bonus or use a shopping portal to earn miles when you make online purchases. You can earn miles by your usual shopping, dining out, renting cars, and booking hotels.
I use a combination of these methods to earn miles. I sign up for credit cards with a large signup bonus and use a shopping portal for all my online purchases. I also dine out frequently at restaurants that participate in airline mileage programs.
Below I'll go into more detail on how each of these work. Keep in mind that you can use your debit card for most of this if you prefer not to use credit cards.
Airline Shopping Portals
Airline shopping portals are a great way to earn miles quickly. Sign in to your favorite airline's portal before making an online purchase, and you'll earn miles for your purchase.
The number of miles you earn will vary depending on the store and the offer, but it's a great way to boost your mileage balance without having to fly.
Here's how it works:
1. Log into your United – go to shopping portal.
2. Click on the store you want to shop at.
3. Make your purchase as you normally would.
4. Miles show in your account a few weeks later.
It's that easy!
United Shopping Button
I use United's shopping portal extension, so I don't have to sign in whenever I shop. When I visit a participating store, a button pops up, and I click it to track my purchase.
Here are the steps in more detail:
1. Install the United shopping portal extension in your browser.
2. Go to the website of a participating store.
3. A button will pop up. Click it to track your purchase.
4. Miles show in your account a few weeks later.
I love using the United shopping portal extension because it's easy to use. I never have to remember to sign in and can track my purchases without effort.
You can earn miles for your purchases through an airline shopping portal regardless of whether you use a credit or debit card.
The card does not even need to be in your name. You can use your spouse's or another family member's card to earn miles.
Use one frequent flyer account for the whole family. I use my husband's mileage account to earn miles for all my purchases, allowing me to build up my mile balance in one place.
One word of caution – do not use ad blockers. If you do this, the shopping portals will not track your spending, and you won’t get miles.
If I were to use my account, my miles would be spread out between two accounts, making it more difficult to redeem them for a flight.
Using an ad blocker will prevent the shopping portals from tracking your spending, meaning you will not earn any miles for your purchases. I recommend using Google to shop and Safari for everything else. I do not use ad blockers on Google, but I do use them on Safari.
Another great way to increase your miles quickly is to use the United Mileage X app. The app works on IOS and Android smartphones, download and log into your United frequent flyer account.
There are different ways you can earn miles through the app. You can purchase e-gift cards from a great list of stores, dine at MileagePlus participating restaurants, shop via the United Shopping Portal, and purchase through a select list of featured apps.
Plus, if you have a United credit card, you earn 25% more miles on any purchase through the app.
In addition to shopping portals, many airlines offer dining rewards programs.
These programs allow you to earn miles or points for every dollar you spend at participating restaurants.
Since I build my miles through United, I use the dining on the Mileage X app.
To participate in the United dining program, you must register online first.
United currently offers a 2,500-mile bonus when you register for the program and dine within 30 days.
Apply for a mileage card that offers a large signup bonus. This one-time offer gives you a certain number of miles or points to sign up for the card and meet the minimum spending requirements. The minimum spending requirement is around $3,000 in the first three months.
Something important to remember before you apply for any mileage credit cards. You MUST pay your bill in full each month, or it's not worth it. The interest rates are high on these cards going from 17% to 25%.
Many different mileage cards are available, each offering various benefits. Some cards offer more points for travel, while others provide more points for dining. Using different cards to maximize your earnings is a good idea.
For example, you could use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for dining and travel, as it earns 3 points per dollar on those categories. You could then use the Capital One card for everything else, as it makes 2 points per dollar on all purchases.
You can earn more miles and points faster by using different cards for different purposes, which will help you reach your travel goals sooner.
Here are some additional tips for using mileage cards:
- Do your research before you apply for a card. Ensure you understand the terms and conditions, including the minimum spending requirements, annual fee, and interest rate.
- Set a budget and track your spending to meet the minimum spending requirement.
- Pay your bill in full each month; this is an important tip to remember, as the interest is high.
- Use your card for everyday purchases and to pay all of your bills; it's the best way to earn miles and points quickly.
You can use mileage cards to earn free flights and other travel rewards with a little planning. Remember to do your research, set a budget, and pay your bill in full each month.
How to Travel for Free with Bad Credit:
You can still accumulate miles using a debit card with the Mileage X app and shopping portals.
Hotel Stays | Loans
You can rapidly increase your miles by booking hotels through the MileagePlus App or logging into your frequent flyer account online.
As with the shopping portals, you get miles | points for booking through them. However, always shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal, and use the usual travel websites you are familiar with to compare prices. Airbnb is not listed in the booking portion of the app but it is listed on the e-gift card part so always check each section.
Mortgage | Loans
United works with Quicken Loans, and you can earn 25,000 miles when applying or refinancing a mortgage. They work with Lending Club for regular loans, which offers 1 mile for every dollar borrowed up to 40,000 miles. Offers can change, so research the different airlines before choosing.
How to Travel for Free: Putting it All Together
This hack works with most airlines and credit cards, so I will talk about the ones I currently use with United. Here is an example: I want to buy a $200 jacket at Banana Republic.
- Log into the United Airlines website and go to the shopping portal.
- Click on Banana Republic, which offers a 10 miles' dollar promotion. Choose the jacket and begin checkout – the total, including taxes & shipping, is $225.
- I go to the MileagePlus X app on my phone and purchase an e-gift card for $225. Banana Republic offers 5 miles' dollar in the Mileage X app
- I return to the BR shopping cart and enter the gift card number and pin.
TOTAL MILES = 3,375 miles
The entire process took less than five minutes. I rarely buy anything in-store, and only shop online as described above, allowing me to earn miles or points for every dollar I spend. Try to double up miles as I did above whenever you can.
By strategically utilizing shopping portals, airline programs, and credit cards, you can start earning rewards even while making everyday purchases, leading to free flights and other exciting travel experiences. So, what are you waiting for?
If you use this link to apply for a United Mileage Credit Card I will receive 10k miles. Every time you refer a friend you too will receive 10k miles so create your own link once you have the card and forward to family and friends. There are so many ways to build your miles. Keep checking the program after you join to stay up to date on ways you can do this.
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