Imagine paying less than $15 for a weekend trip to Paris. Become a “travel hacker” and that just might be possible.
Travel hackers are people who chase the best deals for cheap or free flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. Think extreme couponing with racked-up frequent flier miles and points from limited credit card promotions, hotels, and airlines. In return, they can travel to even the most exotic locations for free—or at least dirt-cheap prices.
The basic guidelines that travel hackers follow, ABC News reports, starts with signing up for credit cards that have special promotions and perks. Some hackers have more than 25 credit cards. Don’t overdo it, though, or it can harm your credit score. Monitor card balances and keep careful records of cards, points, and frequent flier numbers.
Travel hackers also look for promotions on anything—from rental cars to hotel packages—and learn not stick to one airline, use membership cards whenever possible, and research promotions extensively.
When Bryce Conway, a self-proclaimed travel hacker from Columbus, Ohio, hosted a bachelor party in Las Vegas, he flew all seven of his groomsmen for $7 per flight, reports ABC News. He and his wife flew to Paris for a long weekend, and spent a total of $10. Conway has also flown to Hawaii for less than $5. Overall, he says he hasn’t paid for a flight in three years.
Likewise, Boston native Matthew Kepnes—also known as Nomadic Matt—flies first class and business class and stays in top hotels throughout the world for close to nothing. He recently flew business class from San Diego to New York for $2.50. He’s also flown round-trip from Los Angeles to Germany for $5 and New York to Nicaragua for $2.50. Kepnes manages 19 credit cards to earn points, using three primary cards and keeping track of balances and payment dates on a spreadsheet.
“Anyone can do this,” Kepnes told us. “Ninety-nine percent of people can spend the minimum on cards and it’s money they’re already going to spend. It’s about taking all the opportunities to collect miles.”