Travel hacking, on the other hand, is anything but illegal. It is a bizarre term for the practice of collecting airmile and hotel rewards with a view to travelling free or in my case, flying business class for less than economy.
It isn’t reserved for just the rich and famous either, (I’m certainly neither). Anyone with a desire to travel more, or in greater style is eligible to take part. You just simply need to be aware of a few tricks of the trade to help you on your way.
I won’t bore you with details of the hundreds, if not thousands of ways you can earn points, but I will share with you the top three. If you do these three things alone, it won’t be long before you are on your way to business class flights or an extra weekend away.
Credit cards are the number one way to earn a ton of points. Last year I earned over 72,000 points simply by signing up to a number of airline credit cards and spending as much as possible on them. The idea is not to run up any interest charges or debt but to clear the balance each month with the funds you were previously using to make purchases.
Furthermore, you should only be diverting the spending you were making anyway, rather than giving yourself an excuse to go shopping on a daily basis!
This comparison provides details of the available airline credit cards in the UK and the differing spending requirements to qualify for the sign up bonuses, so be sure to select one where you can meet the minimum requirements.
You will also notice there are different earnings rates for various cards, but the best is the American Express British Airways Premium Plus card. This carries a hefty annual charge of £150 however this more than pays for itself if you can spend £10,000 on the card each year. Every time you achieve this threshold, you will earn a companion voucher which unlocks the door to business class travel with British airways. It’s effectively a BOGOF offer!
For every pound of spend you earn 1.5 AVIOS (British airways reward currency). With a £3,000 minimum spend in 3 months you would earn 30,500 points including the 26,000 bonus you earn for signing up with this link. That’s enough for one person to fly business class to over 40 destinations in Europe including Kiev, Moscow, Stockholm and Lisbon. All for a flat tax of £50!
If you hate shopping malls like I do then you are in for a treat! Most airline reward clubs have their own online store which is really an affiliate hub whereby they earn a referral commission for every click through which results in a purchase. British Airways Gate 365 and the Avios store operate on the same basis.
After logging into the relevant account, navigate to the store, find the shop you want to buy from, click on the link and within a clearly defined period, the points will be awarded to your account.
I earned over 25,000 points in 2015 doing this. A trip to Lapland with Thomas Cook earned me over 4,000 AVIOS alone. Simply by clicking through from the AVIOS store rather than going directly to their site I earn mega miles.
Now the observant amongst you may have realised that you haven’t actually left the ground but potentially have earned thousands of airline points. That’s the beauty of travel hacking in that you can earn tons of miles without flying.
Of course if you are fortunate enough to travel a lot for work or pleasure, you can rack up the rewards even faster.
The key here is not to spread yourself too thinly. Joining every loyalty programme on the planet may mean you never earn enough points from any to do anything other than bag yourself a subscription to Time magazine.
Many airlines are members of an alliance so having identified the airlines you most travel with, hop onto their websites and look for ‘Our Partners’ sections. There you will find details of which other airlines belong to their alliance.
In this way, you can join two or three programmes but, earn loyalty points for many other airlines. For instance my Miles and More account is Lufthansa’s programme, but I have just earned points from flights booked with Turkish Airlines to the Philippines.
By concentrating efforts on one or two alliances, you have a much greater chance of earning enough points to be able to redeem them.
For us Brits, it makes sense to join the British Airways Executive Club which is part of the OneWorld alliance.That alliance includes other big names such as Qatar, Malaysian, American and Sri Lankan.
Alternatively you can opt for Iberia (or both) as you can freely transfer points from Iberia to AVIOS/British Airways.
Don’t forget your bank account
Finally, don’t neglect to actually set up your airline loyalty club membership as this will be the depositary for your hard earned points.
So there you have it, you should now be all set to start ramping up the points with these top three tips, so what are you waiting for?