Having worked for years in the airline and travel industry, this is a place where I can share my tips and tricks. I spent many a painstaking hour trying to book someone a round the world ticket using their Skymiles. Those calls would last hours, and I would want to shoot myself in the head. But now, I can call myself an expert, and share my expertise with anyone who would like to know how the system works.
To get the beast deals on travel, there are several discounted websites. If you are lucky enough to get an IATA card or be an airline employee or know someone who is, the savings are amazing!
There are several websites dedicated to these deals in the market.
Airline Staff Discount on hotels all over the world. New crew discounts & interline travel deals every day
A one-stop resource to book flights, lodging, activities, and more, ID90 Travel offers the very best deals out there for airline employees. Wherever your travels take you, save big on everything you need to travel
Dargal Interline offers the very best interline pricing on vacations for airline employees and their friends & family.
Membership program that offers steep discounts and savings
If you are not fortunate enough to have an IATA card, know an airline employee, don’t fret. There are still PLENTY of ways to earn free or deep discounts on travel.
The best way is to sign up for a credit card where you can earn miles, to use for hotels and airlines. If your credit isn’t the best, and you don’t qualify for one, some programs have debit cards you can sign up for and still earn points. Delta Airlines has a good one here:
Look for a card that will let you use it for both. Then put EVERYTHING on it you would normally pay in a month, and take it to the post office, and convert all your bills into cashiers checks. Pay what you need to online with it, and then pay it off each month. That is the fasted way to earn free travel. Why not get something out of the money you normally would spend. Just be smart about it and you would be surprised at all of the creative ways you can earn.
1. Delta SkyMiles Debit Cards
There are two versions available, the “Classic” and “World” with fees of $75 and $120 respectively. The latter version gives you the same rewards as the Delta SkyMiles credit cards, which is one point per dollar on regular spending and 2 points per dollar on purchases from Delta Airlines. You can apply for either debit card through SunTrust Bank.
Frequent Flyer Program Partners
Most frequent flyer programs allow you to earn miles for spending at partner businesses. Best of all, you don’t even need an airline card to participate; typically any debit/credit card can be linked to your frequent flyer account. You can turn these miles into free airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals and more. For as little as 1500 miles you can book hotel stays in places such as Thailand where last year I booked 10 nights of hotels in Bangkok for 17,000 miles!
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Dining program allows you to earn three points for every dollar spent at partner restaurants. If you live in a mid-sized city or above, there’s a good chance you will find participants in your area. For example, there are currently fourteen different restaurants within a ten mile radius of Ann Arbor, MI. Of course, larger cities are likely to have even more. You can also join Delta Airlines Skymiles program and earn points every time you dine out or shop at certain partner businesses. You register your mileage number and card that you will pay with, and each time you shop or dine, you earn miles. How cool is that?
American and United also both have programs also.
3. Financial Services
You may be able to earn miles for getting an auto insurance quote, opening a brokerage account, and even getting a mortgage. The Delta SkyMiles program offers opportunities for all of these. My favorites are their offers for Fidelity and Ameritrade—you can receive 15,000 to 50,000 miles for opening and funding a non-retirement account. The only catch is that you need to be making a five-figure deposit to score all those miles.
4. Rental Cars
Now this category is more well-known, since just about every frequent flyer program has rental car partners. Now there are some, like Virgin America’s Elevate, which only have a couple participants. However most have several different companies in their network, like the United Airlines MileagePlus car/transportation partners, which include Hertz, Avis, National, Budget, Alamo, Thrifty, Dollar, and Sixt.
This is another common category you will find on most mileage programs. Most hotels have a loyalty program, similar to airlines. You can also put your stay on a regular credit card that gives you points to use for both airlines and hotel stays.
On a day-to-day basis you probably won’t be using these partners, but when it comes time to order flowers or buy gizmos and gadgets through mail order, there’s a good chance you will find retailers like 1-800-Flowers, Bose, and SkyMall among the participants. Now there are a couple exceptional programs out there, which offer a much larger selection of retailers. Take the United MileagePlus, which allows you to earn miles at dozens of popular online stores.
From newspapers to Netflix, some airlines allow you to earn miles on various new subscriptions you buy through them.
Giving is great, but giving and receiving is even better! A lot of charities will give you points for donating. Also there are a lot of charity programs out there, if you HAVE a lot of miles already, and would like to donate them to charity for a good cause. Delta has an excellent program where they partner with several charities that you can give your miles to for a good cause.
9. Give the gift of mileage to friends or your children
Most programs will allow you to give your miles to someone else. If you would like to save them all up and give them to your child or parent, they will allow you to purchase tickets for them using your miles, or you can transfer miles to their accounts. Also you can buy miles (up to a certain amount each year), to make up the difference in a ticket, if you are a few short. Some times this is a great deal. Hyatt hotels currently has a points plus cash program, which allows you to pay points plus cash. For instance, to stay at a top level tier 6 hotel that averages $500 a night, it would only cost you 12,500 points and $150.00 cash. The possibilities are endless.