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Travel Hacking | How to Travel the World for FREE!

Over the years Amon and I have spent a lot of time traveling the world, totally free of charge. This includes countries like Spain, Japan, Hawaii, Italy, Portugal, and more! We’ve mentioned this before, and have been practically bombarded with questions. So today, I’m going to answer some of the most common questions people have about this subject.

Now keep in mind, we’ve already covered this topic in-depth on our YouTube channel, so I’m not going to focus on the basics. Instead, I’m going to cover the finer points and intricacies of traveling the world for free.

But just as a quick reminder - let’s define what travel hacking actually is.

Travel Hacking

Travel hacking involves using credit cards to get free flights and hotel points. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for credit cards with significant sign-up bonuses, plus extra bonus points that give you these perks.

This usually sounds pretty confusing when we explain it to friends and family. But focus on the sign-up bonus - The first bonus you get when you sign up for a card is the one you can use on flights and hotels.

Think back to buying a credit card in college, and getting a frisbee or t-shirt in return. It’s the same deal, but instead of a cheap frisbee, you’re getting a huge sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles or 60,000 hotel points. This is the simplest way to explain the framework of travel hacking.

Now I’m going to respond to some of the most common questions people ask about travel hacking.

1. What Are You Spending Your Money On?

With some cards, you have to spend a minimum amount on your card within 90 days before you can use the bonus. This can be as much as $3,000-5,000 in three months!

So people often ask us, what are we spending our money on? How do we manage to spend that much in three months?

It’s pretty simple. We’re not buying anything extra with the cards, we’re just using them to pay for our everyday expenses. And for a family of four living in a major city, we can easily spend that much within three months.

These expenses can include:

● Groceries

● Gas

● Car insurance

● Medical bills

● Cable

● Internet

● Phone bills

We try to be strategic about it, particularly if we have a big bill payment coming up. Sometimes if we plan strategically enough, we can use up the minimum in one payment.

2. How Does It Impact Your Credit Score?

So signing up for credit card bonuses for the purpose of travel hacking, is based primarily on credit card utilization, which makes up 30%. Credit card utilization is the amount of revolving credit you’re using, divided by the total amount of revolving credit you have available.

Any utilization ratio of less than 10% is great. And the reason I’m covering all this is that it is closely tied to travel hacking - the more cards you take out for the purpose of travel hacking, the more it affects your credit card utilization.

For example, if you have one credit card and put 50% of your spending on that card, your utilization ratio is 50%. But if you put that same amount of spending onto ten different cards, your ratio will be much lower.

So to answer the question, travel hacking can affect your credit score both positively and negatively. In our case, it has actually increased our credit score, but you need to get familiar with credit card utilization to figure out if it will work for you.

3. Do You Cancel Your Credit Cards?

The answer to this depends on a few things. Amon and I have a group of cards that we’ve had since the beginning of our credit history. We use these to maintain our long credit history.

The problem with getting a card and canceling it quickly is that it reduces the amount of time you’ve had credit, thus reducing your credit history. But because we have this core group of cards, opening a card for travel hacking and closing it soon after has minimal effect on our overall credit history.

So these core cards maintain our credit history, and then we have separate cards we use for travel. After using the initial sign-up bonus, we make a decision on whether or not to keep it. Some cards have an annual fee as high as two or three hundred dollars just to keep the card.

Before the annual fee comes up, we simply contact the company and ask them to waive the fees. It sounds too good to be true, but 75% of the time these credit card companies will do it! For those that don’t, we ask ourselves if it’s worth keeping them. Some have very low annual fees and high bonus points, so they are worth keeping. But it’s up to you to check the fees on your travel hacking card and decide if it’s worth it.

4. How Do We Keep Track Of Our Cards?

If you’re doing travel hacking properly, you’re taking out a lot of cards to get those free trips. And you need to be diligent about how you spend your money since you need to make those minimum expenditures to get the big bonuses.

We use spreadsheets to keep track of all our spending, which is our method for keeping track of almost everything. By keeping a spreadsheet for our credit cards we can organize all of our planning for future credit card-related travel. The most important part of using these spreadsheets is keeping track of when your spending is due on each card and how many points you’re getting.

5. Which Cards Should I Sign Up For?

There actually is a strategy for this. There’s something called the Chase Gauntlet, where travel hackers use Chase cards to travel hack as they have a limit on the number of cards you can have while using their bonuses. Their limit is five cards at a time, from any credit card provider. Any more than five cards and you’ll be ineligible for their sign-up bonuses.

However, Chase cards have some of the most valuable bonus points on the market, because you can use them for flights, hotels, cars and even get cash back. I mention this because people often take out dozens of cards before finding out about the Chase card, and by that point, it’s too late - they can’t read the travel hacking rewards.

The best way around this rule is to use your first travel hacking cards as Chase cards, and then look for companies without the five-card limit.

6. How Do You Get So Many Points For Traveling?

A lot of people are stunned by how many trips we can go on with these sign-up bonuses. Our trick? Referral bonus points. When we sign up for a card, we don’t list each other as authorized users. That way, we can refer each other to new cards, and get referral bonuses.

Many people miss this tip and miss out on a ton of bonus points in the process. Next time you sign-up for a credit card, don’t list your spouse or partner. Give them your referral code, and watch the bonus points roll in!

Those are the intricacies of our travel hacking strategy. None of it is too complicated, but they’re easy details to miss. And these details are the main reason we’ve been able to travel the world for free for the last few years. And if you plan your travel hacking carefully, you’ll be doing the same in no time.


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Hello, We’re Amon & Christina

We’re former federal government employees that focused on saving, making, and investing money so that we could grow enough wealth in our investments to never have to work again.

And, guess what? We did it! At the age of 39, we reached financial independence, quit our jobs, and . . . we retired!

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