Alright I admit it, I have an addictive personality.
When I was under the age of 19, I used to buy scratch and win tickets. I don't think I ever won anything more than $10 but the thrill of scratching those crossword puzzles was a bit too much. I also enjoy playing Black Jack at the casinos, but mainly only in Las Vegas casinos because they give you free drinks while you play.
I few years ago, I really got into couponing. Like to the point that I was hoarding stuff in my basement, like tissue paper and toothpaste. I had my foray into being a wannabe extreme couponer. Really, it wasn't extreme at all, but to me it was! Every time the cashier rung up my coupons I would get excited and that little “rush” of “will it or won't it? Will the coupon be useable? Will they accept it? Can I really pay only $1 for that item?”
I have since broken free from the addiction because I realized that the time I spent on that was a bit ridiculous and I realized that time is money…so now I have another addiction.
Most recently, I have stumbled across the concept of travel hacking. Travel hacking involves paying very very little for a flight or a hotel stay. Although I was involved in this a long time ago (with my Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, I remember staying at the Westin in Waikiki for next to nothing and enjoying that ocean front view that much more because it was, well… free!) I just recently got hooked again.
Travel Hackers With Experience
Rewards Canada has a great post on how to get at least 80,000 Aeroplan miles or 60,000 British Airways Avios miles for free. It all involves signing up for credit card bonuses. Now, if you are in debt, or if you have trouble with credit cards, you should stay away, stay very far away. But if you, are like me who don't really have to apply for any loans any time soon and have a reputable credit score already, a credit card application here or there won't harm your score too terribly… especially if you want to have your flight for next to nothing and you are determined to obtain this.
Our friend Steve Zussino is also interviewed on his history of how he travel hacks his way to cheap flights and cheap hotels at nice hotels with his family.
Although this is American, Get Busy Living talks about how he booked $20,000 of flight tickets for an actual out of pocket cost of $362.80.
My Plan Of Attack
Like my mildly extreme couponing, my travel hacking plan of attack is also mildly extreme. I'm not going to get $20,000 of flight tickets for $362. That would just involve too much effort and too much insanity which will not be good for me.
Therefore my plan of attack is simple (I know Aeroplan are the worst to collect due to black outs, seat restrictions, etc. but they are the easiest to accumulate at the present moment):
- Currently have >37,000 Aeroplan miles
- Aeroplan Gold American Express offers 20,000 Aeroplan miles and the first year is free
- CIBC Aerogold Infinite Visa offers 15,000 Aeroplan miles on sign up and another 5000 Aeroplan miles should you spend $500 in the first three months (it is $120 annual fee but the first year is rebated when you sign up- you need $60,000 minimum income or $100,000 household income)
- RBC Infinite Avion Visa offers 15,000 RBC points which can be transferred 1:1 (and even with a 50% bonus to British Airways Avios a few times a year) to Avios, Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific), and American Advantage (American Airlines)- normally $120 annual fee but it may be waived provided I have a number of RBC products (such as banking, investments, etc.). I actually used to have this card and loved it, but didn't want to pay the $120 for the annual fee after the first year. Here is my RBC Infinite Avion Visa review if you want to check it out.
- Over the course of a year (or maybe two) I am planning to get these credit cards then I will have 77,000 Aeroplan points + 15,000 points that I could move to British Airways Avios from the RBC Avion Visa.
- I know that Aeroplan taxes and fees can be killer, so once I get these points I will need to devise another plan of attack in order to utilize the points in an efficient manner without having to pay ridiculous amount in fees
Flexibility is Key
- Although the TD First Class Travel Infinite Visa sounds like a great option, I don't like how you have to pay $120 for it to start off with. I also don't like how you can't move those points to an airline points program (I like the option of transferring out points 1:1). It might work out better without the transfer, but I guess I like that option.
Readers, what do you think of my plan? Do you have any suggestions for alternate options or strategies? What are your favourite travel reward cards?