As you regular readers know I am a travel deal junkie, and I love to work the ‘system’ whenever I get the chance to do so. A piece of me gets an almost fiendish satisfaction when I find a potential deal or loophole that enables me to abuse a credit card company or bank or whatever and thereby obtain free or at least heavily discounted travel. And of the best websites for keeping abreast of these deals and loopholes is Flyertalk.com.
The site is still relatively new to me, but I can tell I will most likely be getting to know this site very well in due time. For now at the very least I see that in the forums section you can easily read and ask about such things as 1) the best frequent flyer credit card deals currently available, 2) how you can open up new accounts with various banks and other financial institutions for substantial amounts of airline points, 3) the best deals on airline tickets whether you are using cash or airline points, 4) the best hotel deals going on all over the world, 5) and many other ways to help you work the system in general and stick it to The Man. For instance one of the more comical yet still useful things I discovered was how to purchase up to $500 worth of $1 coins from the U.S. Mint for $500 and no shipping, in effect costing you nothing. The idea being that you could use this ‘purchase’ as part of completing some minimal purchase amount needed for one or more of the airline point credit card deals that you sign up for.
And if you are an extreme airline point junkie, then you can take it to the next level and find out all kinds of great information on what they call ‘mileage running’. In this activity people find extremely cheap airfares for higher mileage journeys with the sole purpose in mind of obtaining lots of extra miles. They do this to obtain free travel of course, but an even bigger goal for these true diehards seems to be to obtain or retain elite statuses with the airlines which of course give them further perks like free upgrades, no baggage fees, access to special clubs within airports, etc. Even if you are not interested in flying for the sole purpose of obtaining airline points, in these forums you can still discover amazing deals on flights to places that you would really like to fly to anyway.
As far as playing the system in general I have heard a few people say that they don’t think it is worth their time and effort to do these kinds of activities just to get airline points or whatever else might be offered as a reward. Well, everyone is different and has their own particular circumstances and sets of priorities. I completely understand that, and for each deal that I hear about I make a decision as to whether it is worth it or not for me to participate. I always look at the amount of time I think it will take me to complete whatever transaction is needed to get the reward, the total amount (if any) of money it is going to cost me, and the approximate dollar value of the reward I believe I will receive. Sometimes I likewise end up deciding it really isn’t worth the hassle, sometimes it is a close call, and sometimes it’s a no-brainer.
For example, as some of you already know, a few months ago I signed up for a Chase United Visa card, made one small charge on it, garnered 50,000 bonus miles for my extremely minimal efforts, and then canceled the card. All this took up less than an hour of my time. I most likely will use those miles to help me fly back to Bangkok next year, and it takes 65,000 miles to do so. That ticket would normally cost $1,000 at the very least. Even using that extremely conservative price estimate, my less than one hour of effort netted me $769.23 in value [(50,000 ÷ 65,000) x $1,000]. I know with absolute certainty that there is nothing I can legally do to make $769.23 an hour, tax-free, so this offer was in the no brainer category for me.
For other offers or deals I may decide it is not worth the hassle. For instance, I am not too sure (yet at least) that it would be worth it for me to participate in the mileage running thing. Seems like way too much work and time for what I would get out of it. If I flew a lot more often then I could more easily see the value of getting elite statuses with the airlines I flew on. But I don’t actually fly that often, so I pretty much focus on net travel dollars saved per amount of effort required. Overall I basically look at all these various ways of earning miles as short-term, contractual job offers, almost like freelancing. And if I can ‘make enough money’ doing the ‘work’, then I go for it.
If any of you have already been using Flyertalk.com for a while please share your thoughts. Any pointers you want to share?
Travel well and save money!