How to Score Awesome Travel Perks for Free
Taking a vacation is one of the biggest rewards we can give ourselves after working the other 50 weeks of the year. But you don’t have to spend your hard-earned money to get away. There are deals and savings programs that can get your free travel rewards, which are the very best kind of rewards to have. The following are some of the easiest ways to score free travel and perks.
Get Free Flights
Get bumped. Oh yes, the airlines really do oversell their flights because each seat is precious dollars and they prepare for last-minute cancelations. But sometimes everyone shows up and they are overextended. This is when they ask for willing volunteers to take another flight, often offering you a flight voucher. If you can be flexible and wait for the next flight, you can earn a free flight.
Sign-up for an airline credit card. The competition to get your spending dollars extends to credit cards and there are cards that will give up to 50,000 bonus miles if you spend a certain amount (between $1,000 to $5,000) within the first 90 days of opening the card. Of course, the cards are banking on you not paying off that debt so they’ll earn interest but if you use your card and put every expense on it for the first 90 days and (this is important) pay off the debt before the new billing cycle, you’ll get the bonus miles without spending more than you intended. Those miles are enough to get a free flight.
Enroll in a frequent flier program. If you fly enough, every flight you take can earn you points toward a free flight, especially if you live near an airport hub and can use the same carrier for all of your flights. It’s free to enroll, so it doesn’t hurt.
Get Free Seat Upgrades
Enroll in a frequent flier program. Those same programs may qualify you for free upgrades. Depending on your status in the program, you can automatically receive an upgrade without even asking. If you don’t have much status, you can request and upgrade and if enough are available, receive one. Being a member of the programs often mean you get to select preferred seating for free, meaning more legroom even if you are in regular seating.
Get Free Airport Lounge Access
Airline credit cards save the day. Another reason to enroll in an airline credit card is members often receive free lounge access at airports. Rather than spending your time in an airport sitting on the floor to charge your food and eating greasy fast food, you could be enjoying a comfortable and quiet lounge with free hors d’oeuvres and drinks and plenty of charging stations.
Get Free Jump-the-Line Access
Another perk of credit cards. Credit cards with travel rewards are beginning to offer reimbursement for TSA Precheck and Global Entry, valued at $85 and $100, respectively. These government-issued cards allow you to walk through security with your shoes and belts on and laptops and liquids packed away. The lines are shorter and you only have to walk through a metal detector rather than the full-body scanner. For Global Entry, you can use a kiosk at U.S. entry points with your pre-process passport, skipping lines that could take hours.
Get Free Hotel Stays
Enroll in a loyalty program. Just as airlines have programs giving frequent fliers points, so, too, do hotels. You can earn points that will help you earn a free night stay at any hotel within the brand’s collection. Other loyalty options can be found, most notably with aggregates like Hotels.com. If you book a property using Hotels.com and stay 10 nights, regardless of the brand, you’ll earn a free night. The rate matches your average spending so if you book 5-star properties, you’ll earn a free night at a 5-star hotel.
Sign-up for a hotel-partnered credit card. The hotels are also partnering with credit card companies and travel credit cards earn points on dollars spent can be used to build up points for your loyalty program. New cardholders can find large bonus points for spending a certain amount within 90 days, just like the airlines. Again, spend away but pay off the monthly debt so you don’t get charged interest.
Get Free Room Upgrades
Ask. You’ll be surprised at how many hotels are not booked solid so when you arrive, you can always ask for a better room. This works best if you check in late, well after check-in hours, as the hotels have squared away most of its guests and know its cancelations. Slipping the hotel clerk a tip also helps.
Turn to the loyalty program. Earning points for a free night isn’t the only reason to enroll in a loyalty program. Doing so let’s the hotel know you are a frequent guest and they are more apt to automatically upgrade you because of it. Plus, you’ll also receive other perks like complimentary WiFi and bottled water.
Get Free Admission and Meals
Watch for Coupons. Hotels near attractions and restaurants often feature coupons for those attractions at their front desks or concierge. In-room magazines touting all the destination’s offerings also feature coupons and deals within the pages. Visitor Bureau websites in the destination you are visiting may offer these, as well. Many times you’ll find 2-for-1/BOGO offerings.
Try Groupon. Before traveling to a destination, log in to sites like Groupon and LivingSocial and enter the location to see what specials are available if you purchase tickets in advance. Many of these are also BOGO sales and extend into dining.
Stalk Social Media. Like and follow your favorite attractions and restaurants or those in destinations you will be visiting and you’ll be surprised at how often they feature BOGO deals that the rest of the public is unaware of.
Celebrate your birthday. Remember these? Get a free meal if it’s your birthday? They still exist at many chains around the country. All you need is a paying adult to join you and your meal is free. Check your favorite restaurants’ website to see if they have birthday programs in which you can enroll.
The bottom line
Sometimes it feels like if it’s too good to be true, it is, but in reality, these deals really are available and don’t require much for you to earn them. As the ad goes, “they are your rewards, use them!”