Want to travel for free? Here’s how I do it

Tony in Egypt on a two-week trip paid for by points and miles. Photo provided.

by Tony Baker @Touring Tony
Travel Columnist

One of the ways I can travel so well, so much, is being strategic about earning miles and points. When I’m ready to travel, I can use these points for airfare and hotel stays.

There are many ways to collect points and miles, and in many instances, you can accomplish this by everyday spending you would do anyway. Here are a few ways I do it, and you can too.

Fly and stay the old fashion way: One of the most obvious and simple methods is to earn points and miles the old fashion way; by flying airlines and staying in hotels. Always remember that if you get on a plane, or stay in a hotel, you need to be earning points. Always sign up for the company’s loyalty program, or credit those points or miles to one of their partners.

I spoke about collecting points in one of my past articles but always book directly with hotels instead of sites like Travelocity and such. Why? Because if you book third party, you usually do not earn points. Remember, if you find a cheaper rate, most hotel companies have a price match program that will match the price, and even plus some.

Shopping therapy: We all love to shop. At least I do! Most airlines and some hotel companies have shopping portals. A shopping portal is a site that shows what retailers you can shop with directly and earn points or miles on what you buy.

Most shopping portals are managed by American Express. When you go through a portal, it takes you directly to the site you want to shop on. The site leaves a cookie on your computer so it can see that you purchased something, then that company pays the portal a commission, and you receive your points or miles.

There are a few sites that list them all and show you which portal is paying the most for each site, like, cashbackmonitor.com and EVReward.com. These are the main sites I use. If I need something from Lowes, for example, I check these sites. If Delta airlines portal is paying three miles per dollar and American Airlines is paying seven, I go through the American Airlines portal.

This technique is an awesome way to earn miles or points by doing something you’d do anyway, so it’s just icing on the cake. It’s okay to collect points/miles on various programs because you will eventually find a use for them.

A way to double up on these points or miles is to use a points or miles credit card to make the purchases, which is the next item on the list.

Credit cards: If you can get points or miles on your credit card, I would. Gaining points or miles is another way to earn for everyday spending. There are many, many different points or miles cards. Research them all and pick one affiliated with a loyalty program you want to collect points or miles with, as well as boost your status with their program.

Many of these cards have huge signup bonuses and lots of perks, so it’s a win-win. If you don't like credit cards because it builds debt, that’s fine. Just pay it off each month. Use it in place of your debit card. If you are swiping a card, you need to be earning points or miles, period!

These were just a few ways to rack up a ton of points or miles, but there are many different ways. Go to the program you’re most interested in accumulating points. They all have pages like “earn miles” or “earn points.” Most loyalty programs have “points for dining” options, points for renting a car, points for this, and points for that…the possibilities are endless!

In closing, don’t leave money on the table! Collect those points or miles, and then you can travel for free!

If you have any questions, drop me a line at gayly@gayly.com or find me on social media @TouringTony.

Thanks for reading, and please, travel more!

Copyright The Gayly. 11/17/2019 @ 12:01 a.m. CST.