2015 is almost over, and there’s no way I was going to let the year end without taking a big trip. In a few weeks, I’ll be on a plane heading to Ghana. There isn’t a word in the English language that can express my excitement right now.
For one, I’m half Ghanaian, but have never stepped foot in the country. Don’t judge. Secondly, this has been my first full year of working a full time job. I miss the certain spontaneity and impulsiveness that came along with college life, so it’s time for a break from the usual. But beyond that, let’s talk about this serious frugal finesse: how I booked my roundtrip flight from Atlanta to Ghana for only $400.
1. Join frequent flyer programs for the airlines you fly regularly: I travel pretty often for work. But not always on the same airline. By joining frequent flyer programs for the airlines I fly regularly, I earn points every time I fly. Setting up a profile only takes a few minutes. Just go to each airline’s website and create a new frequent flyer account. Trust me it’s worth it. I racked up over 15,000 miles on Delta alone.
2. Apply for a credit card that offers a significant amount of frequent flyer miles: Often times, airlines offer 30,000 – 50,000 frequent flyer miles if you are approved for their credit card and spend a certain amount of money within the first few months. Tip: Always wait until an airline is offering the maximum amount of miles (normally 50,000) before signing up. This can easily equal a few domestic round trip flights, or event one roundtrip international flight. You also get perks like priority boarding and a free checked bag.
A few caveats here: First, most credit cards come with an annual fee, and these are no different. However, the first year’s fee is normally waived. Simply cancel the card after one year if you don’t want to incur the fee. Second, the spending requirement to earn the free miles can be pretty hefty. For example, with Delta you have to spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. A few ways you could fulfill the spending requirement include: 1) Using the card to pay your rent and bills or 2) Buying a money order in the amount of the spending requirement, make it out to yourself, and deposit the money into your bank account, and pay the credit card balance off with that money.
So with 15,000 miles earned from traveling and 35,000 miles earned from my Delta credit card, I turned my $900 ticket into a $400 ticket.
Be sure to check out The Points Guy website! It’s a great resource that compares the best current airline credit card offers. This will help you find the credit card that is right for you.