What type of traveler are you? Knowing the answer to this question can help you create a plan for travel hacking that coincides with your travel goals. You want to be a points and miles user and you plan to open credit cards. You can’t wait to get bonus points. But do you have any plans about how you want to use those points? Where do you want to go? What type of traveler do you want to be and how will that dictate what kind of points you go after?
There are lots of different types of travelers and each will have its own goals. These goals will influence the types of cards you are applying for. Let’s dive into the different types of travelers and travel hackers!
This type of traveler is like Alex. She is a planner. Not only with credit card points but with life in general. This type of travel hacker generally plans a couple of trips a year and then plans what credit cards she is going to get around those trips. She keeps the 5/24 rule in the back of her mind. When limited-time bonuses come around she will consider how she will use those points before applying for the card. At the same time, she is likely to apply for increased airline bonuses in most cases because she loves having a stockpile of airline points.
She recently had her husband get the personal and business Southwest Credit Cards so he could get the Southwest Companion Pass. Because they have the pass, they have decided that they will go back to Hawaii this year since Southwest just started flying there. They will use the points from the signup bonus for his ticket and she can travel for free with the Companion Pass. Additionally, they are planning to use Marriott points to stay at the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort. They stayed there last year and absolutely loved it.
She is also using the Southwest Companion Pass and the points they earned from her husband’s signup bonus to fly their entire family of five to Newport Beach where she and her husband will attend a timeshare presentation. They only paid $299 for their accommodations at the Marriott Newport Beach Villas.
If you are a planner, your goals for free travel should involve deciding where you want to go and then deciding what cards you need to get to make it happen. We recognize that this is all new for you and you are always welcome to contact us for help.
Yep, that’s me!! My goal for free travel is to get all the points I can and then decide where I want to go. I make anything a possibility because I have so many points. Currently, I have 2.5 million points in a variety of cards including transferable cards, cobranded cards (airline and hotel), and fixed currency cards. See more about all of that here.
I have spent at least one million points already so in about 3 years, I have acquired about 3 .5 million points. My travel plan has been earn, then burn! That may not work for everyone but I am pretty OCD in a lot of things so it is a natural fit for me.
This travel plan works better for someone probably older with a little more disposable income. I find value in paying more for annual fees because I have the time to travel and can use their benefits more. I was over 5/24 when I started so have never had some of the Chase Credit Cards, particularly the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Because I have so many points now, I am currently on a self-imposed credit card application freeze so I can get some of the Chase credit cards. I am still trying to maximize my earning potential on points by using the best card for each purchase but I miss not getting those big bonus spends!!
If you are like me, you may ignore the 5/24 rule at first. Just keep applying for credit cards for yourself and your spouse. It is one way to travel hack and has been very profitable for me. Sure I have a few points that I’m not sure what I’ll do with yet but having so many options when I plan a trip is really, really nice!
In November, I am going to Chile for 2 weeks with a Spanish Immersion group that I joined. Most of them are my age and traveling economy. Because of my travel hacking, I get to be in business class in lay-flat seats. My large stash of points allows me to say yes to last-minute travel plans and to travel internationally in business class all the time.
My goals for free travel always include a business class seat for international travel!
Your goal for free travel might be to travel domestically. You never want to pay again to travel to visit family or take the family on a trip in the United States. My sister has followed my good example and signed up for several credit cards like Southwest, United, and American and has used them to fly free for years to visit her daughter or me. Occasionally, she has used her miles to travel to Mexico but she primarily has used her points for domestic travel.
If your goal for free travel is like hers, you will probably concentrate on the airline co-branded credit cards. Another good choice is credit cards like Chase, American Express, and Citibank that you can transfer into airline miles.
Some people just hate to fly. I have a friend who will avoid a plane trip at all costs. She loves to go places with family but prefers to drive. If that is the type of traveler that you are, then your goal may be getting hotel stays for free. Concentrating on all the great co-branded credit cards like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and IHG can get you a lot of free nights.
From there, you can decide if you want to use your points on a few luxury hotels or many nights at a low-medium range hotel. So many options, your goals for free travel are totally up to you. Getting the most value, for YOU, is what you need to plan for.
One person may think that using 50,000 points for a night in a $1,000/night hotel is the best use of points. Another person may think that getting 10 nights at a cheaper hotel is the only way to use points. Either way, the road tripper can definitely get a great value on travel hacking.
Travel hacking makes traveling in luxury possible. While I would never spend $7,000 for a lay-flat business seat to Dubai, I will spend 70,000 points for one. Especially when all I have to do to earn the points is sign up for a couple of credit cards and meet the minimum spend. I literally paid $36 In taxes and fees for luxury. Oh yes, I will do that over and over again. A luxury traveler is totally the type of traveler that describes me now.
I love to stay in hotels where I am upgraded to a suite. I love a free breakfast in a hotel’s club lounge. Hotel status has given me both. I have found that I love the good life. Luxurious travel is what I’m all about at this stage in my life. Could I travel like this on my own dime? Maybe once, but not often. Travel hacking and setting my goal for free travel towards luxury travel is something you can do too if that is what you want.
The luxury traveler definitely wants some good airline credit cards. They also want transferable credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Business Preferred. These are cards they can transfer into airline miles if they want those lay-flat seats. Certain cards like the Chase IHG Credit Card, the American Express Platinum Card, and Hilton Honors Aspire Card also give you hotel status. The chance of a room upgrade and free breakfast increases with hotel status.
Your goal for free travel may be to make your points stretch as much as possible. Economy class travel is fine for you and a hotel is only a place you hang your hat. You are off having experiences and are hardly at the hotel anyway. You want to use as few points for as long as possible. This was me in my 20’s and 30’s. My points (if I had been travel hacking then) would have lasted a long time. Is that your type of traveler?
If this is you, then you have A LOT of free travel ahead of you. Start accumulating those bonus points. Follow the 5/24 rule, apply for the best card with the highest bonuses at that time. You can enjoy free travel for years to come!
Each of us has a different lifestyle or might at a different time in our lives. Free travel is available for all though! Think about the type of traveler you are. This will help govern the choices you make about what credit card to apply for next. It will help you decide how to use those bonus points you’ve acquired. Your goal is to travel as a points and miles user in the best way possible.
Take a moment to decide what type of travel goals you have. Make a list of credit cards you want to apply for that will help you reach those goals! Anything is possible and you can make it happen!
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