This post will set the foundation of knowledge for getting the most rewards out of your current every day spending.  If you would like see more content then Subscribe here.

I will come right out and say it… Free travel is not the 1-Step process that many popular pages claim that it is.

However, it does not have to be a grueling process that drains your time and energy. The most important step to free travel is setting up the system. The truth is that you will not have to change where you spend your money or how much you spend to get discounted/ free travel. It is not hard and I will show you how to do it in this post. Bear with me:

Step One: What Credit Cards Do You Have?

Credit cards are the most commonly used method to acquire benefits used for free travel for a reason: They are the foundation to maximizing your benefits and travel. What you need to know is that not all cards are created equal. However, do not be discouraged if you do not have one of the premium Travel Cards. You just need a card that has a point reward system that can be used for travel. The next steps will really boost your card(you may be surprised).

Example: If you spend a lot on Groceries, then get a card that gives you a reward bonus for buying groceries. You could get the Amex EveryDay Card which allows you to get 2x points at Supermarkets

Many articles are already on the web outlining the best cards to use, and I will give my opinion on this in a future post. In short, you want to look for a card that maximizes the amount of rewards you receive by tailoring them to YOUR spending habits. Don’t get a popular card if the spending categories do not match your lifestyle. Another great perk of these cards can be the signing bonus! The signing bonus alone can often get you a free flight.

Step Two: Read Your Cards Benefits… AND USE THEM!

People miss out on most rewards simply by not using what they already have. Go to your cards Web page and look at the deals that you are missing out on. All major cards have their own version and there is a lot of value packed in !

Example: Discover Deals include an ‘Extra 5% Cash Back’ link for shopping at Walmart. Simply click the Walmart link, purchase your groceries or other items and that is it ! A total of 6% Cash Back instead of a measly 1%. It adds up. If you spend only $250 on groceries a month and use the method I just mentioned, you will receive $180 back annually instead of only $30. Note that cash back is not the best method for free travel. 

A general rule of thumb is that you are doing it wrong if you are buying something online without additional rewards.

These are the 3 largest Airlines Alliances that account for most of the major Airlines

Step Three: Choose Your Favorite Airlines and Sign up for the Frequent Flyer Program (It’s Free)

This step is actually important for the next two steps. Airlines have Dining Programs and Shopping Portals designed to help you earn additional miles. (Pro Tip: Miles are the end game to all rewards). Do some research and see what airlines are transfer partners with your credit card, which have the most flights that pertain to you, and which would be your prefferred airline to fly with. I personally fly with American because they have a hub where I live which means that they have many options for direct flights! However, it is nearly impossible to transfer Credit Card Reward points to American, so I choose to use the British Airways Frequent Flyer Program and then book American flights from there. (Tip: You can often book flights on other partner airlines using your own airlines frequent flyer miles.)

Step Four: Enroll in the Airlines Dining and Shopping Programs

This step is a lot like Step #2. Chances are that your favorite airlines have these programs where all you have to do is enroll your card and you will receive free miles on top of your basic card rewards. I will explain both the Dining and Shopping programs and show you how simple it can be.

  1. Dining Programs: Airlines have dining programs where all you have to do is enroll your card and then use it when you pay at the restaurant. Simple. It does not have to be an Airline Branded Card; it can be any card.

Example: United has a Dining portal and includes my favorite Mexican Restaurant, Meso Maya. When I eat there, I get an additional 3 miles/$1 on top of my cards basic benefits. If I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, I will earn 2 points/$1 through my cards Reward Program at Restaurants and then 3 additional points through the Dining Program for a total of 5 miles/$1 spent! 

  1. Shopping Portal: Like the Dining Program, the Shopping Portal is another opportunity to earn more points for things that you are already buying! This is almost identical to Step #2. These portals have hundreds of online retailers that you can shop through while earning anywhere from 1 to 10 additional miles. However , there are some deals with highly lucrative bonuses. Rule: You cannot use both this shopping portal and your credit card portal for the same transaction. You must compare the same retailers on both portals and use the 
Don’t see your favorite airline? Do not worry, you can often book award flights for them through partner airlines as well (remember the Airline Alliances?)

Step Five: Transfer Your Points For the Best Value

Do not.. and I repeat.. DO NOT use your points for a statement credit, gift cards, shopping, etc. These are the best ways to get the lowest cents/point and the most counterproductive way to use your rewards if you plan on traveling (in most cases). The best method is to transfer your points to the Airlines frequent flyer program. You can get more than 3X the cents/point by doing this.

Example: 30,000 Amex points Gift Card Maximum Value(.7 to 1cents/point)=$210 to $300. If you were to book a flight through transferring to the airlines, you would most likely receive anywhere from 1-3 cents/ mile which equals $300-900. However, it can range even higher for certain routes and airlines. 

Step Six: Book Your Flight

The beautiful thing about transferring points is that there are so many options!!! You can search through many airline’s websites looking for the best price (in points) for a flight and then transfer the points to that Airline Frequent Flyer Program. You can shop for the same flight through other Partner Airline websites. Do an extensive search and find the best way to stretch your miles; it could save you hundreds of dollars.

Tip: I tend to get the best American Airlines flights by booking them through the British Airways portal because they use a distance-based flight chart. However, it will vary each different route that you take. 

The Bottom Line

If you set up your card to collect the most points for your lifestyle, multiple your points with shopping portals and dining programs, and redeem your points through transferring your points to Airlines Frequent Flyer Programs, then you have done the most important thing which is to set up a highly functioning system. This sounds like a lot, but after you set this up you will see just how easy it is. Living with this maximization system will increase your rewards and set you up to travel a lot more frequently. 

Go ahead, set up your own system and get the points for free travel 🙂 And let me know how it goes! 

If you have any questions at, please feel free to write me 🙂 I will get back to you as soon as possible! Please subscribe to this blog if you want to see more content on how to maximize your points and get the most from nothing. 

*Note: All point valuations are based on TPG valuations. These valuations are updated monthly and can be found on



Ty :

I created this website to change we way we share travel experiences and inspire others to travel. I believe that everyone can travel and I want to show you how. Learn to travel free here 🙂


  1. I am guilty of not knowing any of this.. Very informative article. I should probably do some more research on this. What is the best frequent flyer program ?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s