One of the most expensive parts of a trip is the flight, so the first part of my vacation that I try to get free is the flight. In the last four years, my husband and I have earned and used over 75 free roundtrip tickets, and have paid for less than 10. Many people have asked us how we are able to travel so often for free, so I tell them that the secret to flying free is earning airline miles by signing up for credit cards. But, if you dig a little deeper, you will find that the real secret to earning miles quickly is earning large signup bonuses for these credit cards.
That’s why it’s important to find the best travel credit card.
For example, right now, by signing up for the American Airlines Visa card you earn 50,000 points by spending $2000 in 3 months. These points could be used to book an overseas flight for free, like a roundtrip award flight to Japan , or to get TWO domestic roundtrip award flights for free! The best part is, the annual credit card fee is waived for the first year, and if you don’t want to keep the card, you can cancel the credit card before the next year’s annual fee is due. Essentially, you get 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for free, and all you have to do is spend money that you would have normally spent anyhow on your regular household expenditures!
After explaining that the secret is signing up for credit cards, people always ask me won’t signing up for credit cards ruin my credit score? The short answer is it will drop it temporarily, but usually by only about 5 points (myfico.com). I have found that within 6 months my score bounces back. I would encourage you to read my article How Credit Scores Are Calculated as well as Why Your Credit Score is a Resource to get a better understanding of what factors affect your credit score and how you can keep it in top shape (so you can continue to get credit card signup bonuses in the future!)
Naturally, at this point, you are probably wondering, what is the best travel credit card right now?
This of course depends on you! Where do you want to travel and which airport do you plan to fly out of?
To get started, I would suggest picking a major carrier (e.g. American Airlines) and signing up for their co-branded credit card (e.g. American Airlines Citibank Visa) that has a signup bonus of 40,000 miles or more.
And it doesn’t have to end there! I would recommend that you create a strategy to sign up for a new travel credit card(s) periodically, so that you start to build up miles with multiple carriers (e.g. Southwest, United, etc), so you have flexibility for free future travel.