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10 Travel Hacking Mistakes to Avoid

Rows of seats in an airplane


I’m a huge fan of travel hacking. It’s transformed my travels and saved me thousands of dollars over the years.

Travel hacking is the art of signing up for travel credit cards and collecting points and miles that you can cash in for free flights, flight upgrades, hotel stays, and more — all without any extra spending. In short, it’s a way to get more for less.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed countless free upgrades, free flights, free hotel stays, and other perks — all without any extra spending. Travel hacking has helped open the world to me, so I’m a huge advocate for it, as I’ve seen what a difference it’s made in my travels.

And, while the best cards and perks are in the US, travel hacking is available all around the world too (Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe all have travel hacking options these days).

Since I’ve been travel hacking for years, I’ve talked with countless people about playing the points-and-miles game. I’ve also seen tons of newbies make countless mistakes — mistakes that impact their ability to travel for free (or at least for cheap).

Here are the biggest travel hacking mistakes that I see people making so that you can avoid them, save your points and miles, and make your travel dollar go further:

1. Not Starting at All

When I ask most people why they don’t travel hack, they just shrug their shoulders and say, “I don’t know. Seems hard, I guess.”

The biggest reason that people don’t start travel hacking is that they think it’s too complicated, it’s only for people who travel often (or are big spenders), or that it’s a scam.

But side-stepping the points-and-miles game entirely is the biggest mistake you could make. It’s akin to saying no to free money. If you pay off your credit card each month, you’re losing out if you aren’t earning points and miles, which are simply perks that you get for being smart about your spending.

2. Not Having a Goal

A stunning view at a nice resort by an infinity pool overseas
Before you sign up for your first card, the most important thing to do is make a goal. Think about the trip you want to take, where you want to stay, and how you want to get there. Then get the travel credit cards that will help you get there.

Without making a goal, you’ll have no idea what card (or cards) are best for you, as each offers different benefits that will fit different lifestyles, budgets, and travel goals.

Remember: there is no perfect card. There is only the perfect card for you.

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