How to Tackle Your Bucket List With Points, Miles and Deals
Bucket list trips don't have to cost a fortune. Here are 10 tips on how to use points, miles and deals to afford that once-in-a-lifetime trip sooner than imagined.
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Take Advantage of Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses and Points
Accumulate Points and Miles at Participating Vendors
Shopping portals are another way to earn points and miles. Visit aggregator sites such as Evreward or Cashback Monitor, which list how many points or miles you’ll earn from shopping at your favorite stores via major airline and hotel portals. The Points Guy, The Travel Sisters and Million Mile Secrets are among the many travel sites that provide extensive tips on how to maximize this strategy.
Don't overlook eating out as a way to acheive your dream trip. For example, the Rewards Network consists of more than 11,000 participating dining establishments, and it’s free to join. Just link a credit card and search whether you want to earn points with airlines or hotels.
Join Hotel and Airline Loyalty Programs
"It may sound simplistic, but the loyalty programs that save you the most money are the ones you’re actually able to use. It doesn’t make sense to earn Hyatt points if you don’t ever plan to stay at a Hyatt hotel, though the same doesn’t necessarily apply to airlines," says Honig from The Points Guy. "The major U.S. carriers all allow you to redeem miles with partners, too — in some cases 30 or more international-based airlines — giving you a ton of options when it comes time to book free flights. My favorite U.S. airline program is United MileagePlus, since I find that it offers the best award availability, especially on partners like Lufthansa and Thai," he says.
For those who aren’t brand loyal, particularly with hotels, Brent and Jackie Blum of Out of Office suggest Hotels.com for its reward program. "It cuts across major and boutique hotels and lets you accrue rewards points across all of them (letting your points rack up faster)." This means a free night’s stay after spending 10 nights at any of the 275,000 eligible hotels. The Blums add that Hotels.com also price matches popular sites like Booking.com, Priceline and Hotel Tonight. The site also offers secret prices only available to reward members. Plus, it’s free to join.
Manage Miles and Points
Volunteer to be Bumped From a Flight
Make Use of Stopover Programs
Grab Mistake Fares
Mistake fares are simply too-good-to-be-true fares that an airline or hotel posts in error, and which they usually catch and correct pretty quickly. However, if you diligently monitor certain sites that announce these, scoring one isn’t impossible. "Twitter accounts that tweet fare sales and mistake fares include @theflightdeal, @airfarewatchdog and @secretflying," says Geroulis of The Travel Sisters.
Just be sure to wait for a confirmation from the airline or hotel before booking the rest of your trip, since there’s no guarantee that a mistake fare will be honored.