Scott Keyes has 25 credit cards.
It takes a spreadsheet to manage them all and use his credit wisely, but there’s a major perk for the effort: Keyes flies just about everywhere for the low, low price of free.
The 28-year-old reporter has been living and working in Mexico for the past year, and has planned an epic worldwide journey before he returns to the U.S. — and a regular day job.
136,500 Miles Can Get You to 13 Countries
Keyes outlined his itinerary, which will visit 13 countries on three continents during a two-month trip, for Business Insider. The cost? 136,500 frequent flyer miles (plus a few bucks for taxes).
Oh, and his hotel rooms during his trip? Paid for with points.
Sure, charging everything from coffee to car rentals on a miles-earning card helps you rack up points, but it takes a careful eye to monitor your spending. Keyes adds in other methods, like opening new cards to take advantage of lucrative initial offers or volunteering to get bumped from flights.
Do You Have What it Takes to Fly for Free?
Here are a few of his tips for finagling flights on your travel credit cards:
- Don’t rush your research. Keyes told Business Insider that it took him between 10 and 15 hours to plan his epic 13-stop trip. His careful planning goes beyond choosing locations — it’s also a matter of avoiding fuel charges and comparing airlines.
- Use web tools to your advantage. Keyes uses an RSS feed and Twitter lists to help him watch for airfare deals on blogs and reservation sites.
- Be flexible. “Starting with an open, blank slate and going wherever there’s a cheap flight right now is going to be your best bet,” he told Business Insider.
Keyes has written two ebooks, How To Fly For Free: Practical Tips The Airlines Don’t Want You To Know, and a newer version, How To Find Cheap Flights: Practical Tips The Airlines Don’t Want You To Know, packed with tips to help you fly for free — or close to it.
One promise guides his tips and tricks: “If you do a little bit of leg work — learn how to get a few miles and how to use them well — you can start to travel really, really well.”
Want to learn more about Keyes’ strategies? Check out the rest of his story on Business Insider.
Your Turn: Have you tried any of the same travel hacking methods as Keyes? Where have you traveled for free?
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Lisa Rowan is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C. She also owns a vintage clothing shop, a business that grew out of her love of exploring thrift shops.