Travel Hacking in Early 2013


Every year when the calendar rolls around to January 1, it’s time for me to get back out on the road. I love travel and I love doing events—I’ve been in eight cities in the past ten days—but I also have to get back to work on requalifying my elite status with all my favorite airlines and hotels.

Last year I hit the mark for the highest status with American Airlines, Hyatt, and Hilton hotels. This year I’m hoping to requalify for each, with the addition of more Starwood stays to earn the highest status with them as well.

Why bother? Because it makes my traveling life easier, and also because it’s fun.

New and Improved Frequent Flyer Master

For the past few months, we’ve been listening to customer feedback and making hundreds of revisions to the original Frequent Flyer Master guide.

The original guide has helped thousands of people earn (many) millions of miles. We regularly hear from people who are flying First Class all over the world, and I’m thrilled that the resource has been helpful.

The new version contains many updates, new links, and much more current info than the original. By popular request, we’ll also be revising the update series that all new guide owners receive upon purchase.

Have you purchased it before? If so, it’s FREE to you. You should have received an email last night with a link to the new manual.

Haven’t purchased yet? You can still do so now, for the same original price. (And yes, we still have the mileage guarantee of 25,000 miles in 90 days or your money back.)

–>Frequent Flyer Master guide

FFM: Newly Updated

Note: Sometimes people ask about the difference between this guide and our Travel Hacking Cartel. The guide is a one-time product. You buy it once and that’s it—you get the info, and you get some occasional updates. The Cartel is an ongoing service. It has a monthly fee and delivers a lot more info and Deal Alerts on an ongoing basis.

Cards for Travel

In addition to working on my 2013 elite status, I’ll be applying for a few new credit cards soon. Regular readers may recall our Frequent Flyer Challenge, where I originally earned 300,000+ miles in two months thanks to card applications (with no long-term negative effect on my credit score). Since then, we’ve repeated the challenge a couple of times and opened it up to readers, many of whom have had great success of their own.

Here are a few of my favorite cards with direct links to the applications.

Chase Sapphire Preferred. A great card I use wherever I go, thanks to no foreign transaction fees and double points on all travel and dining spend. Get 40,000 flexible Ultimate Reward points that transfer to United, Hyatt and others with no annual fee for the first year, and no foreign transaction fees. Read more or apply here.

AmEx Preferred Rewards. My new favorite business card (replacing the classic AmEx Gold that I used for years). This one is better thanks to providing triple miles on all airfare spend, an annual bonus of 15,000 miles once you reach $30,000 in spend, and an initial bonus of 25,000 miles after $2,000 spend with no annual fee for the first year. Read more or apply here.

British Airways Visa Signature. A new British Airways offering from Chase that gives you 50,000 Avios with a low $1,000 minimum spend in 3 months and up to 100,000 Avios this year. Read more or apply here.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. The longstanding go-to card for personal spending awards points that can be transferred to almost any airline on a 1:1 basis with a 5,000 mile bonus for 20,000 points transferred. Read more or apply here.

Chase Ink Bold® Charge Card. Earn a big Chase bonus (up to 50,000 points) that can be transferred directly to United or other partners. Read more or apply here.

Chase Ink Plus. Get another 50,000 points from this Chase business card you can carry alone or as a companion to the Ink Bold card. Read more or apply here.

Managed well, there’s no easier way to quickly rack up the miles than with credit card signups. Your credit score will actually improve over time with more applications—I’ve seen it over and over.

You can get a business card if you do any kind of business work, including blogging, consulting, or any kind of freelancing. If you have a willing spouse, partner, or travel buddy, you can double up by completing separate applications and earn twice the miles.

You can keep up with the latest offers at our partner site,

Of course, if you can’t get credit cards due to living outside North America, or if you simply don’t want to, there are plenty of other things you can do to earn miles. That’s what guides like Frequent Flyer Master are for.


Travel hacking has allowed me to see the world for more than a decade. I’m almost done (!) with visiting every country, and many of them would have been prohibitively expensive without the ability to fly for free (or almost free) thanks to Frequent Flyer Miles.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re having a good week. I’m in Dallas today and returning home to Portland this weekend.

– Chris


Image: NONO

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