Today I am sharing with you how I used travel hacking to get to Italy and the exact steps you can take to do the same!
I have been learning about the process and I've been amazed by the stories I read. I decided it was my turn since I had some large expenses coming up and a planned trip to Italy for a friend's wedding.
First, What Is Travel Hacking?
Travel Hacking is when you use credit cards with various rewards to travel for cheap or even free!
Don't worry this is completely legal and if done right, can help you take free flights to all your travel destinations.
Also, contrary to popular beliefs, travel hacking can improve your credit score by lowering your debt to credit ratio. I'll provide an example of this later.
How Do We Start Travel Hacking?
I started by opening a Delta Skymiles Platinum Card that offers 90,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. It has a $250 annual fee but with my frequent travels from Miami to New York, I knew it would save me money even with the annual fee.
About 1 month later, I opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 50,000 point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. I was able to reach the minimum spending for both cards because of the large planned expense I previously mentioned.
After opening the 2 new credit cards, I noticed my credit score decrease by about 20 points.
However, just 1 month later my score jumped back up to a bit higher than before! This is because of the lowered debt to credit ratio that I mentioned earlier.
I wouldn’t worry too much about this for new travel hackers, as long as you don't plan on buying a house or car in the next 6 to 12 months.
So, while I was waiting for the bonus points to hit my account I started searching for flights. I use Skyscanner to find the best deals. It gives you the option to include nearby airports and most of the time you find cheaper options just by changing plans slightly.
Once I had an idea of the prices and the bonus points hit my account, I started booking the flights.
The Flight Details:
6,000 Delta Points For Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) To Newark (EWR)
14,000 Chase Points For Newark (EWR) To Florence, Italy (FLR)
At this point, I knew I needed to be in Florence for a wedding but after the wedding, I was free to travel anywhere. I looked into cheap flights returning from Italy and compared them to where I wanted to go. I wanted to visit Rome and was pleasantly surprised to see that the return trips were not as expensive as some other destinations such as Venice or Milan.
The Return Flights:
26,205 Chase Points For Rome, Italy (FCO) Back To Newark, NJ (EWR)
6,000 Delta Points For Newark, NJ (EWR) To Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL)
I paid absolutely nothing for my round trip from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Italy. 28,000 points were remaining on my Delta account and 9,795 points with Chase. I plan on saving those points for future trips.
Altogether, I used 52,205 points which translates into $700 worth of free travel. That equals roughly 0.013 cents per point. I have seen more efficient use of reward points.
However, for my first time using travel rewards, I was very encouraged by the results.
Overall, this travel hacking experience was amazing. It feels different traveling when you know it was paid for by reward points.
I am glad I have been able to add this tool to make traveling easier and more affordable.