Home Travel ResourcesMoney Saving Tips How to Fly for Free: 6 Foolproof Hacks from a Travel Expert

How to Fly for Free: 6 Foolproof Hacks from a Travel Expert

by Michele
how to fly for free 6 hacks to live by
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While I’m pretty good at finding cheap ways to travel and using my favourite travel resources, the truth is, I’ve never got a free flight. Ever. Until today. Here’s how to fly for free!

Earn Avios travel rewards! (aka Air Miles)

Yup, those magical yet mysterious air miles that I accumulate when I make my annual trip back home to Australia, (but never knew what to do with let alone how to redeem them!), have just paid for a round trip for me and my partner to Paris next year!

Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before. Spend a tonne of money and eventually…maybe…you’ll fly for free.

For a long time. Actually. Since always, I thought the same way too! Until now.

All the buzzwords I’d heard over the years but could never piece together have started to fall into place. Oprah would call it an “ah-ha” moment. That’s exactly how it felt.

So, what happened?

Miles Mogul happened. More precisely, Nicky. The brains behind the operation.

On a freezing Wednesday evening, I attended Nicky’s two-hour event where air-travel-obsessed-Brit shared his biggest secrets on how to fly first class for free.

Well, almost for free.

But I’ll get to that later.

Miles Mogul is Nicky’s blog where he shares tips, real hacks, and strategies for building up enough air miles so you can fly for free, anywhere in the world.

All you need to do is set a goal and become smarter with how and where you spend your money.

After Nicky’s event, my eyes were opened up to a whole new world.

A world of #AVgeeks.

According to Urban Dictionary, the term AVGeeks describes “someone who has a love for planes/aircraft”.

In Nicky’s case, I’d say that’s a gross understatement! Obsessed, would be more appropriate. This AVgeek lives and breathes this stuff. Just check out Nicky’s Instagram to see his massive grin whenever he’s on a plane.

AVGeeks live for working the system which essentially allows them to travel for free.

How Do I Fly for Free?

Simple. Earn Avios points.

Think of Avios air miles as a currency. Avios points can be earned in a variety of ways, for example through online shopping, filling-up the car with fuel, or when you buy flights. Each purchase will earn you a certain amount of points.

Once you’re earned enough points, you can get all sorts of cool stuff including seating upgrades and flying for free.

How Do I Earn Avios Points Quickly?

As Miles Mogul puts it, there are the basic strategies, which anyone can implement without much effort, then there are the more advanced strategies.

Let’s get started with the basics.

Disclaimer: While the content of Nicky’s event was UK focused, the same principle applies if you’re based outside of this region, just look out for similar reward systems. This isn’t a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.

The Basics

1. Get a Credit Card
2. Sign up to Tesco Club Card
3. Use TopCashBack.co.uk (UK residents) or TopCashBack.com (USA residents)

Remember earlier how I said you will have to change how you spend your money? Well, that’s where things begin to pay off.

To earn Avios points, you will have to start making your hard earned cash work for you by spending it in the right places.

Places that will reward you with points.

I’m not saying spend more, I’m just saying spend it strategically.

Let’s look at these in a bit more detail.

1. Get a Credit Card

Whenever you buy something, use your credit card. Full stop.

However, one of the quickest ways to earn Avios points is by getting credit card sign-up bonuses.

You can easily earn 20,000 plus Avios from each card you get. One of the best credit cards to get is American Express Gold (UK) where you’ll earn 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and spending £2,000 within three months. These convert into 20,000 Avios points. The card is FREE for the first year and you can cancel at any time. You get even more Avios points if you’re in the USA.

Another option is British Airways American Express credit card, which is free. You’ll earn 9,000 Avios points for signing up and spending £1,000 within three months.

There are constant promotions on credit card bonuses, so I suggest you sign up for the newsletters at Miles Mogul and Head for Points.

2. Sign up to Tesco Club Card

Tesco is a major supermarket in Britain with a fantastic rewards system. We all need food, so do your weekly shop at Tesco.

By taking advantage of their special promotions you can earn extra Avios points. For the latest Tesco Clubcard bonus point offers, check out Shopper Points where you’ll find a list of current Tesco Direct promotions offering bonus Clubcard points.

3. Use TopCashBack

For everything else, use TopCashBack.co.uk (UK residents) or TopCashBack.com (USA residents).

TopCashback is a cashback site, which in a nutshell means that they receive a commission from the merchant for directing you to their website. Most cashback sites give just a portion of this back to you, but TopCashback gives you up to 105% of what retailers pay them. The extra 1-5% comes from advertising revenue and other services they provide on their website.

TopCashback has everything thing, from insurance policies to internet connections, and of course, travel.

When you make a purchase through their links, you earn a percentage back. Instead of taking this as cash, you to convert your earnings into Avios points. Every 1p of cashback you convert gives you 1.25 Avios points which is substantially cheaper than purchasing points from British Airways. You are only paying 0.8p per Avios point this way.

If you are not already a member, you can join TopCashback for free via this link.

Where Do I Keep all my Avios?

To earn and manage your Avios points, sign up to avios.com, British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus. They’re all FREE to join.

These will allow you to earn and spend Avios in different ways. You can move Avios points between the three schemes for free by using the ‘Combine My Avios’ function within each site.

It doesn’t matter which scheme your Avios points sit in, as you can move them around before you redeem.

Sign Up to Frequent Flyer Programs

There are two types of currency when it comes to earning points: One of them is the points earned from everyday purchases, and the other are from earning tier points from frequent flyer programs. The later is what got me my two return tickets to Paris.

I’ve always been an Emirates girl ever since I went on my first overseas trip and signed up to their Skywards scheme way back in 2006. Stupidly, I let my rewards expire each year. But since attending Nicky’s event, I’ve finally put them to good use!

While you may have already signed up for other frequent flyer programs, I encourage you to join one or several of the frequent flyer programs within the OneWorld network. Airlines include Qatar Airways, Finnair, British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas and AirBerlin just to name a few. By travelling with these airlines you’ll be able to earn, merge and redeem your points easily.

STA Alliance is another network of airlines to follow.

How Do I Manage All My Avios Points?

You’re going to have a lot of accounts, so to keep on track sign up to Award Wallet. It’s free! Any awards system you’re on, just add it to your account. In one glance you’ll be able to see how many points you have, what tier you’re on, and when your points are set to expire.

Advanced Strategies

If you’re looking to up your game, then here are three advanced strategies that will help you earn even more Avios points.

I’m not gonna lie, this will require more effort and some careful planning. So, be smart and keep a record of your ROI (Return on Investment) in a spreadsheet.

This is the level that Nicky plays at, which can get quite complex. For more information, then head over to themilesmogul.com.

Basically, you need to:

1. Earn Higher Status
2. Churning your Credit Cards
3. Follow the Experts

Here’s what it looks like.

1. Earn Higher Status

Earlier I mentioned the different currencies you’ll need to earn points in, in order to travel for free. There are those that come from spending money on everyday items, then there are those that can only be earned by flying. These points are the ones that appear in frequent flyer programs.

There are usually four tiers of a frequent flyer program. For example, British Airways has Blue, Bronze, Silver, Gold.

Blue level membership is attained as soon as you join the club, with limited access to offers. Once you reach Silver (600 Tier points), you’ll see a real difference in benefits that will improve your travel experience.You’ll start to earn Avios points twice as fast, which means

You’ll start to earn Avios points twice as fast, which means there are a bunch of rewards within easy reach. You’ll have privileges such as business class check-in and fast-track security, access to British Airways lounges, and an increased checked baggage allowance.

Pro Hack Tip: To fast-track earning more status, experts such as Nicky, do what’s called a ‘tier run’. Where essentially you fly for the sake of earning miles. By flying certain routes during a particular period you can jump up to two tiers in one weekend. This is where careful planning is needed. For more info, use this forum on FlyerTalk, and also check out their premium fare deals thread.

2. Churning your Credit Cards

Credit card churning is where you sign up for the sake of getting the bonus Avios points then, cancel the card, then sign up again. Rinse and repeat.

Some companies also offer a referral scheme with bonus Avios points.

So, if you sign up, refer a friend, they sign up, you cancel, your friend refers you and so on. You can see how easily it is to accumulate a lot of Avios.

Even though there’s been a big crack down on this sort of behaviour, it’s still possible to earn a lot of points without too much effort.

At the moment only American Express will let you do this. The only downside is you have to wait six months before you can reapply.

British Airways American Express card has a 2-4-1 offer when you spend £10,000 within 12 months.

And last but not least…

3. Follow the Experts

There is a massive community dedicated to this stuff, here are the top sites to follow to stay informed.

  • Flyertalk – Check this daily. Join the forum to have all your burning questions answered.
  • Google  ‘[search term] + flyertalk’ to find the right forum thread
  • One Mile at a Time
  • Boarding Area
  • Where to Credit – A comparison site showing you the number of miles you earn on any frequent flyer program.
  • View from the Wing – A blog focusing on miles, points, and cash back
  • Head for Points – Sign up for newsletter
  • Secret Flying – Check daily for some crazy cheap deals on flights
  • Award Wallet – Track all your awards accounts in one place for free.
  • Google Flights – Use the map feature to find cheap locations and the calendar to see prices change over periods
  • ITA Matrix – A fare builder tool for creating tier runs. It generates a code to give to a travel agent to book for you
  • Miles Mogul – Follow Miles YouTube channel to see what he gets up too during his travels

One final tip. The key to getting the VIP experience on your next holiday is to plan ahead. Nowadays, even economy passengers can get into airport lounges for about $40 per person. For example, Heathrow’s No 1 Traveller has showers, nap pods and truffled mac ‘n’ cheese on their menu! I’m a member of  Priority Pass which gives me access to more than 1,000 lounges across the world, regardless of my airline or cabin class. Click here to get 10% off your membership.

Planning a trip and need travel insurance? Get a free quote from World Nomads here.

Want more travel tips? Don’t miss these

Over to you!

Have you ever travelled for free? What perks have you received from your Avios points? How do you fly for free?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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Basil Pereira December 8, 2016 - 14:29

Thanks for all this info. Sky Team is also good. It’s AirFrance, KLM, Delta and many others. Will start to implement some of these tips. I’ve lost too many points in the past just because I didn’t know how it all worked. Enjoy your Paris trip. Looking forward to your next article.

Michele January 15, 2017 - 13:19

My pleasure, Basil. It does require you to rethink how and where you spend your money and changing a few habits, but ultimately it’s worth it. Let me know how you get on.


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