Tired of flying cattle class? There is a special feeling that you get when you enter an airplane and instead of turning right, you turn left to first class or business class and experience the many perks that come with it.
As you will discover, you don’t have to pay a whack to get that free first class seat. With some travel hacks and a little bit of initiative on your side, you will find yourself winning a free first class seat more often than you probably deserve.
Many frequent flyers know that being promoted to a first class seat happens less often than it used to in the past but it is still real a possibility. At least 20% of travellers have been given a free or low cost upgrade to first class. That is a high probability that you will obviously hack if you master and practice some of the strategies that we will reveal in this article. Some of it will have to do with learning some insider tricks and etiquette but a lot of it is mostly due to travel credit card hacking. Choose the right credit cards, hit your spending limits and use it in the right places and you will always have points to redeem free first class flights. Do it well and you will find yourself flying first class a lot more often without paying anything.
Winning Free Flights
Scoring free flights is not a matter of dumb luck. There is a small community of expert travel hackers who almost always travel for free. For most travellers, the way to win yourself that free first class ticket is by collecting lots of frequent flyer miles and then redeeming these in the future against a free flight upgrade. The problem is that unless you are a prolific flyer, accumulating these miles will take years and if your frequent flyer miles expire after a period of time, say three years, they will be practically obsolete before you get a chance to redeem them. Accumulating miles by flying is a painstaking process.
One strategy that you can use to accumulate plenty of miles without flying so that you can redeem those free first class flights is via credit card hacking.
Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses
Take advantage of the credit card sign up bonuses to accumulate as many miles as possible within a very short period of time. This is possible because of the competitive nature of the credit card market. There are many of them and they are all competing for your business. To attract customers, they offer huge sign up bonuses so that you can join their programs. This is where your travel hacking antennas should be activated so you can make the most of these sign up bonuses.
There are travel hackers who have been able to rack up as many as a million miles through credit card hacking but you have to do it with some skill and diligence so as to meet those spending limits without getting buried deep in a mountain of credit card fees.
This strategy is also called credit card churning. You can sign up for one card after another and collect as many of those sign up bonuses as possible by spending the minimum amount that is required to unlock the bonuses. You don’t have to go on a spending spree of luxury goods and get buried in a mountain of debt. You can spend your credit card in clever ways that still leave you with cash for future use such as by spending money on microlending schemes or even buying gift cards for future use. Some of the credit card churners juggle up to 10 to 15 credit cards simultaneously!
The key to success with credit card hacking is to start small with one or two credit cards and then gradually build your credit card cache and collect the generous sign up bonuses. In less than three years, you will have accrued hundreds of thousands if not millions of miles that you can subsequently use to win first class award flights.
Travel Credit Cards in Canada With the Most Generous Sign Up Bonuses
If you want to score free first class flights in Canada and the US through credit card churning, you will need to use the following credit cards:-
AMEX Gold Rewards Card
This is one of the best travel credit cards for Canadian flyers. As a card member, you will earn a sign up bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards after spending $1500 within three months after sign up. For every single dollar that you spend with this card on eligible purchases, you will earn 2 points. You can use this for both travel as well as everyday expenses.
You can transfer the points you earn with the Amex Gold Rewards Card to Aeroplan, Avios and other frequent flyer programs such as Asia Miles, Starwood Preferred Guest, Etihad Guest and Delta SkyMiles etc. For Avios and Aeroplan programs, the transfer is one-to-one. The card can be charged for all eligible purchases which can subsequently be redeemed for statement credit. It also comes with a free supplementary card that you can use to accumulate points faster.
Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards when you hit the minimum spending limit of $1500. This is worth $250 in statement credit. The first year is free although the card carries a $150 annual membership fee. It offers you a 1:1 transfer with Avios and Aeroplan which is perfect for travellers accruing Aeroplan rewards.
Chase Marriott Rewards Premium Visa Card
This is another travel credit card that you can use to accumulate rewards and redeem for free first class flights. The Chase Marriott Rewards Premium Visa offers plenty of generous rewards. You will earn 30,000 miles when you make your first purchase with this credit card and you don’t have to grapple with foreign currency transaction fees as only the exchange rate is charged.
For every dollar that you spend at any Marriott location, you will earn 5 points. Given that there are more than 3700 participating Marriott locations globally, the opportunities to earn with this card are simply endless.
If you buy tickets directly with the airline using this Visa card or use it to directly book at car rental agencies or to pay for your dining, you will earn 2 points for every dollar spent. You also earn a point for every dollar spent on every other purchase.
Every year on your card anniversary, you will earn 15 Elite Credits that will go towards your Elite membership tier. With this, you are guaranteed of at least a Silver Elite status or more.
Cardholders also earn a single free night stay per year. This offer is valid for a duration of 6 months for Category 1 to 5. That is a free night simply for being a member of the Marriott’s Rewards Premier Visa Card!
You earn 30,000 points simply for making your first purchase! There are no minimum spending limits that are imposed on you. While the first year is free, you will pay an annual credit card fee of $120 from the second year onwards. The card also carries an annual interest rate of 19.99%. Transfer partners are Aeroplan and the Starwood Preferred Guest so this is a great option for the Canadian traveller.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Credit Card
The AMEX Business Gold Card also carries a welcome bonus of 30,000 welcome bonus points. With this card, you can earn a single point for every $1 that you spend on eligible purchases from three Canadian merchants that you can pick from the list provided on the website. Thanks to these generous rewards, it is possible for you to accumulate up to 250,0p00 extra points every calendar year.
You can also use your Amex points on your purchases by simply charging all the eligible purchases on your card then logging in and redeeming your Membership Reward points for the statement credits. You can use it for all your regular business purchases such as when you buy lunch or dinner for your client or even purchase new office equipment for your office makeover. The Membership Reward points can also be used on purchases such as car rentals, hotels, cruises, vacation packages and many more.
You will earn the AMEX Business Gold Card welcome bonus of 30,000 when you hit a spending limit of $5000 within the first three months of your card membership. These points can be redeemed for up to $300 in statement credits that can then be used in offsetting any eligible purchases charged on your card.
There are other perks. For example, when you refer a family member who owns a business, you will earn 10,000 bonus Membership Reward points. The maximum Membership Rewards that you can earn annually is 150,000 Membership Reward points.
You can convert your businesses expenses into membership reward points and use these in treating your special clients, yourself or rewarding your employees. The points can also be transferred easily to a host of loyalty programs and frequent flyer programs at no charge. With Avios and Aeroplan, you can exchange the your points at a ratio of 1:1. With just 25,000 point accrued on membership card, you can take a round trip in North America.
The points can also be used with a variety of gift cards as well as on various kinds of merchandise. You can also use the AMEX Business Gold points to dine and shop with various retailers including Home Depot and Bon Appetit among others.
Alaska Mileage Plan
With the Alaska Mileage Plan, you will earn 25,000 bonus miles when you make your first purchase using your Alaska Mileage Plan MasterCard. For every $1 spent on an eligible purchase, you will earn a single bonus mile. When you purchase Alaska Airlines tickets, make in-flight purchases or buy Alaska Airlines vacation packages, you will earn 3 bonus miles for every $1 that you spent. The Alaska miles can be redeemed in more than 700 destinations globally. Another perk is a $121 annual companion fair that includes a $99 base fare as well as a $22 for fees and taxes.
The Alaska Mileage plan still ranks is one of the best vehicles through which you can accrue miles and redeem for a free first class flight. With 25,000 bonus miles, companion fares and lots of opportunities to earn miles, you can easily accrue your rewards and redeem them on North American and global flights. The card has an annual fee of $75.
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card
With the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card, you can collect Avios miles on everything that you purchase using your card. Once your card is approved, you will get a welcome bonus of 15,000 Avios miles.
The card enables you to collect Avios points everywhere you go. For every $1 CAD spent, you will earn 2 Avios that you can redeem with British Airways for free first class flights. For expenditure elsewhere using the same card, you will earn 1 Avios for every $1 CAD spent.
With the RBC British Airways, you will easily transform your everyday card expenditures into savings that can be used in the future to save money on flights not only with BA but also with one oneword airline partners. You can also part pay with your Avios so as to reduce the price of your flights.
Earn a welcome bonus of 15,000 Avios once your card application has been approved. For every $1 CAD spent on qualifying net purchases, you earn a single Avios. When you book British Airways flights or BA Holidays packages, you will earn double the Avios miles for every $1 CAD spent. When you spend $30,000 CAD annually with your card, you will also earn a companion voucher. New members will get an automatic enrollment into the Executive Club.
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
This is one of the most lucrative Aeroplan credit cards with a welcome bonus of 40,000 Aeroplan Miles but you need to rush as the offer is currently only available until March 5, 2017. With the first purchase that you make with the card, you will earn 25,000 Aeroplan Miles as welcome bonus. There are additional 5,000 Aeroplan Miles to be earned when you keep your credit account active for duration of 90 days after the approval and finally, you will earn 10,000 miles if you add an Authorized User to your credit account by March 5, 2017. The user that you will add to your account has to call and activate their account by March 31st, 2017 in order for this bonus to be valid.
There are many other benefits that you will unlock with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card such as a complimentary first-checked bag as well as a priority check-in and boarding for card members.
There are four annual one-time Guest Access Benefits that will offer you access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge whenever you use your Aeroplan miles for Aeroplan flight rewards. Get up to 50% in discounts on comparison tickets once a year whenever you buy the eligible Air Canada Business Class fares. Another perk with this card is a complimentary Priority Pass membership that includes six free lounge visits every year for you and those you are travelling with.
The main perk with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card are the 40,000 Aeroplan miles welcome bonus. The card has an annual fee of $399 and authorized user fee of $99. The minimum credit limit with this credit card is $10,000 and interest is 19.99%. To be eligible, you must be earning $200,000 gross annual household income.
American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum
With 50,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan miles, this is also one of the most lucrative travel credit cards. You will unlock the bonus after spending $3000 within the first three months after opening your account. This offer is only valid until March 29, 2017.
For every $1 that you spend on your purchases, you will earn $1.25 Aeroplan miles for an annual expenditure of up to $25,000. For annual purchases of over $25,000, you can accelerate your earnings to up 1.5 Aeroplan miles for every $1 spent. There is a referral bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan Miles for all approved referrals as well as access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. With the Air Canada Priority Check-in, you will easily breeze through the airports for maximum travel convenience.
The card costs $499 annually while the supplementary cards cost $199 annually. The American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum comes with a sign up bonus of 50,000 Aeroplan Miles on spending $3000 within the first three months of your cardmembership.
CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card
This card, issued by CIBC Bank, carries a Welcome Bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan Miles. For every dollar that is spent with your card, you will earn a single Aeroplan Mile. The rewards are even better if you use your card on drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations as well as any other purchases that you make on aircanada.com apart from the Air Canada Vacation packages. You can use the Aeroplan Miles accrued to win a free first class flight and also cover additional travel costs such as the airline surcharges, fees and taxes as the charges associated with your ticket.
There are more premium travel benefits that you will be able to unlock such as Priority Airport Services, Maple Leaf Airport Lounge Access, and luxury hotel rewards among others.
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan Miles on Sign up and earn for every purchase made. The annual fee for the card is $120 and the annual interest rate on purchases is 19.99%.
|Credit Card||Welcome Bonus||Annual Fee||Minimum Income|
|CIBC Aerogold Infinite||15,000 Miles||$120||$60,000|
|TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite||25,000 Miles||$120, First year free||$60,00|
|American Express AeroplanPlus Gold||15,0000 Miles||$120||$20,000|
|American Express Gold Rewards||25,000 Miles||$150, First Year Free||$20,000|
|American Express Aeroplan Platinum||40,000 Miles||$499||$40,000|
|TD Aeroplan Privilege||50,000 Miles||$399||$200,000|
Here are some tips to keep in mind when travel hacking with your credit cards:-
One of the best ways to maximize on your airline rewards and win a first class seat is by staying loyal to a single airline. Make sure you join the airline’s frequent flyer program and begin racking up the miles. When an airline is generally oversold, the reserve the first class upgrades to the most loyal customers. If you are a frequent flyer with a particular airline, you will be given priority.
Check if the seatbelt is ok
Sometimes, you might find yourself being given a flight upgrade if the seatbelt is broken and there is no other seat in the Economy. Check your seatbelt and if it is broken, alert the cabin crew once everyone has settled down. It might just be your lucky day if the flight is packed.
Flying is no longer what it used to be in the 50s and 60s. You don’t have to overdress just for flight. But being shaggy and asking for a free flight upgrade to first class may not help your case. A good way to dress when you know you are going to ask for a flight upgrade is smart casual.
With most travellers now booking online, few care to go to the check-in desk and ask for a flight upgrade to first class. The simple fact is that if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. The fact more people are booking online and not asking for an upgrade also improves your chances of earning a free upgrade.