5 Easy Ways to Get Free Flights and Hotel Rooms


By Debra Schroeder

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Debra Schroeder shares tips on getting free flights and hotel rooms. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker, PodBean, or SoundCloud.

Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are five easy ways to get free flights and hotel rooms.

Sign Up for Airline and Hotel Rewards Programs
Before you can get free flights and free hotel rooms, you have to sign up for the airline and hotel loyalty program. Joining these programs are free and it only takes a few minutes.

Here’s a list of the largest US airline and hotel programs:

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

American Airlines AAdvantage

Delta SkyMiles

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

United MileagePlus

Hilton Honors

IHG Rewards Club

Marriott Bonvoy

World of Hyatt

Rather than enrolling in every airline and hotel loyalty program choose the programs you’re going to use first. After joining, you’ll earn airline miles for every flight and hotel points from every hotel stay. These miles and points add up and over time you’ll have enough for free flights and hotel rooms. All the airlines listed above with the exception of Southwest participate in airline alliance programs which allow you to use miles earned from one airline on another airline.

You can use American Airlines miles to fly on Alaska Airlines and vice versa. Airline alliances also include international airlines. I’ve used American Airlines to fly on Qantas to Australia and on Cathay Pacific to fly to Hong Kong.

United partners include Swiss and Lufthansa. Your MileagePlus miles can get you free flights on Lufthansa.

Pro-tip: Check the airline or hotel website before enrolling for any new member bonus mile or point promotions.

  • Alaska Airlines First Class
    Alaska Airlines First Class

Take Advantage of Free Nights
Some hotel loyalty programs give you an extra free night when you use your hotel points. On stays of five nights or more at Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, your fifth night is free when redeeming points. IHG Rewards Club gives you the fourth night free on point stays of four nights or more. There’s no limit to the number of times you can use the free night benefit. Hilton allows you up to four free nights per stay.
Pro-tip: Watch for free night promotions. You can also get free nights on paid stays. Some hotels offer pay 2 nights, get the third free, stay three nights, get the fourth free, etc.

Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card
A common complaint and why so many people either don’t enroll in loyalty programs is that it can take a while to earn enough miles and points for a free flight or hotel room. But it doesn’t have to. You can earn a free flight and/or free hotel nights when you sign up for a travel rewards credit card.

Some cards offer huge signup bonuses that can you get not just one free flight but two and free hotel rooms. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a 60,000 point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the card. With this one signup bonus that’s enough points for a free trip to Hawaii.

Pro-tip: If you can travel in the off-season, your miles and points will go further. Award charts have off-peak, peak, and standard pricing. Airline tickets and hotel rooms during the summer, holidays, and other peak travel times cost more. That same flight during the fall costs half the price of a summer flight. The same is true for hotel rooms.

Plan Where You Want to Travel
Signup bonuses change frequently. The largest bonuses are limited-time offers. Planning where you want to go will help you capitalize on these offers at the right time.

Earlier this year the Southwest Companion Pass was included in the signup bonus for all three of the Southwest personal credit cards. The Southwest Companion Pass allows your companion unlimited free flights on Southwest when flying a Companion Pass holder. Southwest flies to many cities in the US, including Hawaii, and to other countries like Mexico and parts of the Caribbean.

When you have a travel goal, you can plan your trip to include what miles and points you need to get you there for free.

Use Your Travel Rewards Card
Using your travel rewards card for your purchases can earn free flights and free hotel rooms. Instead of using a debit card or check, pay with your credit card.

Some cards offer bonus points for certain purchases like groceries, gas, utilities, and travel. Paying with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express and earning 3% cashback at US gas stations takes away some of the sting of high gas prices.

Use Partner Programs
You can earn airline miles and hotel points when you use partner programs such as rental cars, dining, and online shopping. Earn airline miles or hotel points on car rentals when you add your airline frequent flyer number or hotel loyalty number to the reservation. In addition to earning miles or points, you can also save money on your rental when using specific discount codes.

Going out to eat will also earn airline miles through the airline dining programs. You can earn up to 5 miles per $1 including tax and tips at participating restaurants.

A little online shopping can earn enough miles for an airline ticket. Participating online retailers offer up to 23 miles per $1 on purchases. Some retailers offer a fixed amount of miles for any purchase regardless of the amount.

This is just five of the many ways to get free flights and free hotel rooms. With a little effort and creative thinking, you can travel the world for free.

Debra Schroeder became obsessed with finding creative ways to earn miles and points after earning thousands of miles from a trip to Tahiti and Australia with her husband in 1994.

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive turned award winning San Diego based travel writer and content creator of https://www.travelingwellforless.com. She has traveled to 48 countries on 5 continents. Debra loves adventure, finding the overlooked spots in every city, and specializing in value luxury travel. Her specialty is the intersection of travel and personal finance. Debra has been featured in Money, Discover, Creditcards.com, Credit Card Reviews, and Credit Karma.



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About the Author:

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive turned award winning San Diego based travel writer and content creator of https://www.travelingwellforless.com.

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