Travel Hacking
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Thread: Travel Hacking

  1. #1
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    Travel Hacking

    So before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, this is "how to travel the world using travel rewards points from targeted credit card sign-up bonuses".

    I found on MMM a post that led me to richmondsavers. They had some really fantastic examples of thousands of dollars in free travel legally by first identifying the least amount of reward points required across multiple airlines and then figuring out which credit cards would have the best and most appropriate sign up bonuses.

    Unfortunately, it is US centric but I did notice a post at candiantravelhacking. Just thought we could have a nice place here to post tricks and tips.

    Myself, for example, when I book hotels, I start by using redflagdeals cash back link to hotels.com. RFD gives me 3% back on the value of what I book. Secondly, hotels.com gives me the cash average of the last ten nights I've booked through them as one free night to be used on a future booking. (So don't think you can book several trips totalling 10 nights at Motel 8 and get a free suite at the Ritz Carlton.) Finally, I pay for all of this using an aeroplan credit card. Triple dipping. I probably get somewhere around $300-$350 cash back, 6 free nights and 10,000 aeroplan points per year.

    I can't earn any hotel loyalty perks using this method, but my business travel makes it tough to focus on just one or two brands.


  2. #2
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    Our air travel is mostly domestic w/ occasional non. So our method involves Westjet deal email notices that we try to take advantage of.
    We check out the best online hotel prices and reviews through a few sites, choose one, but then still prefer to deal directly with the hotel desk and a name. We can't always get the lowest internet price obviously and if it is too far removed we revisit the choices.
    Everything then goes on one cash back visa card. We're 'KISS' people and not a fan of multiple cards. The math we did in the past and the limitations reported re/ booking with points didn't justify other cards from our perspective. Not sure if that has change materially so we may well be leaving some money on the table but its not material to our lifestyle. We're also old frogs, slower to learn new tricks.

  3. #3
    I signed up for the Capital One Aspire Travel World Mastercard about a week before they replaced it with a watered down, less lucrative version. So far so good. As a sign up bonus I got 35,000 reward miles (equal to $350) and my plan is to use it for the next trip. The annual fee is $120 but you get 10,000 (equal to $100) annually as well, so the net annual fee is $20 and 2 reward miles for every $1 spent....so 2% back on all spending. Ironically, this won't be the card I will use when travelling since they charge 2.5% currency conversion fee
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  5. #4
    Senior Member none's Avatar
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    My two favourtie travel 'hacks' are using the priceline permutation method:

    http://biddingfortravel.yuku.com/top...s#.VT_UbyG6e9I

    and booking rental cars through costco.

  6. #5
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    Funny, I was just trying to book a Toronto hotel tonight.

    I use a combination of hotels.ca/hotels.com, hotwire.com and priceline.com. I will only use hotwire/priceline for 3 star or higher. It goes something like this:

    I always start by surveying what's available on hotels.com. You should never pay more through hotwire or priceline than what you find there. That's rule #1. If the trip is very far in the future, I may just make a fully refundable reservation on hotels.com to ensure I have a decent room.

    Then I check hotwire because this is the low-effort way of making a cheap booking. I always look at total cost -- after fees -- when comparing hotel web sites. Next I go to priceline and "bid" on a hotel, adjusting my bid such that the total cost after fees is 10% to 50% cheaper than hotwire.

    In my experience, priceline isn't worth it unless you can save at least 10% versus hotwire. The reason is that hotwire does a better job at telling you what you're getting (e.g. free parking, free internet) and priceline is more of a mystery. Then again, priceline typically gives you a better quality hotel at the same star rating as hotwire.

    Beware the priceline bidding process because it's designed to hook the gambling/reward center of your brain, and make you want to bid higher than you logically should. Don't get carried away with it and watch your hotwire alternative and hotels.com-determined-ceiling. Hotwire is a quick method that often gives excellent prices, even if you don't bother with Priceline. I've found myself in a jam during some travels, where I really needed a hotel on short notice, and Hotwire is what saved the day. It's fast, too, and time is money.

    Currently for example I already have a refundable hotel booking for Toronto. I've placed a few priceline bids over the last few days and am already within 10% versus the best Hotwire option. It wouldn't make sense to bid much higher on Priceline. I will keep watching the Hotwire price as a benchmark, and will place more priceline bids but only at 10% (or more) below Hotwire.

    I run the risk that the decent Hotwire option I see today will disappear or the price will go up. If I didn't have so much time to waste on this process, I would just book the Hotwire option I see today which is $91/night for a 3.5 star downtown Toronto hotel, which is likely going to be a very nice hotel.

  7. #6
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    We use the Marriott Chase Visa card for all foreign travel and for ATM withdrawals (aka cash advance). It comes with a free room every year and points when you sign up. Just did a review of foreign Visa and ATM numbers. We saved in excess of $500 on FX fees over the past 12 months. We also had a free hotel night in Sydney,Australia ($300) and Vernon ($125). We pay a $100. fee for the card.

    We use Priceline, Hotwire, Wotif, Laterooms etc for hotels when we are not staying in B&B's or pensions. We have recently had some excellent prices directly for hotel chains...Accor and Marriott. No luck on BNB yet though.

    We are getting out of Aeroplan when our points are finished. But, when we travel we select a route that takes us through the US. Far fewer Aeroplan fees. For us that mean connecting in Chicago, Denver, or Houston instead of Toronto or Montreal. Our remaining points will be used for Calgary-Ft. McMurray (relatives) since the prices on that are a ripoff.

    For car rentals we typically end up with Costco in North America and autoeurope.ca outside of North America. But, a standard transmission is no issue of me. Automatics can be very expensive in Europe (not so much in the UK).

    For cruises we book inside the final payment window or at the last minute. Closest has been 6 days prior to sailing. Very large discounts. Because of the way we travel we often do one way air fares. There are deals to be had here outside of North America.

    We have a long bucket list. We pay attention to the currency fluctuations. When our dollar was high and the Euro was low we added a number of Med cruises to our Europe land tours since they were priced in USD. We always buy them from a US on line TA but we also check the overseas web sites. Delaying a three week trip to South Africa by one year saved us just over 10 percent simply because of the currency fluctuations.
    Last edited by fraser; 2015-04-29 at 11:13 AM.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Causalien's Avatar
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    I use foundrs card

  9. #8
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    Can’t afford a vacation? Just drink until you don’t know where you are …
    If money isn’t bringing you happiness, you aren’t spending it right …

  10. #9
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    If you sign up for the TD aeroplan infinite card through the link on Great Canadian Rebates, you get 15,000pts for sign up, then 10,000 when you spend $1000, no annual fee for the first year, AND a $50 cash back reward from Great Canadian Rebates. Just cancel it before the first year is up. There's usually one card that offers this signup deal every year, so you cycle through them and between you and your spouse, that's one free trip within north america every year.
    Sometimes they have referral bonuses too, so you sign up first, then refer your spouse.
    Last year it was the AMEX aeroplan platinum.

    Great Canadian Rebates has some decent rebates for travel websites. Priceline, travelocity and expedia are on there. It's usually a cash rebate of 1-4%.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by fraser View Post
    We use the Marriott Chase Visa card for all foreign travel and for ATM withdrawals (aka cash advance). It comes with a free room every year and points when you sign up. Just did a review of foreign Visa and ATM numbers. We saved in excess of $500 on FX fees over the past 12 months. We also had a free hotel night in Sydney,Australia ($300) and Vernon ($125). We pay a $100. fee for the card.

    We use Priceline, Hotwire, Wotif, Laterooms etc for hotels when we are not staying in B&B's or pensions. We have recently had some excellent prices directly for hotel chains...Accor and Marriott. No luck on BNB yet though.

    We are getting out of Aeroplan when our points are finished. But, when we travel we select a route that takes us through the US. Far fewer Aeroplan fees. For us that mean connecting in Chicago, Denver, or Houston instead of Toronto or Montreal. Our remaining points will be used for Calgary-Ft. McMurray (relatives) since the prices on that are a ripoff.

    For car rentals we typically end up with Costco in North America and autoeurope.ca outside of North America. But, a standard transmission is no issue of me. Automatics can be very expensive in Europe (not so much in the UK).

    For cruises we book inside the final payment window or at the last minute. Closest has been 6 days prior to sailing. Very large discounts. Because of the way we travel we often do one way air fares. There are deals to be had here outside of North America.

    We have a long bucket list. We pay attention to the currency fluctuations. When our dollar was high and the Euro was low we added a number of Med cruises to our Europe land tours since they were priced in USD. We always buy them from a US on line TA but we also check the overseas web sites. Delaying a three week trip to South Africa by one year saved us just over 10 percent simply because of the currency fluctuations.
    Some very good tips Fraser. I will second the Costco car rentals. Have had a lot of success. Renting a full size SUV for 6 days next week in the US for $239.43 USD all-in via Alamo booked through Costco.com (not .ca). Not that I need a Yukon but the rate was cheaper than a mid-size car! Have another rental booked for two weeks at Christmas when the rates are always very high and a full size car is $505 USD all-in. Through Travelocity that would be more like $1,200.

    We are done with Aeroplan as well just need to use up a couple hundred thousand points but damn its a pain.

    XIC, VTI, XEF, XSB/VAB/GIC LADDER (+ HISA for cash)

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