This article was originally published on TiplrMag.com by Robert Coles. Download Tiplr here.
5 Secrets to Obtaining Diamond Status, Companion Passes, and Premium Features
I hate credit cards and absolutely refuse to sign up for one, but my lust for travel has always been present. I’ve often thought of signing up for cards for a quick 50,000 points to take a free flight, but for me the costs don’t outweigh the rewards. Now, before you go off on me and say it’s just about being responsible, I get it. But they’re not for me. So, I’ve spent the last few years figuring out the best ways to get all the airline miles I need every year to maintain status on two airlines, Delta and Southwest, without opening a single credit card.
Here are my top 5 tips for obtaining status and getting airline miles without obtaining credit card debt!
1. Mileage Boosters — Delta
This may sound crazy, and it’s not free, but it’s a great way to get that reward flight much faster. When you’re booking your flight, add in Mileage Boosters on Delta. They aren’t really that expensive when you spread it out over time per flight. For example, I’ve been trying to get my 2017 travel paid for in full and am adding a Mileage Booster to every flight for about $59 which adds 3,000 reward miles. Just tack on the purchase with your ticket and suddenly you’re earning the reward ticket over time without large purchases.
2. AirBNB Hosting
This one might sound even crazier, but it’s a great way to make money and earn points while you travel. If you sign up to host on AirBNB through Delta’s partnership website, you get an additional 25,000 miles on Delta. When I leave New York, I always list my room on AirBNB. I’m averaging about $140 a night (I live in Times Square), around $180 a night during peak seasons, and I’m paying for my trips with that income. Plus, you get points for every dollar you spend on AirBNB for your vacations.
3. Company Travel, Personal Mileage
I travel a lot for work. I’m a marketing consultant, I have clients all over the world, and I bill them for my travel expenses, to a reasonable amount. I book all my travel myself and choose my airlines and tickets. I send over a report of what I spent and why I spent it to ensure they know they aren’t getting billed for first class tickets. I use my own rewards accounts. I started this with Southwest Airlines for domestic travel and have earned my Companion Pass for 2017 and 2018 just through work travel. I’m seeking status on Southwest and Delta, so Delta is my airline for international travel.
4. Buy them from the airlines
If all else fails, buy the miles you need. This is helpful if you’re only a couple of thousand miles away from a vacation rewards flight. They aren’t exactly cheap, but spending a couple of hundred dollars to get the reward flight that would otherwise be a thousand dollars is worth it.
The passing of a loved one is always sad, but I am able to see the world now using my dad’s airline miles he saved for years. My dad passed away almost 7 years ago, and recently I was only 4,000 miles away from not paying for a single flight the second half of 2017, so I started asking friends and family if they would sell me their miles (better the money go to a family member and have them transfer than to Delta). Then, my mom texted me and told me I should contact Delta about my dad’s rewards points.
After spending almost 2 hours on the phone, and going through all the possible security questions and answers, I was able to get into his account and find a whopping 196,000 miles sitting in his Delta account. To transfer these to me would be about $2,000, but I’m able to go into his Delta account and book travel directly there for myself. 2017 is going to be a great year of seeing and exploring the world, thanks to my dad. I’m dedicating all my trips to him.
So, don’t take on credit cards to get your rewards travel. Use these methods to get where you want to go for less!
If you want more travel advice, check out my book, I Know Where I’ve Been: A Year Long Journey of Self-Discovery, where I recount traveling North and South America while working virtually for a year. You can purchase HERE.