Travel Hacking: 30 Minutes to Free Airfare?

Today I’m excited to share with you something that I’ve been anticipating for quite some time. In the past I wrote briefly about how we were able to get United to foot the bill for our airfare to Los Angeles by earning frequent flyer miles while at home.

The method I touched on was signing up for high mileage credit cards and then earning your rewards by using those cards for your everyday purchases (gas, groceries, etc.). While it is a solid method, there are two downsides. First, you have to find credit cards that are offering high mileage bonuses and second, you have to sign up for more and more credit cards if you want to continue to reap the maximum benefit.

Even though finding cards with big bonuses takes just a bit of legwork and having multiple credit cards doesn’t hurt your credit score like you would be lead to believe, you may not be a fan of getting more credit cards. I don’t blame you. I have a SlimSlimmy wallet, I only carry 1 credit card, my drivers license and a tiny bit of cash. I like simplicity and struggle a bit with the fight between “earn more miles” and “I don’t need another card.”

Making It Easy

Because in my mind simple is nearly always better, I’m extremely excited for the Travel Hacking Cartel (THC). There’s no question that I’m a big fan of Chris Guillebeau’s Frequent Flyer Master (FFM). It’s the resource where I learned the ins and outs of travel hacking (easily racking up frequent flyer miles), but the Travel Hacking Cartel takes the principles learned in FFM and kicks it up a notch by doing all the legwork for you.

Chris is already on top of the latest deals and tactics for getting the most miles possible; it’s the major tactic he uses to accomplish his goal of seeing every country in the world before he’s 35. With the Travel Hacking Cartel he’s sharing all that hard work with us. He spends the time finding the deals, we reap the benefits.

The more I heard about the Cartel the more excited I got because I am definitely a passive mileage earner. I never go out and actively seek new ways to earn major miles and I find that I typically just spend, using my mileage card of the moment, forget that I’m earning miles and then get all excited when I realize I can fly for free. Ya, I know it’s not the most efficient way for me to do it, but hey it’s worked so far!

But that’s what makes me so excited about the THC. Chris’ team finds the deals and then notifies the Cartel of exactly what to do to earn the, usually time sensitive, miles now. I’m honored to be one of the few people who were granted early access into the Cartel and I have to say, it makes earning simple. The doors opened today and if you follow the steps laid out for you on the deals that are already listed, you can earn 110,500 miles and Hilton Gold status. Already.

It’s Day 1 and you can already jump in and basically go from zero to hero on the mileage hacker scale. Granted, the bulk of those miles are earned through getting 2 new credit cards, but if that’s not your preferred method you can simply go with the non-credit card deals for now and still have quite a head start at becoming a mileage master, and surprisingly enough, that’s actually a guarantee. Chris promises that with 30 minutes of work per month you’ll earn 1 free plane ticket every 3 months. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And with an average of 25,000 miles required for a roundtrip domestic flight, if you take part in all of the current deals you can instantly earn 4 free plane tickets. Just wild.

Learning Curve

When I first had heard about the Cartel I was very excited, but at the same time a bit skeptical as to how far of a reach Chris would have with it. I mean, I own Frequent Flyer Master, I’ve read it cover to cover and understand miles, what it takes to earn them, what it takes to redeem them and how to value them (so I don’t get ripped off by buying miles). My concern though was that future hackers who join the Cartel wouldn’t have the solid foundational knowledge to truly understand what they were doing.

Well I should have known better than to question his plan because, beyond doing the legwork for you with deal alerts, Chris has setup an entire series of video tutorials on most of the topics discussed in FFM. I haven’t watched them all, but they do seem to be an efficient way to learn the fundamentals without purchasing Frequent Flyer Master.

I personally liked Frequent Flyer Master enough that I would hesitate to say that it’s no longer necessary because, to the contrary, it’s an excellent resource, but you can also quite easily jump into the Cartel and hit the ground running.

The Price To Play

Chris has made it a no-brainer when it comes to joining the Cartel. You can join and have a 14 day trial membership for just $1. After the trial there are 3 options for membership, of which the price points may sound a bit steep, until you realize all that you’re getting for the money. There will be Economy Class ($15/mo), Business Class ($25/mo) and First Class ($39/mo), but my suggestion is, even if you don’t plan on paying the monthly fee, splurge, join for the $1 trial and earn anywhere from 500 to 110,500 miles today and then cancel before your first payment.

But hey, who knows, maybe you’ll dig it like I do and want to stick around for a minimum of 4 free flights a year. Either way Chris isn’t pushy in any way so if you don’t feel like you get your money’s worth, he’ll either comp you months or work with you to make sure that you’re earning your full potential.

See You On The Inside

As full disclosure, I’m already a member of the Travel Hacking Cartel and plan on remaining so, but the early access that I was granted was a complimentary trial period since I’m one of just a few affiliates. So if you do choose to join, and remain a member beyond the trial period, and use one of the links on this site we will receive an affiliate commission. So with your membership you’ll be helping to support this site and our travels. So thanks! 🙂

Oh, there’s one more thing. Once you’re on the inside you’ll also benefit from referring new members. For every member that you refer you will earn 500 miles added into your account. Pretty sweet for promoting something that you truly believe in!

Well anyway, that’s all for today. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you in the air! 🙂

Are you in the Travel Hacking Cartel? Let us know in the comments.

2 responses to “Travel Hacking: 30 Minutes to Free Airfare?”

  1. Regev Avatar

    Thanks Jeff, useful information. Exactly what I was looking for.

    I will register in the next days using your afflink. You’ve earned it.

    1. Jeff Sarris Avatar

      Hey it’s a great program, happy to help! 🙂