How to Score a $54k Trip Around the World … for Free

A bona fide points hacker spills the dirt

June 26, 2017 9:00 am

Four people flying business class for six months across five continents sounds, in a word, expensive.

Unless you’re travel hacker Grace Cheng, in which case it is free, according to an interview with Forbes.

So how’d she do it?

To score their quartet of round-the-world seats in business class, Cheng and her husband Pedro Pia redeemed 960,000 miles that they had acquired through credit card purchases via Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer program, KrisFlyer.

“It was a surreal moment when we exchanged our miles for something that was worth $54,000,“ Cheng said. “When we booked our RTW flights with Singapore Airlines, their customer service representative actually told us that we had ‘hit the jackpot’ as she had never encountered anyone redeeming RTW award tickets in business class before, let alone for four people.”

Want to pull off a similar feat? Here are five things Cheng says you should do:

  1. Whether it’s an apple or an automobile, always pay with a credit card when that’s an option. Cash is convenient at times, but it won’t ever earn you rewards points.
  2. Make sure the card you are using allows you to redeem the rewards you earn on your terms. Not all miles can be used with all airlines, and some require you to book via specific sites.
  3. Since certain cards offer better rewards for specific purchases (gas, groceries, etc.), have multiple cards on hand and make sure you use the one that earns the best possible reward.
  4. Look for signing bonuses that net you points or miles and take advantage of them. However, bear in mind some require a certain amount of spending to vest, so plan accordingly.
  5. Sign up for deals mailing lists like The Flight Deal and Holiday Pirates and pay attention.

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