How she did it: “My husband and I use our good credit ratings to get credit cards with sign-up bonuses. I got 150,000 miles alone when I signed up for two Citibank cards. While that deal is over, right now Chase Sapphire is offering 50,000 miles as sign-up bonus. I read the travel blog Million Mile Secrets, which always has the scoop on which cards are offering hotel points and frequent flyer miles for free.”
The fine print: “The credit cards all have a minimum spend, which varies from card to card, but we pay off the balance every month and only use the card for groceries, gas and routine payments. We benefit from managing our finances responsibly.”
How she did it: “I set up airfare e-mail ‘alerts’ using Farecompare, TripAdvisor and Kayak, and when the price drops, I buy our tickets. One month ago, I set up an alert for a flight to Lima, Peru which was about $1,000 when I first checked. Today I got an alert that the price has dropped to $800, so I’ll book.
The fine print: “It can be tricky to coordinate group travel, because you have to be ready to book at any time. If you hesitate, the rate may be lost.”
How she did it: “I became a member of the Fairmont President’s Club. You get a deal by e-mail each month, which was how I got five-nights in a junior suite at the Fairmont Willow Stream Spa and Resort (including breakfast and an in-room jacuzzi!) for $99/night. They also are very accommodating and will often give free upgrades.”
The fine print: None -- it’s free to sign up for their e-mails.
How she did it: “I booked a week-long trip to Disney for me and my two goddaughters including airfare, hotel, all meals, two snacks a day AND park admission through my through my local AAA travel. They research for you, get you the best packages and deals, and I’ve found the discounts are incredible. We did this package twice and the hotels offered were The Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Meals were excellent--you could eat at any of the restaurants in the park and it included a breakfast with the characters. Park passes were unlimited and even included special opening and closing hours since we were staying on park property. We went during the summer but the deal runs all year long.”
The fine print: AAA membership is $49.00 for the year.
How she did it: I used biddingfortravel.com to see what the going bids on Priceline were. The best rate via the hotel's website was $209 per night, on Priceline it was listed at $149 but after researching other bids on BiddingforTravel I named my own price and paid $45 per night for the room.”
The fine print: You’re relying on the testimonies from average Joes and Janes, so bidder beware. Otherwise, this site is genius!
How she did it: We have saved a bundle by booking European hotels through the “in-country” site vs. the U.S. sites. A few years ago, I wanted to stay at a Travelodge hotel near Kinross in Scotland. The price on the U.S. website was 50 pounds per night (about $100 at the time.) I found the same hotel for 25 pounds (about $50 at the time) when I cross-checked the price on the U.K. site.
The fine print: Language barriers could make this trick . . . tricky--make sure nothing gets “lost in translation” and you understand exactly what the rate is and what you are getting for that price.