3 Advanced-Level Travel Hacking Tips We Learned at Frequent Traveler University

Wow. My head is still spinning after spending last weekend with those that are truly miles and points obsessed.

I had the privilege of attending my first Frequent Traveler University (FTU) this weekend at the Hyatt Regency DFW.

I have been “playing” the loyalty game for over four years now. So, it was an awesome experience to finally hobnob with some of the biggest bloggers in the community and also socialize with others who are as passionate as I am about reward points-based travel.

There was both a general session for those just getting into the hobby addiction, and an advanced session for the more seasoned. The speakers were great! With such a wide array of topics and breakout sessions ranging from the best award redemption strategies to unbelievable manufacturing spend techniques, I learned a ton.

And of course I wanted to share the 3 coolest tips with the PT Money Readers!

1. Bank of America Applications (Reports of Getting 4 of the Same Credit Cards in the Same Day)

I attended an awesome session with Greg from Frequent Miler. For those of you that don’t know, he is like the Lebron James of manufactured spend. Let me give you a quote from the talk that proves Greg’s prowess:

“When you get to the point when you earn more miles than you can spend, you have the ability to become irrational.”

What’s irrational when it comes to using points? Using 100k Alaskan miles just to say that you can shower in the sky in one of Emirates new 380’s? Overwater bungalows in the Maldives for free? Nope those are child’s play to Greg.

Try a redemption that comes in with a hefty price tag of 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic Miles. Yeah, that’s the going rate to hang out at Richard Branson’s private Necker Island (pictured below). Read more about this challenge.

Necker Island Room

But how do you even earn a million miles?

Well most of us in this game would start with signing up for multiple credit cards. That’s pretty obvious. Greg definitely did that. But he stretched the boundaries a bit further and applied for 4 of the exact same Bank of America Virgin Atlantic Cards on the exact same day. Guess what? He got approved…for all of them.

The best part is when he called the reconsideration line to get the apps pushed through, the customer service rep did not even ask him a single question about why anyone needs 4 of the same card!!

For us common folk who are not going to Necker Island, the real value here is now we know that multiple Bank of America cards (think also Alaskan Air) can be approved for the same person on the same day.

2. “Driving” for Lyft / Uber May Be Worth One of Your Saturdays

If I told you I could guarantee you would (legally!) earn at least $500 dollars in one Saturday, would you listen? I knew you would.

You probably have heard of Uber and Lyft by now and if not you should get some serious help for your Game of War dependence. Despite what the commercial may want you to believe, Kate Upton will never allow you to come play with her.

Because these two companies are slugging it out, and in the process going through VC money like it’s the Zimbabwe dollar in 2008, you can profit. They have been running multiple promotions to sign up new drivers over the last year via referrals from existing drivers. This part is important; you must get a code from an existing driver.

I know, I know, you have soccer practice on Saturdays and your kid is the next Cristiano Ronaldo. But hear me out. There are currently promotions in certain cities that are giving Lyft Drivers a double-sided bonus (both the person referring and the referral) of up to $500 for accomplishing 20 paid rides.

If you think carefully about this, it means that if you sign up, complete 20 rides and then refer someone who completes 20 rides you would earn $1,500. 10 new drivers and you’re talking about 10k+ in your pocket. Yes this sounds like a pyramid scheme. The difference is you won’t have boxes of life changing vitamins or age-defying skin crème in your garage for the next 2 years.

Now, I’ll let you think on your own about the 20 people that would love a ride from you and each of your 10 friends.

Uber has similar promotions but of late have been targeting existing Lyft drivers so I would sign up for Lyft first.

(h/t BengaliMilesGuru)

3. An Easy(er) Way to Get the Elusive Airport Gate Pass

We’ve all been there before. You are at ticketing and for whatever reason you need to get through to the other side. Maybe Grandma has a layover and you’d like to grab lunch. But since it takes her a whole episode of Golden Girls just to take her shoes off, there is no way she is going to have time to come to you.

And of course there is the impenetrable security behemoth, you know, the modern day Ft. Knox – affectionately known as TSA – standing in your way.

So how do you break on through to other side? The answer comes with your airline lounge access. It is a little known policy that both United Club and AA’s Admiral Lounge offer a way through security.

United is pretty simple, just walk up to the ticketing counter (I would suggest special services if available) and request a gate pass for you and any guests that are currently with you. Boom. You are in there like swimwear. If for any reason your agent is not in-the-know, tell them to reference GG Checkpoint, Line 65 (their internal computer system) for the official policy.

The Admirals Club route takes a little more planning but is no more difficult. Simply call 24 hours prior to airport arrival and request a gate pass for your “meeting” in the Admirals Club. You do NOT need to pay for a conference room for this privilege.

Remember, that you need a full Admirals club membership so your Citi Executive card should work but the Citi Prestige will not. Here is the official info from AA with the number to call and what info you will need.

These 3 nuggets are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what I learned at FTU. It really was a fun time. Considering going to FTU yourself? No matter what your knowledge level, you will come away with something valuable. I know I definitely came away with one new life goal: a shower in the sky.

This article was contributed by local travel hacker, Branson. If you’re looking for more of an intro into the travel hacking scene, be sure to review this post.

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  1. The multiple (identical) cards amazes me. It’s simply one of the things that most people wouldn’t even consider, but makes sharing the information so much more valuable.

    I was proud when my wife and I recently got Citi AAdvantage cards for 50K each, until a travel hacker I knew said that he and his wife got 4 cards each…

    Good stuff – thanks

  2. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says

    Wow, that’s impressive, I have trouble just hitting the spending requirements to get the bonus on one card at a time