Scott Keyes is something of an expert at travelling on the cheap.
Using a collection of credit cards to gain frequent flyer miles, and other member perks, he can pull off a trip that will take him 20,000 miles on 20 flights – for free.
Keyes recently did an AMA [‘Ask me anything’] on Reddit where he distributed pearls of wisdom to anyone who asked. Here are his three best tips.
1) On whether there’s a ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to the time you book your flight
"It varies by what kind of trip you're looking at.
Rule #1 though it's best to wait until your plans are firm to book because otherwise the penalties will get you
Here's my basic breakdown:
• Normal domestic flights: 1-3 months in advance
• Normal international flights: 4-6 months in advance
• Any peak holiday flights (Thanksgiving, Xmas, NYE, etc.): 6-12 months
Within those time frames, I like to book when I find a cheap flight that works with my schedule. Booking any earlier, though, especially for normal domestic flights, runs the risk of missing a good future sale/mistake fare."
2) On planning an international flight in advance
"For an international flight that's not over the summer or a peak holiday like NYE or Christmas, I recommend 4-6 months in advance. Any longer than that and you risk missing out on a great deal closer in.
For peak holidays and summer though, basically any time you see a good price 6-12 months out."
3) On finding the right deals
"When I was starting out I (shamefully in retrospect) made a big error and violated one of my current cardinal rules of only signing up for [air]miles credit cards that offer at least 50k. I quickly learned though by reading travel blogs which cards are good and which offers to wait on.
It can definitely be overwhelming though, and it's a hobby that is most compatible with people who are pretty organized and like keeping track of things.
For that I like to keep a spreadsheet to show which cards I've opened, when, what the spending threshold is, if I've met it, if I've received the bonus, and when to cancel it by.
For keeping your credit score high, the main piece of advice is just to treat a credit card like a debit card, only spend money that you actually have, and pay off your balance in full every month.
If you do that, your credit score will take care of itself and be in the high 700s, if not higher."