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Credit card churning requires patience, organization and research. There are several free tools out there that can help you with all three of these components that will allow for you to become an efficient churner.
Along with credit card churning, I like to pair up credit card manufactured spending to maximize my rewards points on a monthly basis. When you combine credit card churning and manufactured spending together, you have the ability to earn massive amounts of free travel for little to no cost at all. Here are the free tools to book award travel and use in credit card churning to ensure success in your next adventure.
5 Powerful and FREE Tools to Book Award Travel and Use in Credit Card Churning
Being a credit card churner takes time and effort. Therefore, you need to use the best tools to ensure you are equipped for success. Credit card churning is always changing. In addition, credit card manufactured spending is changing in real-time as we speak.
Changes to different rules and guidelines mean that you need to have the best resources in front of you on a daily basis.
What is credit card churning?
Credit card churning is the act of repeatedly opening and closing credit cards so that you can earn the sign-up bonuses over and over. If you’re able to do this with several cards it will allow you to build up many more rewards than using just one card. We’ve built a guide to help you understand the basics of credit card churning.
What is credit card manufactured spending?
Credit card manufactured spending can be summarized as a credit card technique where you spend money in ways that allow you to get the money back as cash. I like to minimize my amount of cost to obtain the rewards as much as possible. For example, for a data point, I just liquidated a Vanilla One gift card purchased at Walgreen’s for the Chase Freedom 5% cash back category.
I went to my local grocery store and liquidated the gift card by purchasing a money order with the gift card. The local grocery store uses MoneyGram services for money orders.
The cost was $0.79 to purchase the money order and the fee for purchasing the gift card was $5.95. For $500 of manufactured spending, I was able to generate $25 in cash back rewards for a fee of $6.74 in total. I am fine with that. Time to go do it again!
What tools can you use to book award travel and credit card churning?
Having a number of different travel rewards programs and accounts is not easy. It’s actually a bit stressful at times. I hate knowing that there are times where I stayed at a hotel and my REWARDS POINTS WERE NOT CONNECTED TO MY STAY.
Nothing hurts more than missing out on free points for no reason. What can you do to stay organized?
Or… if you have a bunch of points spread out among different travel programs with different transfer options, preferred programs, points multipliers, etc. How do you book the best trip to optimize your awards points!?
There are a number of tools that can be used to book award travel and in credit card churning, but not all of them are all that effective. These are my favorite free tools to use in credit card churning, manufactured spending and to book award travel. Booking award travel is key for freelancer nomads.
My Free Travel Hacking Spreadsheet Template
Well the first tool that is a must-have is my travel hacking spreadsheet that is completely free to download. My travel hacking spreadsheet includes:
- Credit card churning tracker
- Manufactured spending tracking
- Hard pull credit inquiries
Read more about the spreadsheet in our credit card tracker overview.
Want to track your travel better? These five tools are the best ways to book award travel.
First Tool to Use to Track Rewards Points: AwardWallet
AwardWallet is an unbelievable solution to a huge pet peeve of mine. Losing passwords and not keeping my travel schedule in order. AwardWallet does both.
AwardWallet provides both a free service and a premium service to manage your reward balances and travel itineraries.
They currently support 672 loyalty rewards programs so they will likely have your program of choice! Unfortunately, AwardWallet does not currently support Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards.
I’ve loved my companion pass thus far, but I keep forgetting about it in my rewards account snapshot. In addition, they have a mobile app that will help you travel on the go!
With AwardWallet you can simply add all of your rewards programs into one consolidated dashboard whether that be for airfare, hotels, credit cards, shopping, rental cars and more.
AwardWallet Simply does it all. The free version will track your points like Mint or Personal Capital does.
For example here is an example of all my accounts with rewards programs. I currently have 580,982 total points (excluding my ~100,000 of Southwest Rapid Rewards points).
I am about halfway to a million aggregate points. I likely won’t get there because I continue to use my points while filling them up at the same time. That’s fine by me.
If you’d like, AwardWallet has a referral program that if you use my link you will receive a free upgrade. Totally up to you!
Second Tool to Find the Best Travel Redemptions: r/AwardTravel Subreddit
When all else fails talk to the Redditors. I love the Award Travel subreddit. There are some really travel savvy Redditors out there that will help you find the best way to use all of your award travel points.
If you have a number of different accounts and need help managing all of your options, there is no better way than to hop in the Award Travel subreddit.
Ask a few questions to think about the best way to get to a destination. Take a breeze through the number of Award Travel subreddit guides to educate yourself on all the transfer programs offered by airlines.
Third Tool to Use to Find Cheap Flights: Scott’s Cheap Flights
I wrote about Scott’s Cheap Flights in my post about cheap places to travel to in 2018. Airfare and lodging largely makes up the majority of your expenses when you travel. If you are like me where you are agnostic to where you travel to, then you will absolutely love Scott’s Cheap Flights.
All you have to do is subscribe to their mailing list and you will get instant cheap flight updates directly to your inbox. In fact, Scott’s Cheap flights actually provides me with ideas for my travel experiences.
How does Scott’s Cheap Flights help me with booking award travel? Well, airfare prices are generally correlated with miles required to book a flight. If a flight is cheap, there is a good chance that the redemption value is pretty low to redeem miles. When you go to book the flight, just switch it over to points in the search of the airline of your choice.
Also, I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card which allows me to book travel directly through their Ultimate Rewards portal at 1.5x the value of my points.
I can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book a cheap priced flight that I found via Scott’s Cheap Flights. The best part of this is that I am not redeeming airfare miles, so when I take the trip I will still earn miles for the flight.
Fourth Tool to Use to Book Award Flights: AwardHacker
AwardHacker is phenomenal. The dashboard is simple and easy to use. Just type in your from destination and your to destination like you would on your favorite airline.
With a simple airfare search, I can see what are my best options to a certain destination using a variety of travel programs such as Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Points and Starwood Preferred Guest.
Step one to use AwardHacker input your ‘from’ destination and your ‘to’ destination:
Step two to use AwardHacker view you options. Our example shows New York as a ‘from’ destination and Paris as a ‘to’ destination
A couple of deficiencies come to mind with AwardHacker that I’d like to see them implement:
- No ability to add in dates to your award travel flights
- Airfare only with no ability to search with hotel rewards points
For the hotel reward points, that gets me to my last tool!
Fifth Tool to Use to Book Award Hotel Stays: Award Mapper
Award Mapper acts as a whiteboard for your travel plans for hotels. You can literally enter any destination and visualize what hotels are in certain destinations. It’s a great way to organize your hotel travel plans efficiently and effectively.
I hate looking at cities and having no idea where to stay. In big cities there is just too many options. Booking hotel awards points has never been easier with Award Mapper.
First Step to Using Award Mapper: Input Your City of Choice
Second Step to Using Award Mapper: Review Your Options for Hotel Rewards!
Award Mapper has helped me tremendously to save money. Here are some other ways to save money for your upcoming travel.
Conclusion on Tools for Booking Award Travel and Credit Card Churning
Combine these five free tools together and you are an award travel genius. Ready to deploy all those hard-earned points earned from your work travels or the easy credit card churning that you’ve done over the past year.
In those two examples above, you can see that I should be able to fly from New York to Paris using 40,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points transferred to the airlines identified and then stay at a hotel of my choice for 36,000 points per night for Best Westerns.
Booking award travel is a simple travel hack that doesn’t require a credit card.
I’d likely choose something other than a Best Western. Look how easy that was! Have some award points to use? Here are 10 Most Beautiful Places in the World That Actually Exist.
Redeeming miles has never been easier with these five free tools to book award travel. No more frustration and no more uncertainty on how to use your points. I am a big proponent of maximizing the value of your rewards points. Remember, these rewards points should be treated like assets or part of your net worth.
Rewards points have cash value. Additionally, rewards points SAVE YOU MONEY.
Go start booking award travel now and redeem your miles. What are you waiting for?
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