Traveling is an amazing experience, but unfortunately, it’s not one everyone feels is accessible to them. That’s mainly because of the price that comes with jetting across the ocean. Even if you manage to find an amazing hotel rate or an itinerary that doesn’t cost much, it’s the airfare that usually gets you. Between expensive rates for even the most basic of tickets to the many hidden fees (like paying for your luggage, paying extra just to pick a seat, buying snacks or Wifi in-flight, and sometimes even transportation to and from the airport, just to name a few), it can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there is one popular way to make flying cheaper: rack up your airline miles.

If you aren’t already using something to get miles (a credit card or an airline loyalty program), then you absolutely need to start, no matter if you’re a veteran traveler or someone looking to book a big trip in the near future. Using your miles toward travel can save you so much money and help you have the vacation of a lifetime. You can redeem miles for discounted flights, upgrades, or even free flights, and that can make all the difference in the rest of your travel budget. It might take a little effort, but it’s worth it in the end!

Below are a few tips on how to make the most of your miles so that you can be one of those people who travels for free.

1Sign Up For A Travel Credit Card

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Miles don’t come out of thin air — you need to be a member of something or have the right credit card to get them. If you have good credit, sign up for a travel rewards card. You’ll have to pay an annual fee (usually after the first year), but it’s worth it if you take advantage of all of the pros of the card. Travel credit cards like Chase Sapphire or Capital One Venture Rewards will award you travel points for every dollar you spend — and they add up faster than you think.

2Use That Card A Lot

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You obviously don’t want to put yourself into debt here, but you also have to realize that the only way you get points is if you actually use the card. So, use it as much as possible, and pay it off on time each month. You can even pay it off right away to avoid interest if you want. The more you use it, the more points you get, so think of it that way.

3Sign Up For Loyalty and Rewards Programs

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A travel credit card is probably the best way to earn miles fast, but another option is to sign up for loyalty and rewards programs for airlines and hotels — you should ideally do this and get a credit card. Loyalty programs are often free and most major airlines offer them. You get points for things like paying for upgrades or just simply booking a flight. It doesn’t take long to sign up, and if it doesn’t cost anything, then there’s no harm in trying!

4Fly The Same Airline As Much As Possible

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Flying one airline as much as you can is your best bet at racking up points simply for booking a ticket. For example, if you’re part of Delta SkyMiles, try booking a Delta flight wherever you’re going. You’ll gain points and be able to use them for another Delta flight in the future.

5Embrace Signup Bonuses

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When you sign up for a travel credit card, you may notice that there’s a signup bonus available for new cardholders. This is definitely something you don’t want to ignore. For example, Chase Sapphire offers a few thousand points if you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of having the card. Look at the specifics, then spend that money in time — you’ll instantly get a ton of points. A good idea is to sign up for the card before a big purchase to get it done right away.

6Use The Right Shopping Portals

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One thing you’ll notice with a travel credit card is that they often come with a shopping portal. This can be used to book hotels or flights, or even buy random products, through their website. Oftentimes, you’ll find that you gain more points if you book through their portal — or you’ll at least sometimes get a discounted price. It’s definitely worth looking into.

7Take Advantage Of Promotions

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Sign up for email alerts for your loyalty programs and for your travel credit cards so that you can hear about promotions. They may send special ones around sometimes, like if you purchase a particular brand in a certain time period, you get double the points. They can also send around airline sales that may apply to you. On top of that, travel credit cards often let you get double the points if you use your card for dining out, so definitely keep that in mind as well.

8Search For The Cheapest Flights

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Obviously, the best way to fly free is to pick a flight that’s less expensive. If you choose first class tickets, you may need thousands of dollars worth of points — whereas if you pick basic fare, you only need a few hundred.

When looking to book a flight, do a lot of hunting for the most inexpensive option that works for you. That goes for hotel deals too!

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