What are the best frequent flyer hacks? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Chris Guillebeau, world traveler and author of Born for This, on Quora:

I could say so much about this! Be sure and take a look at my Travel Hacking Resources page if you haven't seen it before. I'm also part of a service called the Travel Hacking Cartel that can help you on a regular basis.

But as for a few of the best things you can do:

  1. Understand that most miles are earned on the ground, not through flying. You should focus your mileage-earning efforts accordingly. You don't have to fly a ton to build huge mileage balances.
  2. You can earn miles and points for things you already do, with little or no additional effort. One example: sign up for free dining rewards programs where you'll get "paid" just for eating at some of your regular restaurants and cafes. My friends and I took this to an extreme and created the "Dining Dash," where every year we attempt to visit 12 restaurants in a single day. If you read that story, you'll learn how it works and how you can benefit (even if you don't want to visit 12 restaurants in a day...).
  3. Managed carefully, credit cards can help a lot, even if you don't spend a lot. I write a lot about this on the blog. If you can only get one card, get the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You'll earn a very large signup bonus and double points for all dining and travel expenses forever. These points are especially valuable because they can be transferred to multiple airlines and hotels--so basically you keep them in one account until you're ready to use them, which greatly reduces the risk of devaluation. I use this card every day.
  4. If you want to go above-and-beyond, you can apply for more cards and earn additional bonuses. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this does not wreck your credit. Years ago I did a public experiment where I applied for more than a dozen cards on a single day. I was accepted for each card, and one year later my credit was higher than before I started. Of course, I made sure to never carry a balance. (Here's a list of a few recently-available offers. The Hilton one is now gone, but the others remain.)
  5. Last year a colleague and I taught a course on how to Make Your Dream Trip a Reality. Our students have gone on to earn tens of millions of miles, often through very creative methods. Here's a story of someone who earned 21,000 points merely through answering surveys.

There's a lot more I could say, but that's a start!

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