Photo Credit: Kemoy Martin
Travel Hacker Kemoy Martin Shares His Top Tips
Travel hacking is all the rage these days with travelers across social media and beyond singing its praises. You may, for example, have seen your favorite travel hacker or content creator brag about booking a business-class flight for under $400, or post about scoring a five-star hotel stay for less than $50 a night. But, not many share the details of how they got such a deal.
Well, today, Kemoy Martin is doing just that. Travel Noire spoke to the travel hacker, entrepreneur and influencer about how he maximizes rewards and points to redeem for incredible luxury experiences. From flying first class and gaining access to exclusive airport lounges to paying next to nothing for a luxury stay or room upgrades, the benefits are numerous. Here, he drops some of his top travel hacking gems.
Who is Kemoy Martin?
Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Martin now resides in Miami, FL. He began traveling in 2012 and defines travel hacking as “the art of earning free flights, hotel stays and car rentals by using travel rewards credit cards.” He has visited 63 countries, and for many of these destinations, he was able to upgrade his trip.
“For my most recent birthday this past September, I traveled to four countries in Europe (Hungary, Malta, Luxemburg and France),” he said. “I spent the majority of the trip in five-star hotels with suite upgrades for free.”
“On the American Express travel portal, they had a Hilton promotion. With them being a transfer partner, cardholders were able to get 2,600 Hilton Honors points for every 1,000 Amex points transferred. You get the most bang for your buck by transferring points to airline partners rather than hotel partners. But, it was a good deal and fit my needs for this trip.”
Some of Martin’s favorite websites to use to aid him in making the most of his reward points are www.awardhacker.com, which helps users find reward travel, and www.awardwallet.com, a site where users can track points and miles.
When it comes to rewards credit cards, he is a fan of American Express’ Gold and Platinum cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the Bilt Mastercard.
Sign up for airlines’ frequent flyer program
“To earn miles with your desired airline, you will first have to sign up for their frequent flyer program. It is free and relatively easy to sign up as a member of a frequent flyer program. To sign up, go to your airline’s website and navigate to the frequent flyer miles section. You can then click on the sign up option and follow the instructions provided to get your account set up.”
Have a strong card opening strategy
“This will be crucial to helping you accumulate lots of travel reward points. Overall, sign-up bonuses will form the bulk of your accumulated miles. Chase is one of the biggest credit card providers in the country with the best sign-up bonuses, and you need to ensure that your application for a credit card with Chase will be accepted.”
“You will have to keep track of the number of credit cards you have applied for within the past 24 months. Chase will immediately reject your application if you have been approved for more than five personal credit cards across all credit card companies over the past 24 months. I would strongly encourage you to apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card as well as a Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card for your first few cards.”
Look for travel cards with big sign-up bonuses
“With each sign-up of a credit card, you can expect a sign-up bonus of about 50,000 points. This translates to between $500 to $1,000 in terms of travel value. However, if you are able to redeem the points during certain promotional periods, you may even get up to $2,000 of travel value from a single sign-up.”
Transfer points to airlines or hotel partners
“The best way to use points is to transfer them to airlines or hotel partners. A big mistake people make with their points is only booking travel directly from the credit card company’s travel portal. You’ll often get more value transferring points instead of using the portal.”
Use a spreadsheet to stay organized
“Organization is key in all this so I would recommend using a spreadsheet. Here are a few things to keep track of the credit card number and type of cards you have opened, credit score to ensure that it stays healthy and that you’re always in a position to apply for new cards, how many miles you have accumulated and when these miles expire, [and] the annual fees that you have to pay on your credit cards to ensure that you are not paying late fees or other unnecessary charges.”
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