Before I learned the first thing about travel hacking, I still traveled, and I was still broke. So for me, travel hacking straightforwardly allowed me to take the trips I was already taking — and more! — while paying far less out of pocket than I had been when all my trips were paid for with cash.
I don't have to fly Spirit anymore, either.
That sometimes leads to some crossed wires between me and my readers, since on the one hand I don't pursue "aspirational" redemptions with the same fervor (the Maldives are expensive!), but on the other hand I have much more time to spend earning miles and points every day than prominent bankruptcy attorneys do.
But that doesn't mean I actually believe travel hacking is just for poor people! In fact, there are some opportunities that are either exclusively available to, or more lucrative for, people with plenty of assets to sink into them. Here are three opportunities I'd pursue if I had a few hundred thousand spare dollars lying around.
Perhaps the only links on my site that haven't changed in the years I've been blogging are those to Fidelity's United, Delta, and American brokerage bonuses. Deposit $100,000 for 9 months, earn 50,000 miles.
You're eligible for one bonus every rolling 12-month period.
Note that you shouldn't do this if you're going to let a Fidelity salesperson talk you into an expensive, actively managed fund. But if you are willing to put in the effort to coordinate your Fidelity account with your other cash and assets, these miles can be very close to free.
The next-lowest hanging fruit here may be Scottrade, which currently offers tiered bonuses up to $2,000 for deposits of $1,000,000. As a percentage return, you're best off depositing just $200,000, however, and earning a $600 bonus.
See Doctor of Credit's list of current bank account bonuses for some other opportunities available to the well-heeled.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards
With a cumulative $100,000 on deposit in Bank of America, Merrill Edge, and Merrill Lynch accounts, you qualify for Bank of America Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors, which has one key benefit: a 75% bonus on rewards earned with the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card. Since the card earns 1.5 cents per dollar spent everywhere, the 75% bonus makes it a 2.625% cash back card, when redeemed against travel purchases made with the card.
That's the best return you're going to get on a Visa or MasterCard for purchases everywhere (the Discover it Miles card gives 3% cash back everywhere for the first year of card membership).
I've left the Kiva loan business for two reasons: first, my PayPal accounts have all been closed! But second, I couldn't justify tying up money in months-long Kiva loans when the same money could be turned over weekly at my local merchants, albeit with far higher transaction fees.
With access to much more liquidity but finite local avenues for manufacturing spend, I'd be thrilled to pour that additional liquidity into Kiva loans using super-lucrative US Bank credit cards.
Fortunately, virtually all manufactured spend and travel hacking techniques are available regardless of your income, let alone your net worth, as long as your credit score and income get you approved for the credit cards you want. I'm living proof of that.
But there are advantages to having a few hundred thousand dollars to throw around, as well. This is America, after all!