Posted by : Ruby Escalona Saturday, February 7, 2015

In the US, travel hacking is a full blown hobby, in the Philippines, not so much. There are limited ways to do it, but it can be done, with a bit more time. Here are some tips on how you can travel for free (or significantly lower your costs):

Business class to London? Free! 

Flights – First thing I can recommend is to sign up for a good travel credit card and put most of your spending on it: groceries, eating out, shopping, etc. There are three that I can recommend:
  1.     The BPI Delta Skymiles credit card. Delta is a US full service airline, but you can fly their airlines to other areas in Asia. You can even use it from your Manila to US flights. The downside? Delta points have very little value and you would need thousands of points just to earn a roundtrip ticket. Another is that you’ll need to spend thousands and thousands of pesos to earn said points (you earn 1 mile for every P45 spent, which is the PHP equivalent of $1 spent = 1 mile in the US). You also have to take into consideration the annual fee. The good side? Starting 2015, Delta now allows one-way reward redemptions for half the price of the roundtrip ticket, plus Delta is part of the SkyTeam alliance – which means you can fly other airlines within their alliance if Delta shows availability for them. 
  2.   Cebu Pacific Citibank card. Every P1 spent is equal to 1 point. Once you reach a certain minimum, you can redeem those points for e-vouchers, which you can use on your flights.  Same downside: annual fees, can take a while to earn the points, and as Cebu Pacific does not have any partners, you’re stuck with Cebu Pac’s destinations.
  3. Philippine Airlines – some credit cards allow you to transfer the bank points you have earned with them for Philippine airline miles. Thing is, you get terrible value for them (ie you get 1 point for every P40 in HSBC then 30 points = 1 mile for Philippine Airlines). You can also get a co-branded credit card issued by PNB. Downside? Philippine Airlines is not part of any other partners, so you’re stuck with flying PAL routes. There are a few code shares that you can fly in, though. 
Every peso counts and can become a future mile or so for your trips! 

Peter's flight to Washington DC was free because of points!

Hotels/Hostels If you like staying in brand hotels (like the Intercontinental), you can try to earn points for every stay that you do by signing up for their rewards program. The downside: there’s no other way to earn points unless you stay in the hotel or find a credit card that can transfer points to them locally (I’m not that familiar with this in the Philippine market). If you have a successful blog, you can get free accommodation in exchange for a review (which I managed to do successfully in Seoul). I got 5 free nights in a hostel because my blog reached the highest requirement that the hostel was looking for in a blogger at the time. I found that promo on their website, emailed them, they replied & verified my blog details (page rank, number of visitors for the past few months), and they gave me the free nights. Tadah!

Got to stay at the Kimchi Hongdae Hostel for 5 nights, free

Activities – You can check out the deal websites (Groupon, LivingSocial, Metrodeal, Cash Cash Pinoy) for discounted entrance fees. It may not exactly be for free, but you still save significantly. Alternatively, if you are going to a new location, look for free activities: parks, riverfront walks, etc.

Got tickets to the Florida Aquarium for half price on LivingSocial

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. If you take the time to research and plan accordingly, you can live a life of travel without paying much! 

3 Responses so far.

  1. sarah says:

    I've been reading about travel hacking for a while now, and the only solutions I found were the same as what you wrote here. Travel hacking from the Philippines is currently much harder than folks in the US, like what you said, every bit helps! :) Thanks for this roundup!

  2. Hello Sarah,

    Yeah, it definitely is much harder in the Philippines, plus the points conversion is crazy, like PHP30 to 1 mile (ugh, not a good rate)

    However, if you want to fly cheaply, might as well bank Delta points. Even though I hate Delta points with a passion (in the US, we call it the SkyRubles), it still has some great award availability in the Asia Pacific Region with modest returns for your buck. Then again, you should only do this on expensive countries (ie where you dont fly using CebuPac)

    Good luck in your endeavour! I already booked a free flight for 2016, and some free hotels in 2015, which I updated here:

  3. The downside: there’s no other way to earn points unless you stay in the hotel or find a credit card that can transfer points to them locally (I’m not that familiar with this in the Philippine market). חבילות לחו"ל

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