I’m flying business class to New York for half the price of an economy ticket – here’s how you can

I’m looking forward to that flat bed, lounge access and decent plane food. And the best thing is it was far cheaper than flying in economy.

Update 15 May 2018: This blog was first written in February 2017 – I’ve now taken the flights I booked, but the principles outlined here still apply. 

I’m flying to New York with my fiancée and we’re returning to the UK from the Caribbean later this year with both legs in business class.

If you’re interested in something similar, hopefully this blog can explain how – also see our Airline Credit Card and Avios boosting guides.

We did it by building a huge stash of frequent flyer points by manipulating credit card sign-up bonuses to bag tens of thousands of free points and put almost all of our spending on the cards to boost the haul.

Business class cost HALF an economy ticket

When booking we used what’s called a companion ticket – which we got after hitting a spending trigger on one of the cards – where you use the usual number of points for one ticket but none for the second.

You still pay taxes for both, which came to £1,161 for two return tickets. Had I booked the same flights today, two economy tickets would cost £2,052, as it’s a busy period. In business class, that rockets to £4,134.

When we booked the flights we did so as soon as they went on sale. Availability is limited when booking with points, especially in premium cabins, and especially during busy periods.

All from a year’s normal spending…

The flights cost us 122,500 points which is roughly how many we amassed in that time.

The points haul came from a year’s normal spending, while also grabbing substantial bonus points (explained below), and exchanging other loyalty points for 1,000s more frequent flyer points.

We weren’t frivolous – we were just very diligent about only using credit cards where we could.

… and we bagged 10,000s of free points by manipulating credit cards

We did it on various cards: I already had an airline points credit card – my old Diamond Club card (which was sadly axed late last year) got me up to a huge two points per £1 spent.

I also applied for two new cards last year, and my fiancée one, which nabbed us 10,000s of intro bonus points. By also referring friends to those cards we added 10,000s more to the total.

We spent the trigger amount on each to grab the sign-up bonus and then moved onto the next card.

I also made my my fiancée a second cardholder on one of my accounts before she got her own, to ensure we were always both earning points.

The top airline cards

Not all the cards or deals I used are still available, and sign-up bonuses come and go.

If you want to try it yourself though, have a look at the current top deals in our Top Airline Cards guide.

Know the golden rules

For this to work you need to know the following key points:

  • You’ll need a decent credit score to get the cards, and note that a number of applications in a short time can hurt your credit score.
  • You need to be mega-disciplined financially and pay them off in full every month to avoid interest that would otherwise hugely diminish the rewards.
  • Many of the top cards are from American Express so are not accepted everywhere.
  • You need to be militant in putting ALL your spending on these cards throughout the year instead of using cash or a debit card, where you can.
  • Don’t overspend, just do normal spending so you don’t build up bad debt, and avoid taking out cash, which is expensive.

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