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Most people get credit card rewards by simply using the payment method to pay for purchases. And infrequent travelers may score a few extra miles or hotel points by signing up for their favorite airline or hotel’s loyalty program.
But a few dedicated consumers have made an art of racking up rewards reserves. (You’ve no doubt heard at least one story about an entire vacation subsidized by points or miles.)
Some of their methods are fairly straightforward, if not time-consuming — “extreme mileagers” (as they are often called) meticulously search for special deals. They look for opportunities to pool points and frequently scour agreements for loopholes.
Sometimes companies “make a mistake when they publish the offer,” says Scott Mackenzie, founder of HackMyTrip.com. Or, “no one (at the offering company) thought to make it a one-time-only deal.” In these instances, attentive consumers have been known to cash in.
Other tactics for amassing rewards are even more extreme — and “not really practical,” Mackenzie says. Here are some of the wackier ways consumers have played or are playing the card, airline or hotel rewards game.