It’s often said that you have to be thrifty to be rich. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to replace first-class travel with budget airlines, cramped seating and endless check-in queues – you just need to learn how to travel for free.

Nobody wants to spend the duration of a flight with their knees pressed against the seat in front of them, with springs poking them here, there and everywhere, all while a tired toddler howls a few seats along.

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Booking a higher class seat is often non-negotiable for hard-working professionals, who need to finish off an important piece of work while in-air, or get some much needed rest ahead of an important meeting.

Although, travelling anything other than economy can be expensive. Depending on the journey, the difference in price between economy and first-class can be in the thousands. However, it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

According to The Points Guy CEO Brian Kelly, it is possible to travel in luxury and travel for free. His secret? Points reward cards.

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Twitter @Thepointsguy

These cards provide the user with points whenever they make a purchase. Once enough points have been accumulated, they can then be spent on free goodies.

The travel guru started using the cards as a student. However, he scaled up his operation after taking a job with financial company Morgan Stanley. He was spending over $200,000 a month on expenses such as travel, recruitment dinners and networking events. Kelly charged these expenses to his own cards.

His employer reimbursed the costs. However, the smart-thinking shopper was able to pocket the points generated by these substantial outlays.

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Brian Kelly’s tips to maximise reward points and travel for free

1. You should spread your spending across a number of different cards and accounts, in order to avoid upset should a company change their terms. Likewise, you should also look for cards that allow you to transfer your points to other partners free of charge.

2. Shop around for the best place to spend your points. Most airlines allow you to spend reward points through their partners. While airlines tend to charge redemption fees when using points to purchase a ticket, many of their partners will not.

3. You should always spend within your means. Making purchases that you can’t afford to pay back solely to earn a few points is unwise. Failing to pay off your credit cards on time will destroy your credit rating. Should this happen, it will be extremely difficult for you to get accepted for new cards, mortgages or loans later on.

4. Depending on how much you’re spending, it will take time to earn enough points to splash out on a first-class flight or luxury hotel stay. However, slow progress shouldn’t discourage you. Set yourself a reward goal and work to reach it.

5. People are nicer to nice people and airline staff are no different. Remember to show respect to airline employees. They might just reward you with a waived fee or free upgrade.

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