There are tons of travel hacking tools out there and I’m a huge fan of many of them. But there’s a number of tools that I really like and use quite often. These tools can help you find out how to better utilize your points, pick the right seat on a plane, plan your trips like a pro, and much, much more.
And what’s best is that most of these tools are free and very easy to use. So here’s my list of 25 travel hacking tools you should be using.
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AwardHacker has gotten very popular over the past year or two and it’s one of my top travel hacking tools. It allows you to input destinations (cities and airports) and then select your search criteria such as cabin class and one-way or roundtrip, etc.
It will then pull up the required miles for a lot of different rewards programs (but not every single one). This makes is very easy to sort out which redemptions are the cheapest and to see exactly how many miles you’ll have to rack up for your desired award flight.
It’s also great because it shows you which programs (SPG, Amex, etc.) transfer out tho those respective airlines, allowing you to more easily plan out your redemptions.
I double check the amounts shown just to be on the safe side but the tool has been very accurate and saves me considerable time especially since I used to have to comb through dozens of award charts to compare the prices.
Awardace.com is another similar travel hacking tool you can look into using as well. It’s a nice tool because it breaks down the data a little differently than AwardHacker. You can see the ranges for the programs that offer off-peak and peak times in graph form which is convenient since you can see how drastic the price swings are.
It also gives you an estimate on the surcharges based on a scale of one to four. When you click on the search results you can see the different airlines that fly on that route and the airport routing as well.
One cool feature about Awardace is that you can punch in your origin along with the number of points in a specific airline program and it can give you suggestions on how to efficiently use your points based on the type of class you want to fly on and whether or not you want to book a roundtrip or one way.
3. Flight Connections
For whatever reason a lot of people don’t talk about Flight Connections but it’s a great resource. I use this to help me see what’s possible for routing. It’s extremely helpful trying to put together complex itineraries and it’s played a major role in me planning round the world trips for myself and others.
You can click on any airport or just put in the airport code and it will show you all of the routes that fly to/from that airport. You can then click on a route and it will show you which airlines fly on that route and on which day of the week they fly it. I don’t know if it’s always updated but for me it’s been very accurate and this is one of my favorite tools.
I love Awardomatic for easily searching for hotels in the different loyalty programs with its easy to use map interface.
You can filter down your searches to specific programs like Marriott, Hilton, etc. and filter them down further based on the amount of points you want to use. In my experience, it doesn’t always provide 100% accurate info so you always need to double check if it doesn’t show any property there but for the most part it still is very useful and I use it quite frequently.
5. Hotel Hustle
Hotel Hustle is another similar tool that shows even more properties and gives more info on the hotels, such as the cash price and pay with points + cash options. It even shows you how many cents per point you might be able to get on redemptions.
Sunflight.net will show you which side of the plane the sun will be on. If you’re like me and like to take aerial photos this is actually very handy sometimes as you’ll know where about to expect the sun to be and when in your flight the sunset/sunrise should be.
7. Visa Supplier Locator
The Visa Supplier Locator allows you to punch in an address, name, or zipcode and search based on Merchant Category Code (MCC). This can help you see how a merchant should code when you use your Visa card which can help you maximize your points.
Cravor can be a good tool for finding deals at local restaurants along with what type of miles you can earn at those places with dining programs.
AutoSlash is a must when you’re thinking about renting a car. This service will track rentals for you and will notify you when the price goes down, allowing you to save money with absolute minimal effort. They also can give you low prices on rental cars by applying discount codes you probably didn’t know existed.
10. Google Flights
I like to use Google Flights to see the specific schedule for airlines and to see which type of aircraft they are flying on. It’s also great for scanning prices for flights and tracking them as well. And Google Flights is lightning quick considering how much data it delivers at a time.
11. ITA Matrix Software
The ITA Matrix Software is the engine that powers Google Flights but when you jump directly into it you can get even more advanced. It takes longer to learn the ins and outs of the ITA Matrix compared to Google Flights, but it can be a very powerful travel hacking tool. (You can read our guide here).
One way I commonly use the ITA Matrix is to find the surcharges for award flight by locating the YQ seen in the image below. Simply click on the price of a search result, and you’ll bring up the screen below.
Now look at the fee breakdown below from when I found this flight through the American Airlines AAdvantage website. Notice the carrier-imposed fees are the same as the YQ at $503.
This searching method is very useful for trying to estimate fees for awards that don’t show up online or that would otherwise require valuable time spent waiting on the phone for estimates (which they can’t always provide).
Flightaware is the go-to source for many aviation folks for tracking the current status of flights.
I’ve actually seen Flightaware update the status of flights to delayed before that status even shows up on the flight boards in airports so I really like to use Flightaware to check on the latest flight status. It also has a Misery Map so you can check where the most delays/cancellations are happening.
It’s also pretty incredible just to see how many planes are up in the US air space at any given moment.
13. GPS Visualizer
GPS Visualizer is a great tool for pulling up different kinds of data but I like to use it to pull up a large circle around airports to display a specific radius.
This helps when trying to maximize your points with distance-based award charts since you can see exactly how far a given zone can take you.
For example, the map below shows a 1,150 mile radius from DFW which is a cut-off tier on the British Airways award chart. I can then know that flights from DFW to Chicago are within this range but that flights to the West Coast are outside of this range and will require more miles.
Sometimes the distance-based award charts like British Airways and Iberia do their own thing with the distance-requirements so you’ll need to double check which routes fall in which zones but this tool will get you started with what you need.
14. Rome 2 Rio
The Rome 2 Rio Tool will help you figure out the logistics of how to get from point A to point B, whether you’re traveling by car, train, plane, etc. Being able to instantly see all of your transport options along with price ranges makes planning much more efficient and can save you money.
15. Seat Guru
Seat Guru is my go to source for seat maps so I can always see what the layout of a plane is going to be like. You can also view specific complaints that people have made about seats regarding things like the noise levels, legroom, and limited seat recline. I recommend you always checking with Seat Guru before you every select a seat.
16. Lounge Buddy
I use Lounge Buddy like crazy when planning or even while on round the world trips as it makes it so easy to see which lounges I can get into at each airport.
17. Maps.me app
I know that Google maps has an offline mode but I’ve been using the Maps.me app for a long time for my offline GPS needs and it’s been very reliable even in some places like small Caribbean islands where I didn’t think it would be much help. This isn’t so much a travel hacking tool but it’s helpful nonetheless.
Wikipedia is a great resource for various research purposes but I use it to find out which destinations that airlines fly to and all of their partners/codeshare agreements. Sometimes it will tell you which destinations will be coming soon or which destinations are seasonal and I use that to help me plan future trips.
19. Where to credit
If you’ve just taken a flight where you paid for it and earned miles but you aren’t sure where to credit your miles to (which airline partner), then Where to Credit is the go-to tool. For best results, you’ll need to know the specific fare bucket you flew in but this is a great tool that will help you maximize your miles from revenue flights.
20. Travel Math
Travel Math is a cool tool that you can use to provide you with all sorts of different data for your travels. Whether it is for driving or flying, you can look up things like flight time and drive time and even compare the cost of driving versus flying. It’s a fun tool to just play around with.
Pointmize will help you find award hotels and will give you insight into whether or not the redemption prices are optimized or not. I only started recently using this tool but I think it’s a pretty cool way to maximize your hotel points.
22. Expert Flyer
I don’t use Expert Flyer but many people do because you can set up notifications for when certain seats open up on flights which can be super valuable. They have both a free version and a paid version.
23. Great Circle Mapper
This is the Great Circle Mapper tool to use for many purposes. It’s great for finding out the distances for your flights when using distance-based award charts but it’s also good for making maps of your flighting routes and for record keeping purposes.
24. Award Wallet
Award Wallet is a very popular product for keeping tabs on all of your miles. I actually don’t use it because I obsess over my miles and credit cards on a ridiculous level and so don’t need it. But if you don’t already have a system in place for keeping track of your miles you might want to look into Award Wallet.
SkyScanner is a great travel hacking tool for quickly searching for flights with the cheapest prices. If you only enter an origin destination, you can hit search and compare prices to a lot of different destinations. Before I ever purchase a flight, I try to use this along with Google Flights or the ITA Matrix to make sure I’m getting a good deal on the price.
These travel hacking tools can be very useful and cut down the amount of time needed to scout out some of the best redemptions and can save you money and points. They are almost all very easy to use so there’s little to no learning curve for many of these tools. I suggest bookmarking this page and returning to it whenever you have some time to try out some of these great tools.
And if you have any suggestions for other tools let me know in the comments!
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.