Compared to Europe and Asia, Africa can be expensive to fly to, but there are a few ways on how to fly to South Africa for less.
This isn’t complicated. If you have good credit, disciplined with credit cards, and willing to pay annual fees, then flying to South Africa for less money should be easy for you to achieve.
DISCLAIMER: This post is geared for people from the United States.
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Cheapest way to travel to South Africa
Because I’m a United frequent flyer member, I used their awards travel tool to search for airfare to Johannesburg and Cape Town. Searched for two one-way tickets for October-November timeframe.
Both cities are worth 40,000 miles one-way for economy class. Without miles, a flight from Houston to Johannesburg would typically cost $800 to $1200 roundtrip.
Total airfare cost for 80,000 miles = $82.46
There are various ways you can earn miles, but here are 4 ways I was able to accumulate miles with United.
Earned miles when making a purchase at a participating merchant via MileagePlus X app
You can earn 1 to 5 miles for every dollar spent. For example, you earn 5 miles for every dollar spent at Gap.
With the MileagePlus X app, you are essentially buying a gift card of whatever amount using a United-based credit card. Consequently, the miles will be transferred to your United mileage account.
Flew United Airlines a couple of times
Just about every airline has a loyalty flyer program. It’s free to join. Bare in mind that most airline miles expire if your account is inactive or you’re not accruing miles after a certain timeframe.
Signed up for MileagePlus Explorer Card
This card has an annual fee of $95. I was able to gain 25,000 miles (now 50,000 miles) after spending $2,000 (now $3,000) on purchases within 3 months and an additional 10,000 miles when my card purchases in a calendar year are $25,000+.
CAUTION: Use a credit card like a debit card. Pay the full amount and keep a zero balance. This can increase your credit score. You can have 5 or more active credit cards with a credit score of 800.
Signed up for Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Using the Sapphire Reserve card was the quickest way of earning points that can be converted into miles. At the time, Chase was offering 100,000 points if you spend $4,000 in credit card purchases within 3 months. Unfortunately it has dropped to 50,000 points. The annual fee is on the high side but worth it in my opinion.
Another perk is Chase allows you to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio into your United account immediately. No wait time.
If you’re not interested in earning mileage for free travel redemption, no worries.
Alternative solutions for flights to Africa
Save all your coins
You can start a dedicated travel fund and reduce unnecessary expenses. For instance, cook at home and stop eating out.
Get a high interest savings account.
Spend less money on alcohol, clothing, shoes, or whatever else eats up your pocket.
Watch out for flight or error deals
Find yourself a buddy pass
This won’t be possible for the average person. How the buddy pass works is if you know someone who works for an airline, you can fly on standby for a very discounted price. It’s a perk for airline employees. There are, however, some downsides to using a buddy pass.
I have to be real and say South Africa, in addition to other African nations, is worth visiting. The myriad of cultures, the food, the people, the wildlife, to the multitudes of varying and majestic landscapes within Africa is NOTHING like what any other continent has to offer.
And please don’t believe the negativity from mainstream media regarding Africa. Nothing will do justice until you see the vast continent for yourself.
If you are into travel hacking, what are your favorite ways to earn miles?