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africa,  travel,  travel tips

Cheapest Way To Travel To South Africa

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.


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 to 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

Cheapest Way to travel to South Africa from Houston
My actual flight had a stop in Munich (Germany) and the price was $25.50
Cape Town to Houston for 40K miles economy class one-way
An example of my return ticket, which was $56.96.


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.

Earn points while shopping via the Mileage Plus X app


Flew United Airlines a couple of times

Every airline has a loyalty flyer program and 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 (at that time) after spending $2,000 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

Save all your coins

You can start a dedicated travel fund and reduce unnecessary expenses. Spend less money on alcohol, clothing, shoes, or whatever else eats up your pocket.

Get a high interest savings account.

Increase your salary by getting a second job.


Watch out for flight or error deals

For a list of sites offering such deals, click here. Unless you live in Europe, you can try flying via Europe (example). Same from Asia (example).


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.

Read: Why Southern Africa Is Worth Visiting


And please don’t believe the negativity from mainstream media regarding Africa. Nothing will do justice until you see the vast continent for yourself.

Lisbon Falls, South Africa
Lisbon Falls, Mpumalanga province


If you are into travel hacking, what are your favorite ways to earn miles?

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

Use Points & Miles to South Africa

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