10 Ways to Score Free Lodging for Your Next Vacation

Lodging is one of the biggest travel costs, but it's actually an optional expense. Here's how you can rest your head for free.

Travel rarely is cheap, and lodging is one of the biggest travel expenses. Wouldn’t it be nice to eradicate that hefty cost?

This may sound like a stretch, but it’s possible. And no, we’re not talking about staycationing.

Following are 10 ways to cut your lodging expenses to as little as zero.

1. Use credit card rewards

Travel credit cardAfrica Studio / Shutterstock.com

If you have accumulated a substantial amount of credit card points, put them to use.

I’m not suggesting you sign up for a credit card you don’t need. But if you are shopping for a card anyway, consider generous introductory offers.

That’s how Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has scored free lodging, as he explains in the video above:

“I got a big ol’ sign-up bonus. Then I put everything I could on the card throughout the year. Next thing you know, I’ve got enough points for a free week at a hotel.”

You can find the perfect credit card by using our Solutions Center.

2. Trade in frequent-flyer miles

Family at airportMonkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

These perks, which are offered through airlines and select rewards credit cards, can also be redeemed for lodging in lieu of a free flight.

Some people frown on this approach. For example, The Points Guy says that using frequent-flyer miles for hotel stays is rarely a good idea, as you often have to use too many points to get the free room.

But this may be a good option for some people in some situations, even if you don’t get the biggest bang for your buck. Use your own judgment.

Don’t have enough miles? Try “4 Overlooked Ways to Earn Airline Miles.”

3. Accumulate loyalty rewards

Hotelracorn / Shutterstock.com

Always on the road? Sign up for a customer loyalty program with your favorite hotel chain and watch the points pile up.

4. House-sit

House-sitterRido / Shutterstock.com

Homeowners who will be away for an extended period may have an interest in keeping their home occupied so burglars won’t get any ideas. Just be aware that extra jobs like pet care and yardwork also may be your responsibility during your stay.

Websites like Rover.com connect potential house and pet sitters with people in need of house or pet sitting.

5. Volunteer

VolunteerYe Choh Wah / Shutterstock.com

You might be able to land a free stay in return for your work at a community event hosted by a nonprofit organization. And you might only have to volunteer a few hours of your time. I did this once with the Red Cross.

For another option, check out “A Cheaper Way to See the USA — Volunteering in Nation’s Parks.”

6. Crash with relatives

RelativesIakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

If loved ones have extra room, they may gladly welcome you into their home. Plus, they can provide firsthand insights about their area.

Just make sure you’re a good house guest.

7. Swap homes

Home swapDragon Images / Shutterstock.com

With this arrangement, you agree to give up your residence to another family in exchange for a chance to crash at their home for a specified period of time.

Websites to check for possibilities include HomeExchange.com and HomeLink.

8. Join an exchange program

House guestLiukov / Shutterstock.com

When you become a member of a hospitality exchange, you agree to let strangers crash on your couch — or in a guest bedroom — for a few nights. This arrangement is ideal for those who are open to new experiences and don’t mind being generous.

If you’re interested, check out a site like Couchsurfing or The Hospitality Club to learn more and get registered.

9. Attend timeshare presentations

Time shareCheryl Casey / Shutterstock.com

There’s a small price to pay for doing this. You might have to endure a two-hour sales pitch from a company representative who desperately desires for you to make an impulse real estate purchase, for example.

But if you persevere, you may be able to stay at a luxurious resort for substantially less than what you would otherwise pay.

My family and I once took advantage of an offer of $99 for a three-night resort stay that would typically cost at least $750. Not free, but pretty darn close to it.

10. Become a reviewer

Travel bloggerezpic / Shutterstock.com

Do you write or blog about travel? This may open the door to opportunities to review hotels in exchange for a free night’s stay. Just be sure to openly disclose the freebie in accordance with Federal Trade Commission rules.

Have you landed free lodging using any of these tactics? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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