It’s everyone’s favourite four-letter F word. Free. There is something inherently satisfying about getting something for nothing. When it comes to travel, it is possible to score upgrades, perks and privileges at no additional cost…you just have to know some tricks of the trade. For those looking to cut back expenses without cutting back on the experience, here are a few tactics on how to score a free upgrade:

-When it comes to renting a car, reserve the most popular low-end model. Chances are that they will be sold out by the time you arrive and you can get upgraded to a nicer model at no additional cost.

-If you’ve visited a city in the past, stay at the same hotel. Upon check-in, mention that you are a frequent guest and politely ask about an upgrade. Share your story: an anniversary, a big birthday, or an otherwise celebratory occasion
can get you attention and possibly special treatment.

-Join an airline-affiliated frequent flier program and earn points. The higher your frequent flyer status, the better your chances are of receiving an upgrade.

-A lot of us sit on our points without cashing them in. These points have monetary value, so if you’ve been waiting for a while to cash them in, best to use them every time you fly, rent a car or get a hotel room. Then you’re putting them to good use. The American Express Gold Rewards Card has a great program where Cardmembers can use their Membership Rewards points to pay for part or all of their vacation costs. Unlike other programs, The Gold Rewards Card allows you to pick the flight you want, the date you want and you can use your points to book it, with no restrictions or black-out dates to worry about.

-Never be the first to board the plane. Waiting to ask the gate agent about empty seats that are left after the plane boards could score you extra leg room. Ask about the availability of bulkhead seats or the emergency exit row. These seats have more space, but some don’t recline, so be sure to do your research and check out for a look at your aircraft’s most comfortable seats.

-If your flight is overbooked, volunteer to get “bumped.” In return for this act of kindness, you typically get a free flight to use within a year. If they end up not needing you to volunteer your seat, they may upgrade you on that particular flight. It’s a win/win to volunteer….

-For upgrades to first class, you’ll have a better chance of getting bumped up if you know someone already seated in the first-class cabin. Upon boarding, ask the agent about sitting together. Dress in business attire, fly solo and always be polite to the person at the counter.