Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles, which you can use to obtain discounted or cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a little creativity and some insider knowledge, you can travel for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase discount or no-cost flights. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb above $500, you’ll want to look into your frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best price. It all boils down to the amount of points or miles in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening a credit card with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards with various advantages and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards perfect for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll need to reach the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to receive the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so be sure to look up the details. Then you can begin to rack up miles, and using them to plan your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your goals?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some sweet vacation! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Getaway with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have an Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to virtually every airline and you can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your travel. You can even book completely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for total price, you can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? But, be careful, if you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on the same flight. No worries though, if you’re a few points away, United gives you the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is like United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars but not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you join your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Be sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually at least 3 percent. It may be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the required spending is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due Ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they can pay you back.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration making payments on them with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Talk to your family and determine if they’ve got any major expenses in the near future which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to are able to trust the person and that they are aware of the reason for taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts with your credit card. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to make the most from the travel credit card and earn miles or points to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ways to maximize your rewards
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. You’ll not only be able to meet the minimum spend for your credit card as well, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover these expenditures.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points by using your credit card to pay for everyday expenditures. This could be things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance onto an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the benefits of different redemption options. For example, using your points to book a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of choices and more freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or hotel rewards program. This gives you access to a larger selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that may not be available through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should find out the card’s benefits. any perks that can reduce your travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
The key to making the most of your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and make sure you’re using it in the most effective method possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.