Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to get discounted or even free flights to your desired destinations. With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can then be used to pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking take a look at the price. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to review the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the best price. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? First step to open the credit card that comes that comes with a welcome bonus. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that provide various benefits and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are great to use for hacking travel:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll have to meet the limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make sure to check for this information. From there it’s all about building up miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some nice getaway! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have a Chase cards, you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within it, you’ll have access to virtually every airline. You can combine the points as well as cash in order to pay for your trip. You can even book entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the entire cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option to pay with dollars or points? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you aren’t able to combine points and dollars for flights. If you’re a few points away, United also offers the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is like United’s which allows you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you join your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. But don’t fret as we’ve done it and are here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent with credit card, then do it! Make sure you pay a cost, which is usually about 3%. It could be worthwhile over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the minimum spend is to cover an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due, ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they will pay you back.
Repay a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration repaying them using an credit card. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Ask your family members to see if they have any major expenses in the near future which you could help pay for. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they understand why you’re taking the initiative.
If it’s the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were planning to.
There are a lot of ways to get the most out of the travel credit card. accrue points or miles to spend on the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of the travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. You’ll not only achieve the minimum spend for your credit card and earn points, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover the costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday costs
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points utilising your credit cards for daily costs. This could include things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, like eating out or travelling. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Think about a balance transfer
If you have existing outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer the balance to the travel credit card which has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points Make sure to utilize them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For instance using points to book a ticket directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them for an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a reward program for hotels. This can give the benefit of a greater selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks which are not offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
Additionally, try to discover if your credit card offers some perks that could reduce your travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that are extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
When you travel with a friend each of you will be able to get rewards on your credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card and make sure to keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and ensure that you’re using this program in the most effective method possible. Through a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.