Are you tired of paying thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or free flights to your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider know-how, you’ll fly for no cost within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to 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 it comes time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to review your frequent flyer accounts to find out which airline will give you the best price. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles you have in your travel bank for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets of travel hacking? The first step is to open an account that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards with many advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are crucial 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
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll have to meet the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make sure to check for the details. From there you can begin to rack up miles, and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some delicious getaway! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the providers I’ve worked with:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have a Chase card, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll get access to virtually every airline. You can use a combination of money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book completely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the full price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with every credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying using either points or dollars? Be careful that if you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for the same flight. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of point short United also offers the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides an enjoyable and comfortable travel experience that includes extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines that allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue points or dollars however, not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to combine your points with your family members and earn 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 like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for the credit card bonus. Don’t worry as we’ve done it and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually at least 3 percent. It might be worth it over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the required spending is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future, ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they will repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you have any loans, consider paying them off with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Talk to your family and determine if they’ve got any large expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to 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 using the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and accrue points or miles to spend on flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional suggestions for maximising your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use you travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel expenses. In addition, you’ll achieve the minimum amount of spending required for your credit card as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles on these expenses.
Use your credit card for all your daily expenses
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending and earn points is utilising your credit cards to pay every day expenses. This could be things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t accumulate interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a high-interest credit card, consider transferring the balance to an account with a travel credit card that has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card, and evaluate the value of different redemption options. For instance using your points to book a flight directly through the airline may offer better return than using them for a gift card.
Another option is to get a rewards card that allows you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or Hotel rewards programme. This gives you access to a larger variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits which are not available through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should find out if your credit card offers some perks that could reduce your travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can earn rewards using your credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
The key to making the most of your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of this program in the most effective way possible. Utilizing all of the strategies I’ve listed in this article, you’ll be able get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.