Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or free flights to your desired destinations. With a little bit of imagination and some know-how, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight consider the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to review the frequent flyer account to see which airline can give you the best price. It all boils down to the amount of points or miles in your travel bank for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets of travel hacking? The first step is to open an account with a sign-up bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide many advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be perfect to use for hacking travel:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll need to hit the limit of spending minimum in order to qualify for the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to look up this information. Then it’s all about building miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your goals?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some delicious travel! Different credit card providers will offer different ways to redeem your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the ones I’ve worked with:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have a Chase credit card, then you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll get access to nearly every airline, and you can use 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 the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option to pay with either points or dollars? Be careful that if you do not have enough points you cannot combine points and dollars for one flight. If you’re a few point short United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s, allowing passengers to book flights using JetBlue points or dollars however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue offers a distinct feature that allows you to join your points with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and are here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Make sure you be charged a fee, typically about 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the long run in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up then ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they’ll reimburse you.
Repay the loan
If you’re a borrower, consider paying them off with your credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family for help
Discuss your family with them and determine if they’ve got any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to are able to trust the person and that they are aware of the reason for doing this.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using your credit card. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and also be ready for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you were already thinking of.
There are a lot of methods to get the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and accrue points or miles to use towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are some additional ways to maximize your rewards:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use the travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on those costs.
Use your credit card for all your daily expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum spend in order to accumulate points using your credit card to pay everyday expenses. This could be things like gas, groceries and even your telephone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Take into consideration 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 a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points make sure you use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For example you can use points to purchase a flight directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them to purchase the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will allow you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater 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 a reward program for hotels. This can give an access wider variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that may not be offered through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine whether your credit card has certain benefits that will reduce your travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
When you travel with someone else each of you will be able to get rewards on your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure to keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and make sure you’re using it in the most efficient way possible. Utilizing all of the methods I’ve described in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it and take advantage of a broad assortment of travel-related perks.