Are you tired of paying thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles which you can use to score discounted or free flights to your dream destinations. With a little imagination and some know-how, you’ll be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles for hotel stays and rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and building out a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking take a look at the price. If the price is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. If the prices start to rise higher than $500, it’s best to check the frequent flyer account to see which airline can give you the best deal. It all boils down to the number of points or miles in your travel account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is to open the credit card that comes that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards with a variety of benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are great to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit or debit card, you’ll have to meet the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Each card has its own guidelines, so make certain to verify this information. From there you can begin to rack miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
After you’ve accrued the points balance, it’s time to redeem them for some sweet getaway! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from some of the companies I’ve had experience with:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within this portal you’ll get access to virtually every airline. You can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can even book entirely on points if you have the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the entire price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? Be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine points and dollars for one flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re just a few points away, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or 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 because we’ve been there 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! Make sure you pay a cost, which is usually about 3%. It could be worthwhile over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another way to reach the minimum spend is to pay for the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up Ask your relatives if you could pay them for theirs, and they will reimburse you.
Repay the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider repaying them using an credit card. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card in full , so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any major expenses in the near future which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they understand why you’re doing it.
If you’re celebrating the holidays take into consideration buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and also be prepared for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to make the most of your travel credit card and earn miles or points to use towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a vacation, make use of you travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend to earn your credit card as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles on these expenditures.
Use your credit card for all your daily expenditures
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement and earn points is by making use of your credit card for every day expenses. This could be things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending routines.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to a travel credit card with the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off your debt without accruing interest. It will also assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles make sure you use them in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card and compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance you can use points to purchase a flight directly with the airline could give you a better return than using them for an gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to get a wider selection of options and greater freedom when it comes to redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a reward program for hotels. This can give an access wider variety of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that aren’t available through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should discover if your credit card offers certain benefits that will help you save money on travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that are extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else and both of you earn rewards using your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure to track your rewards separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re using this program in the most efficient method. By using an array of strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.