Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to obtain discounted or cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a little bit of imagination and some information, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. The miles can be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards permit you to use miles for hotel stays and rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking travel is taking advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and to establish a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking take a look at the price. If the price is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting higher than $500, it’s best to review those frequent flyer accounts and find out which airline will give you the best price. All it boils down to is the number of miles or points in your travel account for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? First step opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. 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 essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be great 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 reach the minimum spend limit in order to qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make sure to check for the details. Then you can begin to rack up miles, and using them to plan your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some sweet getaway! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase card, you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll get access to virtually every airline, and you can make use of a combination of money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for total cost, you still can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars for one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United gives you the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience , with more legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points, however, not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to pool your points together with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Make sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. But don’t fret as we’ve done it and we’re here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the required spending is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due then ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they can reimburse you.
Pay off the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about paying them off with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate 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. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they understand why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts with the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were thinking of.
There are many ways to make the most out of your travel credit card and earn miles or points to be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a vacation, make use of your travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to meet the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card, but you’ll also earn points or miles on these costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses
Another method to reach the minimum amount of spending and earn points is making use of your credit card to pay everyday expenditures. This can include items like groceries, gas and even your telephone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to the travel credit card which has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest. It will also help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
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 value of different redemption options. For example you can use your points to book a flight directly with the airline might give you a better value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or reward program for hotels. This can give you access to a wider variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks which are not available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, discover whether your credit card has certain benefits that will reduce your travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with a friend and both of you earn rewards using your own credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure to track your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to making the most of your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and make sure you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient way possible. Through an array of methods I’ve described that you can earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.