Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles that can then be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and some know-how, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight take a look at the price. If the flight is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to look into your frequent flyer accounts and determine which airline offers you the best price. All it boils down to is the amount of points or miles you have in your travel bank for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? The first step is opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that offer a variety of advantages and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are 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 spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to check for this information. From there it’s all about building up miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some nice travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the companies I’ve had experience with:
Take a trip through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you own an Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. In this portal you’ll have access to virtually every airline and you can use a combination of money and points to pay for your trip. You can book your flight entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for total price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option of paying with either points or dollars? Be careful in case you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on flights. If you’re a few points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience , with more legroom and free 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 pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca You’re probably quite economical and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. Don’t worry, we’ve been through 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 pay your rent using a credit card, do it! Be prepared to pay a fee, usually about 3%. It might be worth it in the long run when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another excellent way to meet the spending limit is to cover the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up, ask your family members to pay for theirs and they will repay you.
Make a payment to pay off a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider repaying them using your credit card. Be sure to pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they know why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts using the credit card you have. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be ready for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you already planning to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most of the travel credit card and earn miles or points to use towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of your travel credit card to book your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to meet the minimum spend to earn your credit card reward and earn points, but you’ll also earn points or miles for these expenditures.
Use your credit card for all your daily costs
Another way to hit the minimum spend and earn points is making use of your credit card to pay for daily expenditures. This could include items like groceries, gas and even your telephone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Think about a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to the travel credit card which has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
When you’ve earned a significant amount of points or miles make sure you use them wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card, and evaluate the worth of various redemption options. For instance, using points to book a ticket directly through the airline may give you a better value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to have a wider range of options and greater flexibility when you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be capable of transferring your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a reward program for hotels. This will give an access larger variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks which are not offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, find out whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that could be very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion, both of you can earn rewards using your credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure you keep track of your rewards separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and make sure you’re using it in the most effective method. By using 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.