Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles, which can be used to score discounted or free flights to your dream destinations. With a bit of imagination and some know-how, you’ll fly for no cost in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards let you 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 establishing a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking consider the cost. If the cost is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to look into your frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the most value. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is to open a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer various benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most important 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 limit of spending minimum in order to qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own guidelines, so make sure to look up the details. Then you can begin to rack up miles, and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your ideas?
After you’ve accrued the points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some delicious vacation! Different credit card companies will offer different ways to redeem your points, but here are a few examples from some of the companies I’ve had experience with:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of a Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll get access to almost every airline. You can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your trip. You can even book entirely with points if you’ve enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t possess enough points for the full cost, you are able to buy flights with 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 have the option of paying using dollars or points? But, be careful that if you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on flights. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of points short, United also offers the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s which allows you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue offers a distinct feature where you can pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum spend for the credit card bonus. But don’t fret as we’ve done 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 to pay for your rent with credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually about 3 percent. It may be worth it over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the required spending is to cover the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses due Ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they can reimburse you.
Make a payment to pay off a loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about paying them off with your credit card. Be sure to pay off the balance on your credit card in full so you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they know why you’re doing this.
If you’re celebrating the holidays take into consideration buying all of your gifts with your credit card. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared for giving gifts. Make sure that you’re not paying more than you planning to.
There are plenty of ways to make the most out of your travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can use towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few additional ways to maximize your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card to book your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. In addition, you’ll be able to meet the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card bonus, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on those expenses.
Make use of your credit card to pay for everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending and earn points is making use of your credit card to pay everyday expenses. This could be items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, like dining or travel. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Consider a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring the balance to an account with a travel credit card that has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest and simultaneously help you hit the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize them 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 ticket directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another tip is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This allows 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 reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a hotel rewards program. This gives you access to a greater selection of hotels, flights, and other travel perks which are not offered through the rewards program of your credit card.
Also, determine if your credit card offers some perks that could help you save money on travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can earn rewards using your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot split the cost on the same card and make sure to track your rewards separately.
The key to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most effective method possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide assortment of travel-related perks.