Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s a fun way to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles which can be used to score discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider information, you’ll be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. These miles can then be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight consider the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s best to pay cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to check those frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best price. All it boils down to is the number of miles or points in your travel account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to hacking travel? First step opening the credit card that comes that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide various advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your habits with spending and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are perfect 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 spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make sure to check for the details. Then, it’s all about racking up miles, and using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your goals?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, it’s time to use them towards nice travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are some examples from some of the providers I have experience with:
Escape by using 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 the portal, you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can use a combination of money and points to book your trip. You can even book entirely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you don’t possess enough points for the full price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying using either points or dollars? But, be careful that if you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine dollars and points on the same flight. If you’re only a couple of points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience , with more space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s which allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue dollar or points but not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you join your points with your family members and 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.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus. But don’t fret as we’ve done it and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3%. It could be worthwhile over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the required spending is to cover an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due, ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they will reimburse you.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about making payments on them with the credit card you have. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card in full , so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and look into any big expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they understand why you’re doing it.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all of your gifts with the credit card you have. 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 contemplating to.
There are plenty of ways to get the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel 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:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a vacation, make use of your travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel expenses. In addition, you’ll achieve the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card reward and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for these expenses.
Use your credit card for everyday costs
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points by using your credit card to pay for daily expenses. This can 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.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points 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 align with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will let you pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points, be sure to use them in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the benefits of different redemption options. For instance using points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may offer better value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility in making use of your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a reward program for hotels. This gives the benefit of a wider range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks that may not be accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
Additionally, try to find out if your credit card offers any perks that can reduce your 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 someone else, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card, and be sure to keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient way possible. Through a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.