Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s a fun way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles which can be used to score discounted or complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a little imagination and some know-how, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards permit you to use miles towards hotel stays or rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and to establish frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight consider the cost. If the flight is less than $300, it’s best to pay cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise over $500, you’ll need to check your frequent flyer accounts and find out which airline will give you the best price. It all comes down to the number of points or miles in your travel account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is to open a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that provide various benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit or debit card, you’ll need to reach the limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make certain to verify the details. From there, it’s all about racking up miles, and then using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
After you’ve accrued the points amount, it’s time to use them towards delicious vacation! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the ones I have experience with:
Take a trip through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you own a Chase card, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to almost every airline, and you can combine money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book entirely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full price, you can purchase flights through the 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 know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? Butbe aware that if you don’t have enough points, you cannot combine dollars and points for flights. No worries though, if you’re a few points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s that allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue either dollars or points, however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to reach the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus. Don’t worry as we’ve done it and we’re here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able pay your rent using a credit card, do it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually at least 3%. It may be worth it in the long run in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to cover a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up then ask your relatives if you could pay them for theirs, and they will repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider paying them off with an credit card. Be sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to are able to trust the person and that they know 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 meet the minimum spending limit and also be ready for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you already planning to.
There are many ways to get the most from your travel credit card and earn miles or points to be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few additional ways to maximize your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a vacation, make use of you travel credit card to book your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to meet the required amount for your credit card reward as well, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover these costs.
Make use of your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenditures
Another method to reach the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points utilising your credit cards to pay for daily expenditures. This could be items like groceries, gas, and even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, like eating out or traveling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing debt on a credit card, consider transferring that balance to the travel credit card which has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
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 then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance using points to book a flight directly with the airline might offer better value than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility when you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or Hotel rewards programme. This gives the benefit of a wider selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be available through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should determine if your credit card offers some perks that could save you money on travel-related expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can get rewards on your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t divide the cost with the same card. Also, make sure you keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your travel rewards is to know the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most effective way possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide range of travel perks.