Are you tired of spending an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, which you can use to get discounted or even free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little creativity and some insider knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also allow you to redeem miles for hotel stays and car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and building out a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to check your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best price. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles you have in your travel bank for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is opening an account that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer many features and benefits. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are great for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If 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. Each card has its own guidelines, so make certain to verify this information. Then, it’s all about racking miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to use them towards sweet travel! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the companies I have experience with:
Getaway through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have a Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll have access to almost every airline. You can use a combination of points and cash to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes even if you do not be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for entire cost, you are able to purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying full price for flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying with either points or dollars? But, be careful that if you don’t have enough points you cannot combine points and dollars for one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s, allowing passengers to book flights using JetBlue either dollars or points but not both. However, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
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 are here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3%. It might be worth it in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the minimum spend is to cover the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future, ask your relatives if you could pay them for theirs, and they can repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider paying them off with an credit card. Make sure to pay off the balance on your credit card in full , so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Just make sure you have confidence in the person you are talking to and they are aware of the reason for doing it.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. This way you can hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Be sure to avoid paying more than you already contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of your travel credit card to book your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. Not only will you achieve the minimum amount of spending required for your credit card bonus and earn points, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on these expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum spend in order to accumulate points making use of your credit card to pay for daily expenses. This can include things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Benefit from bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, such as dining or travel. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
When you’ve earned a significant amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and compare the value of different redemption options. For instance, using points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater return than using them for an gift card.
Another option is to get a rewards card that allows you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of options and greater freedom when it comes to redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or Hotel rewards programme. This will give an access greater variety of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks which are not available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Additionally, try to find out if your credit card offers certain benefits that will help you save money on travel expenses. Some cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that could be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to maximizing your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most effective way possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.