Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting method to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles which can be used to get discounted or even cheap flights from your ideal destinations. With a little 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 trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. The miles can be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb above $500, you’ll want to check your frequent flyer accounts and determine which airline offers you the most value. It all boils down to the amount of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is opening a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards with various features and benefits. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be excellent to use for hacking travel:
- 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 hit the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so make sure to check for this information. Then, it’s all about racking up miles, and using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some nice travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Take a trip by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have a Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within the portal, you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes even if you don’t have enough points to cover the full cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United, you have the option to pay with either points or dollars? But, be careful that if you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for the same flight. If you’re only a couple of points short, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience , with more legroom and free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s which allows customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points but not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share some of our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay your rent with credit card, then do it! Make sure you pay a cost, which is usually around 3%. It may be worth it in the long run when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the spending limit is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future, ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they will reimburse you.
Make a payment to pay off a loan
If you have any loans, consider repaying them using 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 additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to look into any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Make sure that you are able to 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 with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and be ready for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you already planning to.
There are a lot of ways to get the most of the travel credit card and earn miles or points to spend on airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are some additional suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use your travel credit card to book your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel expenses. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required to qualify for a credit card as well, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on those costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum spend to earn rewards is by making use of your credit card to pay for every day expenses. This can include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for certain types of purchases, like eating out or travelling. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to the travel credit card which has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
When you’ve earned a significant amount of miles or points make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For example you can use points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater value than using them to purchase the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will allow you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a Hotel rewards programme. This can give the benefit of a greater range of flights, hotels, and other travel perks that aren’t available through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should find out if your credit card offers certain benefits that will reduce your travel costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that could be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can earn rewards using your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card, and be sure to track your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do to reaping the maximum benefits from your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re using it in the most efficient method. By using an array of strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to get rewards in a short time, use them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.