Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, which you can use to score discounted or free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little bit of creativity and some insider 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 as well as incentives to earn airline miles. The miles can be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking take a look at the price. If the cost is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to look into those frequent flyer accounts to find out which airline will give you the best deal. It all boils down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is opening an account with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards with many features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be great to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit card, you’ll need to reach the minimum spend limit in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be 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 goals?
After you’ve accrued your points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some sweet travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Getaway with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase credit card, then you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to virtually every airline. You can combine the points as well as cash in order to pay for your next trip. You can even book completely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not possess enough points for the entire price, you can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option to pay with either points or dollars? Be careful, if you don’t have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points on the same flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re just a few points short, United provides the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience , with more legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s that allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to join your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum spend for the credit card bonus. Don’t worry, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using a credit card, do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually at least 3%. It could be worthwhile over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up, ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they will reimburse you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider repaying them using the credit card you have. Be sure to pay the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared to give gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to get the most from your travel credit card. You can earn miles or points to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use the travel credit card to book your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card reward and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover the expenses.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points by using your credit card for daily expenses. This could be things like gas, groceries, and even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles for specific types of purchases, such as dining or travel. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending habits.
Think about a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest and simultaneously help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points Make sure to utilize them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and compare the value of different redemption options. For example, using your points to book a flight directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer your rewards to different loyalty program. This will allow you to enjoy a greater variety of choices and more freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or hotel rewards program. This can give you access to a greater variety of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that may not be offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, find out if your credit card offers certain benefits that will help you save money on travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient method possible. Utilizing a combination of the methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide assortment of travel-related perks.