Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles that can then be used to get discounted or even free flights to your desired destinations. With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of 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 swapping credit card sign-up bonus and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking 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 review those frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best price. All it boils down to is the amount of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is to open an account with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide many advantages and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be perfect to use for hacking 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 hit the limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Each card has its own guidelines, so make certain to verify the details. Then you can begin to rack up miles and using them to plan your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
After you’ve accrued your points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some sweet vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can combine the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes even if you don’t possess enough points for the full cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option to pay with dollars or points? But, be careful, if you do not have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points on one flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re a few points away, United also offers the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points, but not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you join your points with your relatives to earn points twice as fast. Be sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca You’re probably quite thrifty and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. But don’t fret 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 to pay for your rent with a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually about 3%. It might be worth it over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the required spending is to pay for the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future Ask your relatives if you could pay their medical bills and they can pay you back.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider paying them off with an credit card. Make sure to pay off the balance on your credit card in full so you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Discuss your family with them and determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Just make sure you have confidence in the person you are talking to and they know why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and be ready to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you planning to.
There are a lot of methods to get the most of your travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to meet the minimum spend to earn your credit card, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover these costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday costs
Another way to hit the minimum spend in order to accumulate points by using your credit card to pay for every day expenditures. This can include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, including eating out or travelling. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Think about a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance onto the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card, and evaluate the benefits of different redemption options. For instance, using points to book a flight directly through the airline may give you a better return than using them for a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a Hotel rewards programme. This gives an access larger variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits which are not available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, discover if your credit card offers some perks that could reduce your travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
When you travel with a friend and both of you earn rewards with your credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost on the same card, and be sure to track your rewards separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of your credit card in the most effective method possible. By using all of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide assortment of travel-related perks.