Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles which can be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles towards hotel stays or rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and establishing a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight consider the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles to book a higher-priced flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to review the frequent flyer account and determine which airline offers you the most value. It all boils down to the number of points or miles in your travel bank for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that offer many benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some 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 limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to check for the details. Then you can begin to rack up miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your points?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, you’re ready to use them towards delicious getaway! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are a few examples from some of the providers I’ve worked with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you’re a holder of an Chase credit card, then you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll get access to almost every airline and you can use a combination of points and cash to book your travel. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have the balance for it! Sometimes even if you do not be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full cost, you are able to book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you fed up of paying full price for flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying with dollars or points? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you aren’t able to combine points and dollars for flights. No worries though, if you’re a few point short United also offers the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides an enjoyable and comfortable travel experience that includes extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s which allows customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points however, 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 fast. Be sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars in order to meet the required amount to qualify for credit card bonuses. But don’t fret, we’ve been through 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 using credit card, go for it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually about 3 percent. It might be worth it in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the spending limit is to cover a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due Ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they will pay you back.
Repay a loan
If you have any loans take into consideration repaying them using the credit card you have. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any major expenses in the near future which you could help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they understand why you’re doing it.
If it’s the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts with your credit card. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready to give gifts. Be sure to avoid paying more than you already planning to.
There are plenty of methods to get the most of using your credit or debit card for travel. You can accumulate miles or points that you can use towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing your rewards
Make travel reservations using your credit card
If you’re planning a vacation, make use of the travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. You’ll not only achieve the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card reward, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for the expenditures.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday expenses
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement and earn points is using your credit card to pay daily expenditures. This could include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Make sure you review the rewards program of your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending habits.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance to a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will let you pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For example, using your points to book a flight directly with the airline could provide you with a greater value than using them for a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility when you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a reward program for hotels. This can give the benefit of a wider variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that aren’t accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
In addition, you should determine if your credit card offers some perks that could help you save money on travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with someone else and both of you earn rewards with your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure to track your rewards separately.
Overall, the key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re using it in the most efficient way possible. Utilizing all of the methods I’ve described that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.