Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking could 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, that can then be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can travel for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. The miles can be used to pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking consider the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s best to pay cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to review those frequent flyer accounts and determine which airline offers you the best deal. It all boils down to the number of miles or points in your travel account for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is opening a credit card with a sign-up bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards with a variety of advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and what features are crucial 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
If you’ve been approved for a credit or debit card, you’ll have to meet the limit of spending minimum in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to look up this information. Then you can begin to rack miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your goals?
Once you’ve accumulated your points amount, it’s time to redeem them for some nice getaway! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the providers I have experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have a Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In it, you’ll get access to nearly every airline, and you can combine the points as well as cash in order to pay for your travel. You can even book entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you don’t possess enough points for the full cost, you still can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? But, be careful, if you do not have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars on one flight. If you’re only a couple of points short, United gives you the possibility of purchasing 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. In addition, their booking procedure is like United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points, however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Be sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus. Don’t worry because we’ve been there and are here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, then do it! Make sure you be charged a fee, typically at least 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to pay for the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up then ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they will repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider repaying them using an credit card. Just make sure you pay the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any large expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they know why you’re doing it.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all your gifts with the credit card you have. This way you can hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you already thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to get the most out of your travel credit card. accumulate miles or points that you can use towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel expenses. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required for your credit card, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover these expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for everyday expenditures
Another method to reach the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points making use of your credit card to pay every day costs. This can include things like gas, groceries, and even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, such as dining or travel. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, consider transferring the balance to a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest and simultaneously assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance using your points to book a ticket directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them for an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a hotel rewards program. This gives the benefit of a wider selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that aren’t offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
Also, find out whether your credit card has some perks that could save you money on travel-related costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that could be very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with someone else and both of you earn rewards with your credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card and make sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
Overall, the key to maximizing your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of this program in the most effective method. Through all of the strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.