Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, which can be used to score discounted or free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little imagination and some knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and rewards for airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also allow you to redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and establishing a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to check your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best price. It all comes down to the amount of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? The first step is to open an account with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide a variety of features and benefits. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are perfect 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 hit the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make certain to verify the details. Then, it’s all about racking miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
After you’ve accrued your points amount, it’s time to cash them in for some delicious vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the ones I have experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you’re a holder of an Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll have access to almost every airline, and you can combine points and cash to pay for your travel. You can even book completely using points if you’ve got the balance for it! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the total price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you realize that when booking directly through United, you have the option to pay with either points or dollars? Butbe aware in case you don’t have enough points, you cannot combine points and dollars on the same flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few points away, United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is like United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars, however, not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Make sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay for your rent with a credit card, do it! Make sure you be charged a fee, typically around 3%. It could be worthwhile in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the spending limit is to pay for the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future then ask your relatives if you could pay them for theirs, and they will reimburse you.
Repay the loan
If you’re a borrower, consider making payments on them with your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to look into any large expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they understand why you’re doing it.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using your credit card. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and be ready for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you contemplating to.
There are a lot of methods to get the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel. You can earn miles or points to spend on flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card to book your hotel, flight, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. In addition, you’ll be able to hit the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card reward, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover these expenditures.
Use your credit card for all your daily expenses
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points by making use of your credit card to pay everyday expenditures. This could be things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer bonus points or miles for specific types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending habits.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off your debts without accruing interest and simultaneously aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card, and evaluate the worth of various redemption options. For instance using your points to book a flight directly through the airline may give you a better return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer your reward points into other loyalty programmes. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility when redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be capable of transferring your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a reward program for hotels. This will give the benefit of a wider variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that may not be accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
In addition, you should find out if your credit card offers some perks that could help you save money on travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that could be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
If you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can get rewards on your credit card. Just remember that you can’t share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure you keep track of your rewards separately.
Overall, the key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and make sure you’re using it in the most effective method. By using all of the methods I’ve described that you can earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.