Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to convert sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to get discounted or even complimentary flights for your dream destinations. With a 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 all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to review your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best price. It all comes down to the amount of miles or points in your travel bank for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? The first step is to open the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that offer various benefits and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are perfect for travel hacking:
- 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 need to reach the minimum spend limit in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so make certain to verify the details. From there you can begin to rack up miles, and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your goals?
After you’ve accrued the points balance, you’re ready to use them towards sweet vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your points, but here are some examples from some of the companies I’ve worked with:
Take a trip by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase card, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll have access to virtually every airline, and you can combine points and cash to book your travel. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got the balance for it! Sometimes even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total price, you can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying with either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on flights. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of point short United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s which allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue dollar or points but not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature where you can pool your points together with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for the credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there and are 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 using a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually at least 3 percent. It might be worth it over the long term when the bonus is large 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 coming up then ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they’ll repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider repaying them using your credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all of your gifts with the credit card you have. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and be ready for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were already contemplating to.
There are many ways to make the most from using your credit or debit card for travel and earn miles or points to spend on the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight, rental car, and any other travel expenses. In addition, you’ll be able to hit the minimum spend for your credit card reward, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover the costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is using your credit card for everyday costs. This could be things like gas, groceries and even your telephone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Benefit from bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, including eating out or travelling. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance onto the travel credit card which has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
When you’ve earned a significant amount of points or miles make sure you use them in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For example, using points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility in making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or hotel rewards program. This can give you access to a wider selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be available through the rewards program of your credit card.
Also, find out if your credit card offers certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related costs. Some cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that are extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card and make sure you keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to maximizing your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most effective method. Through an array of methods I’ve described that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.