Are you tired of paying a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or free flights to your dream destinations. With a little bit of imagination and some know-how, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about trading credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. These miles can then be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight take a look at the price. If the price is less than $300, it’s best to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise higher than $500, it’s best to check those frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best deal. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening an account that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer many benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and the features that are most crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards perfect for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll have to meet the limit of spending minimum in order to get the bonus. Every card has different rules, so make sure to look up this information. Then, it’s all about racking miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some delicious travel! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within it, you’ll get access to nearly every airline and you can make use of a combination of money and points to pay for your travel. You can book your flight entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not possess enough points for the total price, you can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
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 of paying with dollars or points? Be careful in case you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for flights. If you’re just a few points short, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant travel experience that includes extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s that allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. However, JetBlue has a unique feature that allows you to combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for credit card bonuses. Don’t worry, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share some of our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent with credit card, then do it! Make sure you be charged a fee, typically at least 3 percent. It may be worth it in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the spending limit is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up then ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they’ll repay you.
Make a payment to pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider making payments on them with an credit card. Make sure to pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to look into 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 understand why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and be ready for giving gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you planning to.
There are plenty of methods to get the most of the travel credit card. accrue points or miles to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ways to maximize your rewards:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use the travel credit card to book your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. Not only will you achieve the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card bonus and earn points, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on the costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement to earn rewards is making use of your credit card to pay every day costs. This could include things like food, gas, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, like dining or travel. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and avail any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer the balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points prudently
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 compare the worth of various redemption options. For example using your points to purchase a flight directly with the airline might give you a better return than using them for a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a Hotel rewards programme. This can give the benefit of a greater variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that may not be available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, discover if your credit card offers certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
When you travel with someone else, both of you can earn rewards using your credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card, and be sure you keep track of your rewards separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and make sure you’re making use of this program in the most effective method possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.