Are you tired of spending an enormous amount on flights? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting method to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles which you can use to score discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a little imagination and some 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 rewards for airline miles. The miles can be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The secret to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight consider the cost. If the cost is less than $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 over $500, you’ll need to look into those frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best deal. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is to open a credit card with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer a variety of advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards perfect to use for hacking travel:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll need to reach the limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make certain to verify the details. From there you can begin to rack up miles, and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
After you’ve accrued your points balance, it’s time to redeem them for some delicious travel! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are some examples from a few of the ones I’ve worked with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase cards, you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll get access to almost every airline, and you can combine money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book completely on points if you have the balance for it! Sometimes even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for total cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying using dollars or points? Butbe aware in case you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine points and dollars on the same flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re just a few point short United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines that allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Make 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 like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum spend for credit card bonuses. However, don’t be worried because we’ve been there and we’re here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able pay your rent with credit card, then do it! Just be prepared to be charged a fee, typically around 3%. It may be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the minimum spend is to pay for a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due then ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they will repay you.
Pay off the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration paying them off with the credit card you have. 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 members for assistance
Ask your family members to see if they have any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they are aware of the reason for doing this.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all your gifts with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not paying more than you planning to.
There are many ways to make the most of your travel credit card. accumulate miles or points that you can use towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are some additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of the travel credit card to book your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as other travel costs. In addition, you’ll be able to hit the minimum spend for your credit card bonus as well, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover these expenditures.
Use your credit card for all your daily expenses
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement and earn points is making use of your credit card for every day expenditures. This could be items like groceries, gas, and even your phone bill. Make sure you pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles for specific types of purchases, like eating out or traveling. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending routines.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, consider transferring that balance to a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the value of different redemption options. For example using points to book a flight directly with the airline could give you a better return than using them for a gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to have a wider range of options and greater flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or reward program for hotels. This gives you access to a larger range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks which are not available through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should determine whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
When you travel with a companion, both of you can earn rewards using your credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re making use of this program in the most efficient method. By using an array of methods I’ve described in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.