Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, which you can use to obtain discounted or cheap flights from your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can 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 buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful travel hacking is to take 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 price is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to check the frequent flyer account to see which airline can give you the best deal. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles in your travel bank for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? First step opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards with various benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your spending habits, and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are perfect to use for hacking 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 reach the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to receive the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to check for this information. Then it’s all about building up miles, and using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your points?
After you’ve accrued your points balance, it’s time to use them towards nice travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Getaway through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll get access to nearly every airline. You can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your travel. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have the balance for it! Sometimes even if you don’t have enough points to cover the full cost, you still can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United You have the option to pay with either points or dollars? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars for one flight. If you’re a few points short, United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. However, JetBlue has a unique feature where you can pool your points together with your relatives to earn points twice as fast. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. But don’t fret as we’ve done it and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent with credit card, go for it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually around 3 percent. It could be worthwhile over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the spending limit is to cover the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up, ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they’ll pay you back.
Pay off the loan
If you have any loans take into consideration 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 accumulate additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Ask your family members to see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they understand why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts with the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you were contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most out of your travel credit card. earn miles or points to use towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, use the travel credit card to book your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card as well, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for those costs.
Use your credit card for everyday expenditures
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement to earn rewards is making use of your credit card to pay for daily expenses. This can include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Think about a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will let you pay off your debt without accruing interest and simultaneously assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For example, using your points to book a flight directly with the airline might provide you with a greater value than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will let you have a wider range of choices and more freedom when it comes to making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a reward program for hotels. This will give you access to a wider range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks that aren’t offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, find out whether your credit card has any perks that can reduce your travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that are extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can earn rewards using your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card and make sure to keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do to maximizing your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient method. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide assortment of travel-related perks.