Are you tired of paying thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to convert bonus and sign-up incentives into miles which can be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of insider know-how, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and incentives for airline miles. These miles can then be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles for hotel stays and car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for successful travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and to establish frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the flight is less than $300, it’s best to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to look into the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the best price. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles you have you have in your travel savings account for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening an account that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards with many features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are excellent 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 hit the limit of spending minimum in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different guidelines, so make sure to look up 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 points?
After you’ve accrued the points amount, it’s time to redeem them for some nice travel! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your points, but here are a few examples from some of the companies I’ve worked with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have an Chase card, you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to almost every airline. You can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your trip. You can even book entirely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total cost, you are able to book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying using dollars or points? Be careful that if you do not have enough points you cannot combine points and dollars for flights. No worries though, if you’re a few points away, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s that allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you join your points with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Just make sure you can 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 I’m sure you’re 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. But don’t fret, we’ve been through it and are here to share 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! Be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3%. It might be worth it 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 minimum spend is to pay for the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses due, ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they can reimburse you.
Pay off the loan
If you’re a borrower, consider paying them off with your credit card. Just make sure you pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to trust the person and they know why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready for giving gifts. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you were planning to.
There are plenty of ways to get the most from the travel credit card and accrue points or miles to use towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are some additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, make use of your travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. You’ll not only achieve the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on those expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points making use of your credit card for every day expenses. This could include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off 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 on certain kinds of purchases, like dining or travel. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance onto 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 help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles make sure you use them wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card, and evaluate the value of different redemption options. For instance, using points to book a flight directly through the airline may offer better value than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you have a wider range of options and greater freedom when it comes to making use of your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a reward program for hotels. This gives an access wider range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits that aren’t available through the rewards program on your credit card.
In addition, you should find out whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that could be 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 split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure to track your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re making use of it in the most effective method. Through all of the strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.