Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles which can be used to get discounted or even cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a little bit of creativity and some insider information, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight consider the cost. If the flight is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to review your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the most value. It all boils down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? The first step is opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that offer many advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll need to hit the limit of spending minimum in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make sure to check for the details. Then, it’s all about racking up miles and then using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, it’s time to redeem them for some delicious getaway! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Escape by using 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. In it, you’ll get access to almost every airline. You can combine the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can even book entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you don’t possess enough points for the total cost, you still can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option to pay with either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points, you cannot combine points and dollars on flights. No worries though, if you’re just a few points away, United also offers the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is like United’s, allowing passengers to book flights using JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. 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 a huge one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, then do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually around 3%. It may be worth it over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the required spending is to pay for an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up then ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they can reimburse you.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you’re a borrower take into consideration making payments on them with an credit card. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accrue more debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and look into any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all of your gifts with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not paying more than you contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most out of your travel credit card and accrue points or miles to be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are some additional ideas for maximizing your rewards
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, make use of you travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend to earn your credit card bonus and earn points, but you’ll also earn points or miles for the costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points by making use of your credit card for everyday expenses. This can include items like groceries, gas, and even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t accrue interest charges.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, like eating out or travelling. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest and simultaneously assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize them wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use points to book a ticket directly with the airline could provide you with a greater return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you enjoy a greater variety 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 hotel rewards program. This gives you access to a larger variety of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that aren’t accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine whether your credit card has some perks that could reduce your travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend each of you will be able to get rewards on your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
The key to making the most of your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and ensure that you’re using it in the most effective method. By using an array of strategies I’ve listed that you can get rewards in a short time, use them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.