Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to convert credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles that can then be used to obtain discounted or free flights to your dream destinations. With a little imagination and some know-how, you’ll fly for no cost in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. These miles can later be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles for hotel stays and car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight take a look at the price. If the flight is under $300, it’s usually better 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 review the frequent flyer account and see which airline can give you the most value. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles in your travel bank for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to travel hacking? First step opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards with many benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be perfect to use for hacking travel:
- 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 minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Every card has different guidelines, so make sure to look up this information. Then, it’s all about racking up miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, it’s time to use them towards sweet vacation! Different credit card providers will offer different ways to redeem your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of a Chase card, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll get access to almost every airline. You can use a combination of points and cash to pay for your travel. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for total cost, you are able to purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price 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 aren’t able to combine points and dollars for flights. No worries though, if you’re just a few point short United provides the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is like United’s which allows customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. Don’t worry as we’ve done it and we’re here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using credit card, then do it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually at least 3%. It may be worth it in the long run in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to pay for a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future then ask your relatives if you could pay their medical bills and they can pay you back.
Pay off the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider repaying them using an credit card. Be sure to pay off the balance on your credit card in full , so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can help pay for. Just make sure you 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 of your gifts with the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you already planning to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most of using your credit or debit card for travel and earn miles or points to be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of your travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum spend to earn your credit card, but you’ll also earn points or miles for those expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenses
Another way to meet the minimum spend to earn rewards is making use of your credit card for daily expenditures. This can include things like food, gas, and even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accumulate interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, you might want to transfer that balance onto the travel credit card which has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles make sure you use them in a responsible manner. Examine the rewards program of 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 provide you with a greater value than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will allow you to get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a hotel rewards program. This will give you access to a wider selection of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that may not be available through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should find out if your credit card offers any perks that can save you money on travel-related expenses. Some cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
When you travel with someone else and both of you earn rewards using your credit card. Just remember that you can’t divide the cost with the same card. Also, make sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and make sure you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient way possible. By using an array of methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.