Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to convert sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to get discounted or even cheap flights from your desired destinations. With a little bit of creativity and some insider information, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all 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 allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and building out frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight consider the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting higher than $500, it’s best to check those frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best price. It all boils down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel bank for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is to open an account with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards with a variety of features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be great 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 have to meet the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be certain to verify the details. Then you can begin to rack up miles, and using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your goals?
After you’ve accrued your points amount, it’s time to use them towards delicious travel! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll get access to nearly every airline and you can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the full 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 your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? Butbe aware that if you do not have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars on one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points, however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you combine your points with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Make sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything 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 required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. 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 a huge one! If you’re able 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 in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the required spending is to cover an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future, ask your family members if you can pay their medical bills and they can reimburse you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider making payments on them with your credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to look into any big expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Make sure that you are able to are able to trust the person and that they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re celebrating the holidays take into consideration buying all your gifts using cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you already contemplating to.
There are plenty of ways to get the most from using your credit or debit card for travel and earn miles or points to use towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ways to maximize your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a vacation, make use of you travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. In addition, you’ll be able to meet the minimum amount of spending required to qualify for a credit card reward, but you’ll also earn points or miles on the expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending and earn points is making use of your credit card to pay for everyday expenses. This could include things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Make sure you pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or bonus points for specific types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, think about transferring the balance to a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest and simultaneously assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For instance using points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may give you a better value than using them for an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or hotel rewards program. This will give the benefit of a greater range of flights, hotels, and other travel perks that may not be accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to discover whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
When you travel with someone else, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Just remember that you can’t share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re making use of it in the most efficient method. By using a combination of the methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to get rewards in a short time, use rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.