Are you tired of spending an enormous amount on flights? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles which can be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your dream destinations. With a bit of creativity and some insider information, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can then be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s best to pay cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to review the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the most value. All it boils down to is the amount of miles or points in your travel account for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is to open the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that offer various features and benefits. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards excellent for travel hacking:
- 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 minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to look up the details. From there you can begin to rack up miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
After you’ve accrued the points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some delicious travel! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are some examples from some of the providers I’ve had experience with:
Escape by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of a Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll have access to virtually every airline, and you can use a combination of money and points to pay for your trip. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying with dollars or points? Be careful that if you don’t have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points for flights. No worries though, if you’re a few points short, United provides the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is like United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points but not both. However, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that allows you to join your points with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Be 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 buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum spend for credit card bonuses. Don’t worry because we’ve been there and are here to share some of our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3 percent. It may be worth it in the long run when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the required spending is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up, ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they can repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you have any loans take into consideration making payments on them with the credit card you have. Make sure to pay the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Discuss your family with them and determine if they’ve got any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to are able to trust the person and that they know why you’re doing it.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts using your credit card. This way you can hit that minimum spend and also be ready for giving gifts. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you already planning to.
There are many ways to make the most out of the travel credit card and earn miles or points to use towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel expenses. You’ll not only achieve the required amount for your credit card bonus as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles for the expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum spend and earn points is by using your credit card for everyday expenses. This could include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Benefit from bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points for specific types of purchases, such as dining or travel. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance onto a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will let you pay off the debt without accruing interest and simultaneously aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points Make sure to utilize them in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card and compare the value of different redemption options. For example you can use points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may offer better value than using them for an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to have a wider range of choices and more freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or reward program for hotels. This gives the benefit of a greater variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that aren’t offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine 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.
If you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost on the same card and make sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of it in the most effective way possible. Through all of the methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.