Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to convert sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles which can be used to score discounted or free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little creativity and some insider knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also permit you to use miles for hotel stays and car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight consider the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles to book a higher-priced flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to look into your frequent flyer accounts to find out which airline will give you the best deal. It all boils down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening an account with a sign-up bonus. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that provide many features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are great to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll need to reach the minimum spend limit in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different guidelines, so make sure to look up the details. From there, it’s all about racking up miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your goals?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some nice vacation! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from some of the companies I’ve worked with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In this portal you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can use a combination of 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 entire price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with any credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option of paying using dollars or points? Be careful that if you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for the same flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is like United’s which allows you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points, but not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to join your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can 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 frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. But don’t fret, we’ve been through it 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 using a credit card, do it! Be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3%. It might be worth it over the long term if the bonus is high 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 don’t have any medical bills in the near future then ask your family members if you can pay their medical bills and they will reimburse you.
Repay a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about making payments on them with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Talk to your family and see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to are able to trust the person and that they understand why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all your gifts using your credit card. This way you can hit that minimum spend and be ready for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to get the most of your travel credit card and earn miles or points to use towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing your rewards
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a vacation, make use of you travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. In addition, you’ll be able to meet the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover the expenses.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenses
Another method to reach the minimum amount of spending and earn points is by utilising your credit cards to pay for every day costs. This could include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer bonus points or miles for specific types of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles, be sure to use them in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card and compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance, using your points to book a flight directly with the airline could 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 will let you have a wider range of choices and more freedom when it comes to redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a Hotel rewards programme. This will give the benefit of a wider selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits which are not accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
In addition, you should discover the card’s benefits. some perks that could reduce your travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that could be very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend and both of you earn rewards using your credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost 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 travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most effective way possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve listed in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards quickly, redeem rewards for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad range of travel perks.