Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to convert bonus and sign-up incentives into miles which you can use to obtain discounted or free flights to your dream destinations. With a little imagination and a little bit of insider information, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The secret to success in travel hacking 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 you are ready to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s best to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. If the prices start to rise higher than $500, it’s best to review the frequent flyer account and determine which airline offers you the best deal. All it boils down to is the amount of points or miles you have in your travel account for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is to open an account with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that offer a variety of benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, spending habits and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few 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 qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so be certain to verify this information. Then it’s all about building up miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your goals?
After you’ve accrued the points amount, it’s time to redeem them for some sweet vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Getaway with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of a Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to virtually every airline, and you can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your trip. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying with either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine dollars and points on one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points, however, not both. But, JetBlue offers a distinct feature where you can pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Make sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to 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 difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there and are here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able pay your rent with credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually about 3 percent. It could be worthwhile over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the required spending is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due then ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they can repay you.
Repay the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about repaying them using your credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate additional debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they know why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season you should consider purchasing all of your gifts with the credit card you have. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be prepared for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you already contemplating to.
There are many ways to make the most of the travel credit card and earn miles or points to be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ways to maximize your rewards
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
If 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 expenses. You’ll not only be able to meet the minimum amount of spending required for your credit card bonus and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover those expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum spend in order to accumulate points by using your credit card for every day expenditures. This can include things like gas, groceries and even your telephone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, consider transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points make sure you use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card, and evaluate the worth of various redemption options. For example you can use your points to book a ticket directly with the airline could provide you with a greater value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will let you get a wider selection of options and greater flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a reward program for hotels. This gives an access larger variety of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks which are not accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, find out whether your credit card has certain benefits that will reduce your travel costs. 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 a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards with your credit card. Be aware that you cannot split the cost on the same card, and be sure you keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to making the most of your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re using it in the most efficient way possible. Utilizing an array of strategies I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.