Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles that can then be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a bit of 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 the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful travel hacking is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s best to pay cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to review the frequent flyer account and determine which airline offers you the most value. All it boils down to is the amount of miles or points in your travel bank for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets of travel hacking? First step opening an account with a sign-up bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide a variety of benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most crucial 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 or debit card, you’ll have to meet the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to receive the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so be sure to check for the details. Then, it’s all about racking up miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some sweet getaway! Different credit card companies offer different ways to redeem your rewards, here are some examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have a Chase card, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll get access to nearly every airline. You can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your trip. You can even book completely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying with dollars or points? But, be careful in case you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United gives you the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines which allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, however, not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature where you can join your points with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars in order to meet the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there and are here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able to pay your rent with credit card, go for it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually around 3%. It may be worth it over the long term when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future then ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they’ll pay you back.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about repaying them using your credit card. Make sure to pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to look into any large expenses coming up which you could help pay 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 it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using cards from your credit account. This way you can hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you planning to.
There are many ways to make the most of the travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a vacation, make use of you travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the required amount to qualify for a credit card reward and earn points, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on the 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 to pay for every day expenses. This can include things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending habits.
Think about a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will let you pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points, be sure to use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card, and evaluate the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use your points to book a ticket directly with the airline could offer better value than using them for a gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to get a wider selection of options and greater flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a reward program for hotels. This can give an access larger variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, determine the card’s benefits. any perks that can reduce your travel costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with a companion, both of you can earn rewards using your own credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
The key to maximizing your rewards for travel is to be aware of your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re using this program in the most effective method possible. Through all of the strategies I’ve outlined that you can get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.