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 a fun way to convert credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a little creativity and some insider knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards permit you to use miles towards hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking travel is taking 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 cost is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to check your frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best deal. It all boils down to the amount of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to travel hacking? First step to open a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide a variety of features and benefits. It all depends on your preferred airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be perfect to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit card, you’ll have to meet the minimum spend limit in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different rules, so make sure to check for this information. Then it’s all about building miles and then using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, it’s time to use them towards nice vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have a Chase credit card, then you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll have access to virtually every airline. You can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can even book entirely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the total cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with 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 can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? Be careful in case you don’t have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars on one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few point short United also offers the option to purchase additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points but not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to join your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. 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 I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. Don’t worry as we’ve done 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 to pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3 percent. It may be worth it over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the required spending is to pay for the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses due then ask your family members to pay for theirs and they’ll reimburse you.
Pay off the loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about paying them off with an credit card. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card in full so you don’t accumulate additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Just make sure you trust the person and they are aware of the reason for taking the initiative.
If it’s the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts using your credit card. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be prepared for giving gifts. Be sure to avoid paying more than you contemplating to.
There are many methods to get the most of the travel credit card and accrue points or miles to spend on airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more suggestions for maximising 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 flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum spend to earn your credit card reward, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for the expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement and earn points is utilising your credit cards for every day expenses. This could be things like gas, groceries, and even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and avail any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off your debts without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
When you’ve earned a significant amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For instance you can use points to book a flight directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them to purchase the purchase of a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to have a wider range of options and greater freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a Hotel rewards programme. This will give the benefit of a wider selection of hotels, flights, and other travel perks which are not offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine the card’s benefits. some perks that could reduce your travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion and both of you earn rewards with your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card, and be sure to keep track of your rewards separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to reaping the maximum benefits from your rewards for travel is to be aware of your credit card’s rewards program and make sure you’re making use of your credit card in the most effective way possible. By using a combination of the strategies I’ve listed that you can earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.