Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting method to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into miles that can then be used to obtain discounted or free flights to your desired destinations. With a bit of creativity and some insider knowledge, you can 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 and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and establishing a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight take a look at the price. If the cost 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 over $500, you’ll need to look into your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best price. It all boils down to the amount of points or miles in your travel bank for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets of travel hacking? First step to open a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that provide a variety of features and benefits. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be perfect to hack 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 receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make sure to look up this information. From there it’s all about building miles and then using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Now that you’ve built up the points amount, it’s time to cash them in for some delicious getaway! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from some of the providers I’ve had experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you’re a holder of a Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. In it, you’ll get access to virtually every airline. You can make use of a combination of points and cash to pay for your trip. You can even book completely on points if you have the balance for it! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the total price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option to pay 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 provides the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides an enjoyable and comfortable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points, but not both. The difference is that JetBlue offers a distinct feature where you can combine your points with your relatives to earn points twice as fast. Be sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s challenging to attempt to spend 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 our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay for your rent with credit card, go for it! Be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3%. It might be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the minimum spend is to cover an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due then ask your family members to pay their medical bills and they will pay you back.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about paying them off with the credit card you have. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Talk to your family and determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they understand why you’re doing this.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and be ready to give gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were already thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to get the most of the travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of your travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight, rental car, and any other travel expenses. Not only will you achieve the required amount to qualify for a credit card as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles for these expenditures.
Use your credit card for everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum spending requirement and earn points is making use of your credit card to pay for everyday costs. This can include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange on certain kinds of purchases, like dining or travel. Be sure to review the rewards program of 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 have existing debt on a credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to the travel credit card which has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles, be sure to use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and compare the value of different redemption options. For example you can use your points to book a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater value than using them for an gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer your reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or Hotel rewards programme. This gives the benefit of a greater variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that aren’t accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should discover if your credit card offers any perks that can save you money on travel-related costs. Some cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card. Also, make sure you keep track of your rewards separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re using your credit card in the most effective way possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.