Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles that can then be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider know-how, 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 as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to buy discount or no-cost flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking take a look at the price. If the price is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to review your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the most value. It all boils down to the number of miles or points in your travel account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that provide many advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and the features that are most crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are excellent 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 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 the details. From there it’s all about building miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
Once you’ve accumulated the points amount, it’s time to cash them in for some delicious vacation! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your points, but here are a few examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Escape by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase card, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In this portal you’ll have access to nearly every airline and you can combine 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 possess enough points for the full cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying using dollars or points? Be careful that if you do not have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars on flights. Don’t worry, though, if you’re just a few point short United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is like United’s which allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue either dollars or points but not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you combine your points 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 into the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for credit card bonuses. Don’t worry, we’ve been through it and are here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually at least 3%. It might be worth it in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the spending limit is to cover an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due, ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they will repay you.
Repay the loan
If you have any loans take into consideration paying them off with your credit card. Be sure to pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any large expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they are aware of the reason for doing it.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts with your credit card. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and be ready for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to make the most from your travel credit card. accrue points or miles to use towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use you travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. Not only will you achieve the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles on these expenses.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday costs
Another way to hit the minimum spend and earn points is by utilising your credit cards for daily expenditures. This can include items like groceries, gas or 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
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, like dining or travel. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing debt on a credit card, consider transferring the balance to an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points, be sure to use them in a responsible manner. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance, using your points to purchase a flight directly with the airline might give you a better value than using them to purchase an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of options and greater freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or hotel rewards program. This can give you access to a greater range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks that aren’t offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
Additionally, try to find out if your credit card offers some perks that could save you money on travel-related expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with a companion and both of you earn rewards with your credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card, and be sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most effective way possible. Through a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and take advantage of a broad range of travel perks.