Are you tired of paying a fortune on airfare? 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 airline miles that can then be used to obtain discounted or cheap flights from your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and some know-how, you’ll fly for no cost in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus and rewards for airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking your travel plans 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 it comes time to make a booking consider the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to check the frequent flyer account and find out which airline will give you the most value. It all comes down to the number of miles or points in your travel account for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets of travel hacking? The first step is opening an account with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide many benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are great 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 reach the limit of spending minimum in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different rules, so make sure to check for the details. Then, it’s all about racking miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your goals?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some sweet vacation! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase credit card, then you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll have access to almost every airline and you can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your next trip. You can even book entirely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes even if you do not be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for entire cost, you are able to purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying using either points or dollars? Butbe aware, if you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars for flights. No worries though, if you’re a few points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines that allows customers to book using either JetBlue dollar or points, however, not both. But, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that lets you join your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. 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 or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. 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 a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually at least 3 percent. It may be worth it in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to pay for the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up Ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they will pay you back.
Make a payment to pay off a loan
If you have any loans take into consideration repaying them using your credit card. Just make sure you pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Talk to your family and see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they are aware of the reason for doing this.
If it’s the holiday season, consider buying all of your gifts with cards from your credit account. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be ready for gift giving. Be sure to avoid paying more than you thinking of.
There are plenty of ways to make the most from using your credit or debit card for travel and accrue points or miles to use towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ways to maximize your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a vacation, make use of you travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you achieve the minimum amount of spending required to qualify for a credit card reward, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover the costs.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement and earn points is by using your credit card to pay every day expenses. This could be things like food, gas, and even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Make sure you review the rewards program of your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Think about a balance transfer
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
When you’ve earned a significant amount of points or miles, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For instance you can use your points to purchase a flight directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them for a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will allow you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility when redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a hotel rewards program. This will give the benefit of a greater range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks that aren’t accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
Also, find out the card’s benefits. certain benefits that will help you save money on travel costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
When you travel with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards using your credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure you keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re using it in the most efficient method. Through a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide range of travel perks.