Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles which you can use to get discounted or even free flights to your desired destinations. With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of insider information, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to purchase discount or no-cost flights. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The secret to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards 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 less than $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. If your flights begin to climb above $500, you’ll want to review the frequent flyer account and find out which airline will give you the best deal. 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 travel hacking? The first step is opening the credit card that comes that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide a variety of features and benefits. It is all dependent on the 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 great to use for hacking travel:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll need to hit the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Each card has its own guidelines, so make sure to look up this information. Then you can begin to rack miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some sweet vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the providers I have experience with:
Getaway through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you own an Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within it, you’ll have access to nearly every airline, and you can combine money and points to book your travel. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got the funds to pay for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full cost, you still can 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 to pay with either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points, you cannot combine points and dollars on the same flight. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of point short United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points however, not both. But, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that allows you to join your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for a credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried as we’ve done it and we’re here to share 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 around 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the required spending is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due then ask your family members to pay their medical bills and they will pay you back.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration paying them off with an credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Ask your family members to see if they have any major expenses in the near future which you could help pay for. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they understand why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you were planning to.
There are many ways to make the most from using your credit or debit card for travel. You can accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only achieve the required amount to qualify for a credit card reward and earn points, but you’ll also earn points or miles on the expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay for all your daily expenses
Another way to hit the minimum spend to earn rewards is utilising your credit cards to pay for daily expenditures. This can include things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or points in exchange on certain kinds of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance onto the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will let you pay off the debt without accruing interest and simultaneously aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles, be sure to use them in a responsible manner. 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 through the airline may offer better return than using them for 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 will allow you to have a wider range of options and greater freedom when it comes to redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a reward program for hotels. This gives the benefit of a wider variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits which are not accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
In addition, you should find out whether your credit card has certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related costs. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion, both of you can get rewards on your credit card. Just remember that you can’t share the costs on the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re making use of it in the most effective method. Through an array of strategies I’ve listed that you can get rewards in a short time, use rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.