Are you tired of paying an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or free flights to your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and some know-how, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also permit you to use miles for hotel stays and rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and establishing a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to check your frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best price. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that offer a variety of advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards perfect for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit or debit card, you’ll need to hit the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to check for this information. From there it’s all about building miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
After you’ve accrued the points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some sweet getaway! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are some examples from a few of the companies I have experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have an Chase credit card, then you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within 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 pay for your travel. You can even book entirely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full price, you can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with any credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for 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 dollars and points on one flight. If you’re a few points away, United gives you the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines that allows you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. But, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that lets you pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried 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 credit card, go for it! Make sure you pay a cost, which is usually at least 3 percent. It might be worth it in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the minimum spend is to cover a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up, ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they can reimburse you.
Repay a loan
If you have any loans, consider repaying them using your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card in full so you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family for help
Discuss your family with them and look into any major expenses in the near future that you can help pay for. Just make sure you have confidence in the person you are talking to and they understand why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts using the credit card you have. This way you can hit that minimum spend and also be ready for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you already contemplating to.
There are plenty of methods to get the most out of your travel credit card. You can accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ideas for maximizing your rewards
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required to qualify for a credit card reward, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover the expenditures.
Use your credit card for everyday costs
Another way to hit the minimum spend and earn points is making use of your credit card to pay everyday costs. This could be things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, like dining or travel. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Think about a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, you might want to transfer the balance to an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will let you pay off your debt without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points wisely
When you’ve earned a significant amount of miles or points make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for 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 return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will let you have a wider range of choices and more freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be capable of transferring your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or reward program for hotels. This gives the benefit of a greater range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks which are not available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, determine whether your credit card has certain benefits that will help you save money on travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with a friend and both of you earn rewards using your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure to keep track of your rewards separately.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of this program in the most efficient way possible. Through 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 assortment of travel-related perks.