Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting method to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles which can be used to get discounted or even free flights to your desired destinations. With a bit of creativity and some insider information, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can then be used to buy discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking travel is taking advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight consider the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and save your miles to book a higher-priced flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to check those frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best deal. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles you have in your travel bank for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is to open the credit card that comes with a sign-up bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that offer many advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your spending habits, and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards perfect to use for hacking 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 reach the minimum spend limit in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to look up this information. From there, it’s all about racking up miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some nice vacation! Different credit card providers will offer different ways to redeem your points. Here are some examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Escape by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In it, you’ll get access to virtually every airline, and you can use a combination of points and cash to book your next trip. You can even book entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for total cost, you still can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option to pay with dollars or points? Be careful in case you do not have enough points you cannot combine dollars and points on one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few point short United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience , with more 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 your family members and earn points twice as fast. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum spend for the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, 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 pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to be charged a fee, typically around 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the minimum spend is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future then ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they’ll repay you.
Make a payment to pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about making payments on them with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any major expenses in the near future which you could help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they are aware of the reason for taking the initiative.
If it’s the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts using cards from your credit account. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be ready for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you planning to.
There are plenty of ways to make the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel. You can earn miles or points to use towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are some additional ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a vacation, make use of the travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the required amount for your credit card bonus and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on these costs.
Make use of your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending and earn points is by using your credit card for every day costs. This can include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, like dining or travel. Make sure you review the rewards program of your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest 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 transfer. This will let you pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For example using points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may offer better value than using them for a gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of choices and more freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a hotel rewards program. This can give an access wider variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should discover if your credit card offers any perks that can reduce your travel costs. Some cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that are extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
When you travel with someone else and both of you get rewards on your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card. Also, make sure to track your rewards separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and ensure that you’re using this program in the most efficient way possible. By using all of the strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and take advantage of a broad range of travel perks.