Are you tired of paying an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles that can then be used to score discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider know-how, you’ll fly for no cost within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles for hotel stays and car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight consider the cost. If the flight is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to check those frequent flyer accounts and determine which airline offers you the best deal. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles in your travel bank for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is to open a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards with a variety of benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be perfect to hack 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 limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make sure to check for the details. From there, it’s all about racking up miles, and using them to plan your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, it’s time to use them towards delicious getaway! Different credit card companies will offer different ways to redeem your points. Here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have an Chase card, you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within this portal you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can use a combination of points and cash to book your travel. You can even book entirely on points if you have 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 are able to purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? Be careful that if you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for flights. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United also offers the option to purchase additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature where you can combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Make 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 buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for credit card bonuses. However, don’t be worried because we’ve been there and we’re here to share some of our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able pay your rent using a credit card, do it! Be prepared to pay a fee, usually about 3%. It could be worthwhile in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the required spending is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due, ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they can repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration making payments on them with your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Just make sure you have confidence in the person you are talking to and they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re celebrating the holidays you should consider purchasing all of your gifts with your credit card. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready to give gifts. Be sure to avoid paying more than you thinking of.
There are a lot of methods to get the most out of the travel credit card. accrue points or miles to spend on flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. In addition, you’ll achieve the minimum amount of spending required for your credit card and earn points, but you’ll also earn points or miles for the expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to meet the minimum spend in order to accumulate points making use of your credit card to pay every day costs. This could include things like gas, groceries, and even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, like eating out or traveling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off your debts without accruing interest. It will also help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance using your points to book a ticket directly through the airline may give you a better value than using them to purchase an gift card.
Another option is to get a rewards card that allows you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a Hotel rewards programme. This will give an access larger selection of hotels, flights, and other travel perks which are not available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, find out if your credit card offers certain benefits that will help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can get rewards on your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure to keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re using it in the most effective way possible. Through all of the strategies I’ve listed 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 assortment of travel-related perks.