Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and 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 knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in travel hacking is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the cost is less than $300, it’s best to pay cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to review the frequent flyer account to determine which airline offers you the most value. It all boils down to the amount of points or miles in your travel bank for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that provide many advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and the features that are most crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are great for travel hacking:
- 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 reach the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make sure to check for the details. From there it’s all about building miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your goals?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, it’s time to use them towards nice vacation! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Escape by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase card, you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll get access to virtually every airline. You can combine money and points to pay for your travel. You can even book completely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying with either points or dollars? Butbe aware in case you don’t have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points for flights. Don’t worry, though, if you’re a few points short, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines which allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature where you can combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Just make sure you can verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. But don’t fret as we’ve done it and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using credit card, go for it! Make sure you be charged a fee, typically about 3 percent. It might be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the required spending is to cover an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future then ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they’ll reimburse you.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider paying them off with an credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they understand why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all of your gifts with your credit card. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you thinking of.
There are many ways to make the most from your travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ways to maximize your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, use the travel credit card to book your hotel, flight, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. In addition, you’ll be able to meet the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card bonus as well, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover these expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for everyday expenses
Another way to meet the minimum spend to earn rewards is making use of your credit card to pay daily expenses. This can include things like gas, groceries, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, consider transferring that balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest and simultaneously assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use your points to purchase a flight directly with the airline could offer better value than using them for a gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer your rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you get a wider selection of options and greater flexibility in you want to redeem 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 can give an access wider range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits which are not available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, determine whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with a companion and both of you get rewards on your credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to know the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most efficient way possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.