Are you tired of paying thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles which can be used to score discounted or free flights to your dream 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 exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to pay for discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking travel is taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and to establish a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking take a look at the price. If the flight is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to look into those frequent flyer accounts to see which airline can give you the best deal. It all comes down to the amount of miles or points in your travel account for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? First step to open a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide a variety of features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards great 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 have to meet the minimum spend limit in order to qualify for the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make sure to look up this information. Then, it’s all about racking up miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
After you’ve accrued the points amount, it’s time to cash them in for some nice getaway! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of a Chase card, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to almost every airline and you can make use of a combination of money and points to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the entire 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 flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying with either points or dollars? Be careful, if you don’t have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars on one flight. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of point short United also offers the option to purchase additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience , with more space and complimentary snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to that of United Airlines which allows you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. But, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that lets you combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for credit card bonuses. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and are here to share some of our tips and tricks.
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! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually at least 3%. It could be worthwhile in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the required spending is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up Ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they can pay you back.
Make a payment to pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration repaying them using your credit card. Make sure to pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and determine if they’ve got any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they know why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all of your gifts with cards from your credit account. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready to give gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were already contemplating to.
There are many methods to get the most out of the travel credit card and earn miles or points to use towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a vacation, make use of the travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only achieve the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card and earn points, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on these costs.
Use your credit card for everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum spend in order to accumulate points using your credit card for everyday expenditures. This can include things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for certain types of purchases, including dining or travel. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring the balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will let you pay off your debt without accruing interest and simultaneously aid in achieving the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles make sure you use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card, and evaluate the benefits of different redemption options. For example using your points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may offer better value than using them to purchase an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you have a wider range of options and greater flexibility when redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a reward program for hotels. This gives an access greater range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits that may not be accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to find out whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Be aware that you cannot split the cost on the same card, and be sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to making the most of your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and make sure you’re making use of this program in the most efficient way possible. Through a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad assortment of travel-related perks.