Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your desired destinations. With a little imagination and some information, you’ll be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
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 pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking consider the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s best to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive 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 most value. It all boils down to the number of miles or points in your travel bank 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 the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that provide a variety of advantages and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be great to use for hacking travel:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If 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 card has different rules, so be certain to verify this information. From there it’s all about building miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your goals?
Now that you’ve built up the points amount, it’s time to redeem them for some nice getaway! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are some examples from some of the providers I’ve worked with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll have access to nearly every airline and you can combine points and cash to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes even if you do not possess enough points for the total cost, you are able to book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option to pay with either points or dollars? Be careful in case you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine dollars and points on one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few point short United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to pool your points together with your relatives to earn points twice as fast. Just make sure you can verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum spend 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 an important one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, then do it! Be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another way to reach the spending limit is to cover the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up, ask your relatives if you could pay their medical bills and they’ll reimburse you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider repaying them using your credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Just make sure you trust the person and they are aware of the reason for doing this.
If you’re celebrating the holidays you should consider purchasing all your gifts with the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you thinking of.
There are plenty of ways to get the most out of the travel credit card. You can earn miles or points to be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a vacation, make use of the travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend for your credit card bonus and earn points, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on the expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is using your credit card to pay every day expenditures. This could include things like gas, groceries and even your telephone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending habits.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, consider transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles 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 instance, using points to book a ticket directly through the airline may offer better value than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility in making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a hotel rewards program. This can give you access to a larger variety of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that may not be offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should find out whether your credit card has some perks that could save you money on travel-related costs. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
When you travel with a friend and both of you get rewards on your credit card. Just remember that you can’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and make sure you’re using this program in the most efficient way possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve listed in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad range of travel perks.