Rice Alumni Travel

Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles, which you can use to get discounted or even free flights to your dream destinations. With a little bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.

The Basics of Travel Hacking

Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to pay for discount or no-cost flights. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental offers.

How Does it Work?

The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight consider the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to check the frequent flyer account and find out which airline will give you the most value. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for every airline.

Start with Travel Hacking

Are you ready to discover the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is to open a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that offer a variety of features and benefits. It is all dependent on the airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most important to you.

Top Credit Card Picks

Here are a few credit cards perfect 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 spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Every card has different rules, so make sure to check for this information. Then, it’s all about racking up miles, and using them to plan your dream vacation!

Ready to jet-set with your goals?

Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, you’re ready to use them towards sweet travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the providers I’ve had experience with:

Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you’re a holder of an Chase cards, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within this portal you’ll get access to virtually every airline and you can combine the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can even book completely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes even if you do not 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 with any credit card.

 

United

Are you tired of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option of paying using dollars or points? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for flights. If you’re just a few points away, United also offers the option of buying additional miles.

JetBlue

Are you looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is like United’s that allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars however, not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to join your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.

Make sure you spend that minimum amount

If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for a credit card bonus. Don’t worry, we’ve been through it and are here to share our tricks and tips.

Pay your rent (if you can)

This is an important one! If you’re able to pay for your rent with credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to be charged a fee, typically around 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the end if the bonus is high enough.

Make a payment on a medical expense

Another way to reach the required spending is to cover a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due, ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they’ll pay you back.

Repay the loan

If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration making payments on them with an credit card. Be sure to pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t accrue more debt.

Ask family for help

Discuss your family with them and determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Just make sure you have confidence in the person you are talking to and they understand why you’re doing this.

Give presents

If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts using your credit card. This way you can hit that minimum spend and be ready to give gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you already planning to.

There are plenty of ways to make the most out of your travel credit card and earn miles or points to use towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more ways to maximize the rewards you earn:

Make travel reservations using your credit card

When you’re planning your next trip, make use of your travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to meet the minimum spend to earn your credit card bonus, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on the expenditures.

Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenses

Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is by utilising your credit cards to pay for daily costs. This could include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.

Make the most of bonus categories

Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points for specific types of purchases, such as dining or travel. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.

Consider the possibility of transferring your balance

If you’re in the middle of a outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest and simultaneously help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.

Use your points or miles carefully

Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize them wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance 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 rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a hotel rewards program. This will give an access wider selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits which are not available through the rewards program on your credit card.

In addition, you should find out whether your credit card has any perks that can save you money on travel-related costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.

When you travel with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards using your credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card, and be sure to track your rewards separately.

The key to making the most of your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re making use of it in the most effective method possible. Through an array of strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.