Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into miles which you can use to score discounted or cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider know-how, you’ll fly for no cost in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and to establish frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. If the prices start to rise over $500, you’ll need to look into your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best price. All it boils down to is the number of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards with a variety of features and benefits. It is all dependent on the airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards excellent 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 hit the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Every card has different guidelines, so make sure to look up the details. Then, it’s all about racking miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some delicious vacation! Different credit card providers will offer different ways to redeem your points. Here are some examples from some of the companies I’ve worked with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to nearly every airline and you can combine money and points to book your travel. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United, you have the option of paying with either points or dollars? Be careful, if you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars for the same flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re just a few points short, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. However, JetBlue has a unique feature where you can combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. But don’t fret 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 to pay for your rent with credit card, go for it! Make sure you pay a cost, which is usually about 3%. It might be worth it over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to pay for a 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 reimburse you.
Pay off the loan
If you have any loans, consider repaying them using your credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they understand why you’re doing it.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and be ready for giving gifts. Make sure that you’re not paying more than you planning to.
There are a lot of ways to get the most from the travel credit card. You can accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional suggestions for maximising your rewards
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use your travel credit card to book your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the required amount for your credit card bonus and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for those expenses.
Utilize your credit card to pay for all your daily costs
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement to earn rewards is by making use of your credit card to pay for every day costs. This can include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, like eating out or travelling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and take advantage of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in 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 let you pay off your debts without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
When you’ve earned a significant amount of miles or points, be sure to use them in a responsible manner. Check out the rewards program on your credit card, and evaluate the worth of various redemption options. For example using your points to purchase a flight directly with the airline could provide you with a greater value than using them to purchase the purchase of a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will allow you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility in making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or Hotel rewards programme. This can give the benefit of a larger variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that aren’t offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, find out if your credit card offers certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
When you travel with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t divide the cost with the same card, and be sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and make sure you’re using this program in the most efficient method possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad assortment of travel-related perks.