Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel problems. 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 complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a little creativity and some insider know-how, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and establishing a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight take a look at the price. If the cost is under $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb above $500, you’ll want to look into those frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best deal. It all boils down to the amount of miles or points in your travel account for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is to open an account with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer a variety of features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit or debit card, you’ll need to hit the limit of spending minimum in order to qualify for the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to check for this information. Then you can begin to rack miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, it’s time to redeem them for some nice getaway! Different credit card companies will offer different ways to redeem your points, but here are a few examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase card, you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within the portal, you’ll have access to nearly every airline, and you can combine points and cash to pay for your trip. You can even book completely on points if you have the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the total cost, you still can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option to pay with dollars or points? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points you cannot combine points and dollars on flights. No worries though, if you’re a few point short United gives you the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience , with more space and complimentary snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is like United’s that allows customers to book using either JetBlue dollar or points but not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for a credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there and are here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually at least 3 percent. It might be worth it in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach the required spending is to pay for an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future then ask your family members to pay their medical bills and they can pay you back.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider repaying them using your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to look into any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they know why you’re doing this.
If you’re celebrating the holidays you should consider purchasing all of your gifts with the credit card you have. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared to give gifts. Make sure that you’re not paying more than you already contemplating to.
There are plenty of ways to get the most from your travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can spend on flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few additional ways to maximize your rewards:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use your travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. Not only will you achieve the required amount to earn your credit card bonus, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover the expenses.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily costs
Another method to reach the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points making use of your credit card to pay for everyday expenses. This could be 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 accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, like eating out or traveling. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance onto an account with a travel credit card that has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use your 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 rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or reward program for hotels. This can give the benefit of a larger selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that aren’t accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to discover if your credit card offers any perks that can save you money on travel-related costs. Many cards offer 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 friend, both of you can get rewards on your credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost on the same card, and be sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to making the most of your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient method. Through a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide range of travel perks.