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Are you tired of paying an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting method to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles which you can use to score discounted or complimentary flights for your dream destinations. With a bit of creativity and some insider know-how, you’ll travel for free in no time.

The Basics of Travel Hacking

Travel hacking is all about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and incentives for airline miles. These miles can then be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car deals.

How Does it Work?

The secret to successful hacking your travel plans is to take 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, evaluate the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to check the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the best price. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.

Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking

Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? The first step is to open an account that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide a variety of benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, spending habits and what features are crucial to you.

Top Credit Card Picks

Here are a few credit card options that can be excellent to use for hacking 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 spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make certain to verify this information. From there it’s all about building miles and then using them to book your dream vacation!

Ready to jet-set with your ideas?

Now that you’ve built up the points amount, it’s time to cash them in for some sweet getaway! Different credit card companies will offer different ways to redeem your points. Here are a few examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:

Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you have a Chase cards, you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll get access to virtually every airline, and you can combine money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book entirely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every 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 with dollars or points? Be careful in case you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine dollars and points on flights. No worries though, if you’re a few point short United gives you the possibility of purchasing additional miles.

JetBlue

Looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s, allowing customers to book using either JetBlue dollar or points, however, not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you combine your points with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.

Reach that Minimum Spend

If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. Don’t worry because we’ve been there and we’re here to share our tricks and tips.

Pay your rent (if you can)

This is a huge one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually around 3 percent. It may be worth it over the long term if the bonus is high enough.

Pay a medical bill

Another way to reach the spending limit is to cover the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future Ask your relatives if you could pay them for theirs, and they can repay you.

Make a payment to pay off the loan

If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider paying them off with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.

Ask your family members for help

Talk to your family and look into any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they are aware of the reason for doing it.

Give gifts

If it’s the holiday season, consider buying all of your gifts with the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you contemplating to.

There are many ways to make the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and accumulate miles or points that you can use towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:

Make travel reservations using your credit card

Whenever you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum spend for your credit card reward as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles for those expenditures.

Utilize your credit card to pay for all your daily costs

Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending and earn points is using your credit card to pay for every day expenditures. This could include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t pay interest.

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Take advantage of bonus categories

A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, like eating out or travelling. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.

Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance

If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance to a travel credit card with the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.

Use your points or miles wisely

If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points make sure you use them in a responsible manner. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and compare the value of different redemption options. For example, using your points to purchase a flight directly with the airline might provide you with a greater value than using them for the purchase of a gift card.

Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will allow you to have a wider range of options and greater flexibility when redeeming 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 will give you access to a greater range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits which are not offered through the rewards program on your credit card.

Additionally, try to discover if your credit card offers certain benefits that will reduce your travel costs. Some cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.

Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend and both of you earn rewards with your own credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.

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 using your credit card in the most effective method possible. Through an array of methods I’ve described in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and take advantage of a broad range of travel perks.