Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles that can then be used to obtain discounted or cheap flights from your desired destinations. With a little creativity and some insider knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles for hotel stays and car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking consider the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to check the frequent flyer account to see which airline can give you the best price. All it boils down to is the amount of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to hacking travel? The first step is opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards with a variety of benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are excellent 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 need to hit the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so make sure to look up the details. From there it’s all about building miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some delicious travel! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase cards, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In it, you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can combine money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for entire price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? Be careful that if you do not have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points for one flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re just a few points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s which allows you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars but not both. But, JetBlue offers a distinct feature where you can combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. But don’t fret as we’ve done it and we’re here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using a credit card, do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually around 3 percent. It may be worth it in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future then ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they’ll reimburse you.
Repay the loan
If you have any loans you owe, think about making payments on them with your credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accumulate additional debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any large expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to trust the person and they know why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all of your gifts with cards from your credit account. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you already planning to.
There are many methods to get the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and earn miles or points to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of the travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight, rental car, and any other travel expenses. Not only will you achieve the minimum spend to earn your credit card bonus, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover these expenses.
Make use of your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum spending requirement and earn points is utilising your credit cards for everyday costs. This can include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t accumulate interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, including eating out or travelling. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will let you pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum spending requirement for the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points make sure you use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance using points to book a ticket directly with the airline might offer better value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will let you get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be capable of transferring your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or Hotel rewards programme. This will give you access to a larger range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits that may not be available through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine whether your credit card has some perks that could help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that could be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
If you’re traveling with a friend and both of you earn rewards using your credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card. Also, make sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and ensure that you’re making use of it in the most effective method possible. By using an array of methods I’ve described that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.