Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles which can be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider information, 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 as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can then be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles for hotel stays and car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to check the frequent flyer account to determine which airline offers you the best deal. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets of travel hacking? First step to open a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide various features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, your spending habits, and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be great 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 limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of guidelines, so make sure to look up this information. Then you can begin to rack up miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your goals?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, you’re ready to use them towards nice travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your points, but here are some examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have an Chase cards, you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll get access to nearly every airline. You can combine points and cash to pay for your trip. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! 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.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option to pay with either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on one flight. No worries though, if you’re a few points short, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing customers to book using either JetBlue dollar or points but not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature where you can pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Be sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there 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 with a credit card, do it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually about 3 percent. It could be worthwhile 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 cover the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up, ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they will repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you have any loans take into consideration making payments on them with an credit card. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family for help
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they know why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to make the most of your travel credit card. You can accumulate miles or points that you can spend on flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, make use of you travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only achieve the required amount for your credit card reward as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover those costs.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily costs
Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending and earn points is by making use of your credit card to pay for daily expenditures. This can include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Benefit from bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, like dining or travel. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Think about a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring the balance to a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will let you pay off the debt without accruing interest and simultaneously assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of miles or points make sure you use them wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the worth of various redemption options. For instance you can use points to book a flight directly with the airline could 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 have a wider range of choices and more flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be able 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 as well as other travel perks which are not accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, discover whether your credit card has certain benefits that will help you save money on travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion, both of you can earn rewards with your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of it in the most efficient method possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.