Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles which can be used to score discounted or complimentary flights for your dream destinations. With a little 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 about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and to establish frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s best to pay cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to review your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best deal. All it boils down to is the amount of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets of travel hacking? First step opening a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards with many advantages and features. 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 a few credit card options that can be excellent to hack 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 reach the minimum spend limit in order to receive the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to check for this information. From there you can begin to rack miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your goals?
Now that you’ve built up the points amount, it’s time to use them towards delicious vacation! Different credit card providers will offer different ways to redeem your points, but here are some examples from a few of the providers I have experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll have access to nearly every airline, and you can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely 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 cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option of paying using dollars or points? Be careful, if you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on the same flight. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of point short United also offers the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience , with more legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to that of United Airlines which allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue either dollars or points but not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Make 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 or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum spend for 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 an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually about 3 percent. It may be worth it in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the minimum spend is to pay for the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses due then ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they’ll pay you back.
Pay off the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan, consider repaying them using an credit card. Just make sure you pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Ask your family members to look into any large expenses coming up that you can contribute 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 you should consider purchasing all your gifts using the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and be ready to give gifts. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you were contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most of using your credit or debit card for travel. accumulate miles or points that you can spend on flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use your travel credit card to book your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend to earn your credit card, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover these expenses.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenses
Another method to reach the minimum spend and earn points is making use of your credit card to pay for daily expenditures. This can include things like gas, groceries, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer bonus points or miles for specific types of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending routines.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance to a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s 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 in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance using points to book a flight directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a hotel rewards program. This gives an access greater range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits which are not offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should find out whether your credit card has some perks that could save you money on travel-related expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card, and be sure to keep track of your rewards separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of it in the most effective method possible. Utilizing all of the strategies I’ve listed that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.