Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, which you can use to score discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a bit of creativity and some insider knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about swapping credit card sign-up bonus and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also allow you to redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for successful hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking take a look at the price. If the cost is under $300, it’s best to pay cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to look into the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the best price. It all comes down to the number of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is to open a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards with many 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 some credit card options that can be excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit card, you’ll have to meet the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own guidelines, so make certain to verify this information. From there, it’s all about racking miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some nice vacation! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you own an Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In this portal you’ll get access to virtually every airline, and you can use a combination of points and cash to book your travel. You can even book entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with every credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you know that when you book directly through United, you have the option to pay with dollars or points? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points, you aren’t able to combine dollars and points on one flight. No worries though, if you’re a few point short United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines that allows customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you join 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.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be 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 are here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually around 3 percent. It might be worth it over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to pay for the medical bills. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future then ask your family members to pay their medical bills and they will reimburse you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan take into consideration paying them off with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Talk to your family and determine if they’ve got any large expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they are aware of the reason for taking the initiative.
If you’re celebrating the holidays you should consider purchasing all of your gifts with 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 already thinking of.
There are many ways to get the most out of the travel credit card. You can accumulate miles or points that you can spend on airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ways to maximize your rewards
Make travel reservations using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of the travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card bonus, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on these costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum spend in order to accumulate points by making use of your credit card to pay everyday expenses. This could be things like food, gas, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Benefit from bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or points in exchange on certain kinds of purchases, including dining or travel. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance onto an account with a travel credit card that has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also assist you in reaching the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles, be sure to use them wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and compare the value of different redemption options. For instance using points to book a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater value than using them to purchase a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will let you have a wider range of options and greater flexibility when redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a hotel rewards program. This can give an access larger selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks which are not offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
Also, determine if your credit card offers any perks that can save you money on travel-related expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with a companion, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card and make sure to track your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to making the most of your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of this program in the most effective method possible. Through a combination of the strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to get rewards in a short time, use rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide range of travel perks.