Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? 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 airline miles which can be used to get discounted or even complimentary flights for your dream destinations. With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of insider know-how, you’ll fly for no cost in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking travel is taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If the prices start to rise over $500, you’ll need to review those frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best price. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel bank for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is to open a credit card with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer a variety of benefits and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are great 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 have to meet the minimum spend limit in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to check for the details. Then it’s all about building up miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points amount, it’s time to cash them in for some sweet getaway! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the providers I’ve worked with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll get access to nearly every airline and you can combine points and cash to book your trip. You can even book entirely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not possess enough points for the full price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option to pay with dollars or points? But, be careful that if you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine points and dollars for flights. No worries though, if you’re just a few points short, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points, but not both. However, JetBlue offers a distinct feature where you can join your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Make sure to 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 like me or my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. Don’t worry, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent using credit card, then do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually at least 3 percent. It may be worth it over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to pay for a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up, ask your family members to pay for theirs and they can reimburse you.
Repay the loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about making payments on them with your credit card. Be sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Ask your family members to see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they are aware of the reason for taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using cards from your credit account. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to get the most of using your credit or debit card for travel and accrue points or miles to be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few additional ways to maximize your rewards
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. In addition, you’ll achieve the minimum spend for your credit card bonus, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on these expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum spending requirement and earn points is utilising your credit cards to pay daily costs. This can include items like groceries, gas and even your telephone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Benefit from bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and avail any bonus categories that align with your spending routines.
Think about a balance transfer
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance onto a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off your debts without accruing interest. It will also assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn 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 in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the worth of various redemption options. For example you can use your points to book a ticket directly with the airline might provide you with a greater value than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you have a wider range of options and greater flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a reward program for hotels. This can give the benefit of a larger variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks which are not available through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine if your credit card offers any perks that can save you money on travel-related costs. Some cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
When you travel with a companion and both of you earn rewards with your credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure to track your rewards separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to know the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re using this program in the most effective way possible. Through all of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.