Are you fed up 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 miles which can be used to get discounted or even complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and some information, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discount or no-cost flights. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles for hotel stays and car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking travel is taking advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and establishing frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight take a look at the price. If the cost is less than $300, it’s best to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to review the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the most value. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles you have in your travel bank for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? First step opening an account that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide various advantages and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are perfect to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit or debit card, you’ll need to hit the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make sure to look up this information. Then, it’s all about racking miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, it’s time to redeem them for some nice getaway! Different credit card providers will offer different ways to redeem your points. Here are a few examples from some of the providers I’ve had experience with:
Take a trip by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase card, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll have access to nearly every airline and you can combine money and points to pay for your next trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the full cost, you are able to purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option to pay with dollars or points? But, be careful that if you don’t have enough points, you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for flights. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of points away, United also offers the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines that allows you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points, however, not both. However, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that lets you pool your points together with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars in order to meet the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there and are here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay your rent with credit card, go for it! Be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3%. It might be worth it in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another way to reach 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 them for theirs, and they can reimburse you.
Repay a loan
If you have any loans, consider paying them off with an credit card. Be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they are aware of the reason for doing this.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using your credit card. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and also be ready for giving gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were already contemplating to.
There are plenty of methods to get the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and 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
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use the travel credit card to book your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the required amount to qualify for a credit card reward, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for those costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is by utilising your credit cards for daily costs. This could be items like groceries, gas, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, including dining or travel. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and avail any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance onto an account with a travel credit card that has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will let you pay off your debts 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 the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use your points to book a ticket directly through the airline may provide you with a greater value than using them to purchase an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer your reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will let you have a wider range of choices and more flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a hotel rewards program. This will give the benefit of a wider variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that may not be accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
Additionally, try to find out whether your credit card has some perks that could save you money on travel-related costs. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with a friend each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card. Also, make sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient method possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve listed that you can get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide range of travel perks.