Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a bit of creativity and some insider know-how, you’ll be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
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 pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards permit you to use miles towards hotel stays or rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and to establish frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the cost is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to check the frequent flyer account and determine which airline offers you the best price. It all boils down to the amount of points or miles you have you have in your travel savings account for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening an account with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide many features and benefits. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be perfect 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 limit of spending minimum in order to get the bonus. Every card has different guidelines, so make sure to check for this information. From there you can begin to rack miles and using them to plan your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some sweet travel! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the companies I’ve had experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase card, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll have access to virtually every airline, and you can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your trip. You can even book completely 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 entire cost, you still can 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 full price for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points, you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for one flight. If you’re only a couple of points away, United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s, allowing passengers to book flights using JetBlue either dollars or points, but not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Be sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and are here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, go for it! Be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3%. It may be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the spending limit is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future then ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they can repay you.
Repay the loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about repaying them using your credit card. Be sure to pay off the balance on your credit card 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 major expenses in the near future 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 are aware of the reason for doing it.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts with the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll reach the minimum spending requirement and also be prepared for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you planning to.
There are plenty of ways to get the most from using your credit or debit card for travel. You can earn miles or points to spend on the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of you travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight, rental car, and any other travel expenses. You’ll not only achieve the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card reward, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover these expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points by making use of your credit card to pay daily costs. This could be things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance onto 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 aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points wisely
When you’ve earned a significant amount of points or miles make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For instance, using your points to purchase a flight directly with the airline might offer better value than using them to purchase the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get a rewards card that allows you to transfer reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will allow you to get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility when you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a hotel rewards program. This gives the benefit of a greater selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that aren’t offered through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine if your credit card offers 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 someone else each of you will be able to earn rewards using your credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card and make sure to keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of this program in the most effective method. Utilizing an array of strategies I’ve listed in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.