Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking could 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 which can be used to get discounted or even complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider know-how, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in hacking travel is taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking take a look at the price. If the price is less than $300, it’s best to pay cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced 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 deal. All it boils down to is the amount of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards with many benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, your spending habits, and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards 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 limit of spending minimum in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be certain to verify this information. Then you can begin to rack up miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your points?
After you’ve accrued the points balance, you’re ready to use them towards sweet vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Take a trip by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within this portal you’ll have access to virtually every airline, and you can use a combination of money and points to pay for your trip. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have the balance for it! Sometimes even if you do not possess enough points for the total cost, you still can book flights using 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 your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you aren’t able to combine points and dollars for flights. If you’re just a few points short, United also offers the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra legroom as well as free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s that allows customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points, however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to hit the minimum spend for credit card bonuses. But don’t fret because we’ve been there and we’re 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 a credit card, do it! Make sure you pay a cost, which is usually about 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the required spending is to pay for a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future, ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they will pay you back.
Repay a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about making payments on them with the credit card you have. Make sure to pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to look into any big expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Just make sure you trust the person and they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If it’s the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts using cards from your credit account. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready to give gifts. Be sure to avoid paying more than you contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to get the most from the travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can spend on airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are some additional ways to maximize your rewards
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, make use of your travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. In addition, you’ll be able to meet the required amount to earn your credit card, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for these expenses.
Utilize your credit card to pay for all your daily expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending and earn points is by using your credit card to pay for daily expenses. This can include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange on certain kinds of purchases, like dining or travel. Be sure to review your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has 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 spend for the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points, be sure to use them wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance using your points to book a ticket directly through the airline may give you a better 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 in redeeming your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a reward program for hotels. This can give you access to a wider variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be available through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine if your credit card offers certain benefits that will reduce your travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with a friend and both of you earn rewards using your credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card, and be sure to track your rewards separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your rewards for travel is to be aware of your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most effective method possible. By using a combination of the methods I’ve described that you can earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.