Are you tired of paying thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles, which you can use to score discounted or complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider information, you’ll fly for no cost in no time.
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 buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental deals.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in travel hacking is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking consider the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to check the frequent flyer account to see which airline can give you the best deal. It all boils down to the amount of miles or points in your travel bank for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is to open an account that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide various advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some 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 spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so make sure to check for this information. Then you can begin to rack miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some sweet vacation! Different credit card companies will offer different ways to redeem your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of a Chase card, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll get access to virtually every airline and you can use a combination of points and cash to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option to pay with either points or dollars? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you cannot combine dollars and points for the same flight. If you’re only a couple of point short United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars but not both. But, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that allows you to pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually around 3%. It could be worthwhile over the long term when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the required spending is to pay for the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future then ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they will repay you.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you’re a borrower, consider paying them off with the credit card you have. Make sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Just make sure you are able to trust the person and that they are aware of the reason for doing this.
If it’s the holiday season you should consider purchasing all of your gifts with cards from your credit account. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you planning to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most from using your credit or debit card for travel. You can earn miles or points to use towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, make use of you travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel expenses. Not only will you be able to meet the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card bonus, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on the expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is using your credit card for daily costs. This can include things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange on certain kinds of purchases, such as dining or travel. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will let you pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points wisely
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles make sure you use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the value 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 a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to get a wider selection of options and greater flexibility in making use of your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a reward program for hotels. This will give you access to a greater selection of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that aren’t available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Additionally, try to determine if your credit card offers certain benefits that will reduce your travel costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that could be very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with someone else and both of you earn rewards using your own credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure to keep track of your rewards separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of it in the most efficient method possible. By using 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 range of travel perks.