Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Well, good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles which can be used to score discounted or complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a little 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 all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful travel hacking is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight take a look at the price. If the cost is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise over $500, you’ll need to check your frequent flyer accounts and find out which airline will give you the best deal. It all boils down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel account for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets of travel hacking? The first step is opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that offer a variety of advantages and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit card, you’ll have to meet the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to receive the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so be sure to check for this information. From there it’s all about building up miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated the points amount, it’s time to use them towards nice getaway! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Take a trip by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you have a Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within the portal, you’ll have access to nearly every airline and you can use a combination of points and cash to book your travel. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the full cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points for one flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re a few points short, United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s which allows customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points, however, not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature where you can combine your points with your relatives to earn points twice as fast. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re 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. But don’t fret as we’ve done it 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 using a credit card, do it! Be prepared to be charged a fee, typically about 3 percent. It may be worth it over the long term when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to cover the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills due, ask your relatives if you could pay their medical bills and they can repay you.
Pay off a loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about repaying them using the credit card you have. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to look into any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Just make sure you trust the person and they know why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all of your gifts with the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and also be prepared to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were already thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to get the most from using your credit or debit card for travel and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of you travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel expenses. In addition, you’ll achieve the minimum amount of spending required to qualify for a credit card bonus, but you’ll also earn points or miles on these costs.
Use your credit card for everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum spend to earn rewards is making use of your credit card to pay everyday costs. This can include things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or points in exchange for certain types of purchases, including eating out or travelling. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Think about a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance onto an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will let you pay off your debt without accruing interest and simultaneously aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points, be sure to use them wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance using points to purchase a flight directly with the airline could provide you with a greater value than using them for an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility in making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or reward program for hotels. This will give the benefit of a wider variety of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks which are not accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should find out if your credit card offers some perks that could help you save money on travel costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that can be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else each of you will be able to earn rewards with your credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure you keep track of your rewards separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program on your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of this program in the most effective way possible. Utilizing all of the strategies I’ve listed in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.