Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles which can be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your ideal destinations. With a little creativity and some insider information, 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 rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to review those frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best deal. It all comes down to the number of miles or points in your travel bank for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? First step to open the credit card that comes with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards with many advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit card options that can be great for travel hacking:
- 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 reach the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so make sure to look up the details. Then, it’s all about racking up miles, and using them to plan your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some delicious getaway! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Take a trip through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you own a Chase card, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within the portal, you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can make use of a combination of points and cash to book your trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for total price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying with either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points for one flight. If you’re just a few point short United gives you the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience , with more space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s which allows you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Be sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. But don’t fret as we’ve done it and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able pay your rent using credit card, then do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually at least 3%. It might 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 do not have any medical expenses due, ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they’ll pay you back.
Repay the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about repaying them using your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t accrue more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any big expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they understand 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. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were contemplating to.
There are many ways to make the most from using your credit or debit card for travel. You can accrue points or miles to use towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a vacation, make use of your travel credit card for booking 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 qualify for a credit card and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for those expenses.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement to earn rewards is by making use of your credit card to pay for every day costs. This could be items like groceries, gas and even your telephone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, including eating out or travelling. Check out your credit card’s rewards program and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles make sure you use them wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the value of different redemption options. For example you can use your points to book a ticket directly with the airline could 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 points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater freedom when it comes to making use of your rewards. For example, you may be capable of transferring your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or hotel rewards program. This can give the benefit of a wider selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that aren’t accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, determine the card’s benefits. any perks that can help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that can be invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can earn rewards with your credit card. Just remember that you can’t split the cost on the same card, and be sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
The key to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re using this program in the most effective way possible. Through a combination of the methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to get rewards in a short time, use them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.