Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into airline miles which can be used to get discounted or even complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a little bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can 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. The miles can be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also permit you to use miles for hotel stays and car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the flight is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and save your miles to book a higher-priced flight. If the prices start to rise over $500, you’ll need to review the frequent flyer account to see which airline can give you the most value. It all boils down to the amount of miles or points in your travel bank for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? The first step is opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that provide many benefits and features. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be excellent 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 need to hit the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to look up this information. Then you can begin to rack up miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some sweet vacation! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are some examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within it, you’ll have access to almost every airline, and you can combine money and points to pay for your travel. You can even book completely using points if you’ve got the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the total cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using every credit card.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points you cannot combine points and dollars on the same flight. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is like United’s, allowing customers to book using either JetBlue either dollars or points, but not both. However, JetBlue offers a distinct feature that lets you combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Make sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and are here to share some of our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay your rent with credit card, then do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually at least 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the long run in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another great way to hit the required spending is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due then ask your family members to pay for theirs and they can reimburse you.
Pay off the loan
If you have any loans, consider repaying them using your credit card. Make sure to pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Discuss your family with them and look into any big expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to trust the person and they are aware of the reason for taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all of your gifts with your credit card. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to make the most of your travel credit card and earn miles or points to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of you travel credit card to book your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend to earn your credit card bonus and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover those expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenses
Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points by making use of your credit card for daily costs. This could include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you’re in the middle of a outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance onto an account with a travel credit card that has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also assist you in reaching 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 the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use your points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may offer better return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will let you have a wider range of options and greater flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or reward program for hotels. This gives an access larger variety of hotels, flights, and other travel perks that aren’t offered through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to discover if your credit card offers any perks that can reduce your travel expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that are very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with a friend 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. Also, make sure to keep track of your rewards separately.
Overall, the key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re using this program in the most efficient way possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve listed that you can get rewards in a short time, use them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.