Are you tired of spending an enormous amount on flights? Well, good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little creativity and some insider know-how, you’ll fly for no cost in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to buy discount or no-cost flights. Certain credit cards let you 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 sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking take a look at the price. If the price is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb above $500, you’ll want to check the frequent flyer account and see which airline can give you the best deal. It all boils down to the number of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is opening an account with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards that offer many features and benefits. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are great to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
After you’ve been accepted for a credit card, you’ll need to hit the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so make sure to check for the details. Then, it’s all about racking up miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some nice vacation! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are a few examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In it, you’ll get access to virtually every airline, and you can make use of a combination of money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the full cost, you are able to buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying full price for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying using dollars or points? Butbe aware that if you do not have enough points you cannot combine dollars and points on flights. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of points away, United gives you the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides an enjoyable and comfortable travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s that allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, however, not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Make sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through 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 pay your rent with credit card, go for it! Make sure you pay a cost, which is usually at least 3 percent. It may be worth it in the long run when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the required spending is to cover the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills due then ask your family members to pay for theirs and they’ll repay you.
Repay the loan
If you have any loans, consider making payments on them with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Talk to your family and look into any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they are aware of the reason for taking the initiative.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all of your gifts with cards from your credit account. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be ready to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to get the most of using your credit or debit card for travel. You can earn miles or points to be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more ways to maximize your rewards:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, use you travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required to qualify for a credit card reward and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover those expenditures.
Use your credit card for all your daily expenses
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points by using your credit card for everyday costs. This could include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for certain types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance to the travel credit card which has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off your debts without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card bonus.
Make use of your miles or points carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize them wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and compare the benefits of different redemption options. For example, using your points to book a flight directly with the airline might provide you with a greater return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will allow you to get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or hotel rewards program. This will give you access to a greater range of flights, hotels, and other travel perks which are not accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
In addition, you should determine whether your credit card has certain benefits that will help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can earn rewards with your own credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card, and be sure you keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand your credit card’s rewards program and ensure that you’re using your credit card in the most effective way possible. By using a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.