Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting method to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles that can then be used to score discounted or free flights to your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free 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 pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for successful travel hacking is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and establishing frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking consider the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s generally better to pay 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 find out which airline will give you the most value. It all boils down to the number of points or miles in your travel account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets of travel hacking? First step opening a credit card with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer various advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your spending habits, and what features are crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are perfect to hack 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 reach the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to check for this information. Then, it’s all about racking up miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your goals?
After you’ve accrued the points amount, it’s time to redeem them for some delicious vacation! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the providers I’ve had experience with:
Take a trip through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you’re a holder of an Chase credit card, then you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within the portal, you’ll have access to nearly every airline. You can combine points and cash to pay for your next trip. You can even book entirely using points if you’ve got the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for entire cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you know that when you book directly through United You have the option to pay with either points or dollars? Butbe aware 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 short, United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to United’s which allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars however, not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Make sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. But don’t fret because we’ve been there 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, go for it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3 percent. It could be worthwhile 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 pay for a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future, ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they will reimburse you.
Pay off the loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about repaying them using an credit card. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they know why you’re doing it.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using cards from your credit account. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be prepared for giving gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were already contemplating to.
There are plenty of methods to get the most from using your credit or debit card for travel and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ways to maximize your rewards
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, make use of the travel credit card to book your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. You’ll not only achieve the required amount to qualify for a credit card reward and earn points, but you’ll also earn points or miles on those expenditures.
Use your credit card for everyday expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum spend in order to accumulate points by making use of your credit card for daily expenditures. This could be items like groceries, gas and even your telephone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for specific types of purchases, like eating out or travelling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and avail any bonus categories that align with your spending routines.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will let you pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spend for the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points carefully
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles, be sure to use them in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For instance, using points to book a ticket directly with the airline might give you a better return than using them for an gift card.
Another suggestion is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility when you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or Hotel rewards programme. This gives an access greater variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should find out if your credit card offers certain benefits that will reduce your travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
When you travel with a friend each of you will be able to earn rewards using your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card and make sure to keep track of your rewards separately.
Overall, the key to making the most of your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re using this program in the most effective way possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve listed that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide assortment of travel-related perks.