Are you tired of paying a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles that can then be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your dream destinations. With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of insider information, you’ll travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about swapping credit card sign-up bonus as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and building out a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to make a booking take a look at the price. If the price is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb higher than $500, it’s best to review the frequent flyer account and determine which airline offers you the most value. It all comes down to the number of points or miles in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is to open an account with a sign-up offer. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that offer various benefits 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
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll have to meet the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make sure to look up this information. Then it’s all about building up miles and using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some nice vacation! Different credit card companies offer different ways to redeem your points, but here are some examples from a few of the companies I have experience with:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through this portal you’ll get access to almost every airline. You can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your next trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the balance for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the total cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying using either points or dollars? Be careful in case you do not have enough points you cannot combine dollars and points for the same flight. If you’re just a few points short, United gives you the option of buying 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 legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s, allowing customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars but not both. But, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. 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 a huge one! If you’re able to pay for your rent with a credit card, do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually around 3 percent. It may be worth it over the long term if the bonus is high enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another excellent way to meet the required spending is to cover a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up then ask your family members to pay for theirs and they’ll pay you back.
Pay off the loan
If you have any loans, consider paying them off with your credit card. Be sure to pay the credit card balance in full , 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. Make sure that you are able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re celebrating the holidays 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 ready for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you thinking of.
There are many ways to make the most from using your credit or debit card for travel and accrue points or miles to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more suggestions for maximising the rewards you earn:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, make use of your travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel expenses. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum spend for your credit card, but you’ll also be earning points or miles to cover the expenses.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenditures
Another method to reach the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is using your credit card for everyday expenses. This could include things like food, gas, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance to a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfer. This will enable you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles, be sure to use them wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For instance you can use points to book a flight directly with the airline could provide you with a greater return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater freedom when it comes to you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or reward program for hotels. This will give you access to a greater 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 save you money on travel-related costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with a companion, both of you can get rewards on your own credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card, and be sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
The key to maximizing your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most efficient method. By using a combination of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to get rewards in a short time, use them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide range of travel perks.