Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles which can be used to get discounted or even complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a little bit of creativity and some insider know-how, you’ll travel for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful travel hacking is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and to establish frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the price is under $300, it’s best to pay in cash and save your miles to book a higher-priced flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to look into the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the best price. It all comes down to the number of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Get 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 provide many features and benefits. It is all dependent on the airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be perfect 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. Each card has its own rules, so make certain to verify the details. From there you can begin to rack miles and using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points amount, it’s time to use them towards nice vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have a Chase card, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll have access to almost every airline and you can make use of a combination of points and cash to pay for your next trip. You can even book entirely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the entire price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using any credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying with dollars or points? Be careful in case you don’t have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points for flights. No worries though, if you’re just a few point short United also offers the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s that allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue dollar or points however, not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature where you can pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. Don’t worry because we’ve been there and we’re here to share some of our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually at least 3 percent. It might be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another way to reach the spending limit is to cover the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up then ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they will repay you.
Pay off the loan
If you have any loans, consider making payments on them with the credit card you have. Make sure to pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accrue more debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and determine if they’ve got any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to trust the person and they know why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts using your credit card. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were already planning to.
There are plenty of methods to get the most from your travel credit card and accrue points or miles to use towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ways to maximize your rewards
Make travel reservations using your credit card
If you’re planning a vacation, make use of the travel credit card to book your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as any other travel expenses. Not only will you be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required for your credit card and earn points, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover those expenses.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending and earn points is utilising your credit cards to pay daily expenditures. This could be items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Make sure you review your rewards program on your credit card and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance to the travel credit card which has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will let you pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For example, using points to purchase a flight directly with the airline might give you a better return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get a rewards card that allows you to transfer your rewards to different loyalty program. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be capable of transferring your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or hotel rewards program. This gives the benefit of a wider selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be available through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, find out whether your credit card has some perks that could reduce your travel expenses. Some cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure you keep track of your rewards separately.
The key to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most efficient way possible. Through all of the methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.