Are you tired of paying thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles that can then be used to obtain discounted or free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or car rental offers.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out frequent flyer miles with a limited number of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight take a look at the price. If the price is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to check your frequent flyer accounts and find out which airline will give you the best deal. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles in your travel bank for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening the credit card that comes with a sign-up bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards with various benefits and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your spending habits, and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll have to meet the minimum spend limit in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to look up this information. From there it’s all about building miles and using them to plan your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your points?
Now that you’ve built up the points amount, it’s time 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’ve had experience with:
Take a trip through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you’re a holder of a Chase card, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within the portal, you’ll have access to almost every airline. You can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your next trip. You can even book completely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total cost, you are able to purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using any credit card.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option of paying using either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you don’t have enough points you aren’t able to combine points and dollars on the same flight. No worries though, if you’re a few points away, United gives you the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature where you can combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Make sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack into the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca You’re probably quite thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum spend for credit card bonuses. But don’t fret, we’ve been through it and we’re here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able pay your rent with credit card, then do it! Be prepared to pay a fee, usually at least 3 percent. It might be worth it in the end in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another way to reach the spending limit is to pay for a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due, ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they can repay you.
Repay a loan
If you have any loans you owe, think about paying them off with the credit card you have. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Talk to your family and see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Make sure that you are 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 your gifts with the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and also be prepared for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you contemplating to.
There are a lot of methods to get the most from your travel credit card. You can accrue points or miles to spend on airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, use the travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. In addition, you’ll achieve the minimum spend for your credit card bonus and earn points, but you’ll also be earning points or miles for those costs.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum spend in order to accumulate points using your credit card for everyday expenses. This could be items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, including eating out or travelling. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a credit card, consider transferring that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest and simultaneously help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points wisely
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points make sure you use them in a responsible manner. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and compare the value of different redemption options. For example, using points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may offer better return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will allow you to have a wider range of options and greater flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a Hotel rewards programme. This can give the benefit of a larger range of flights, hotels, and other travel perks that may not be offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to find out whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel expenses. 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.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend each of you will be able to earn rewards with your credit card. Just remember that you can’t share the costs on the same card, and be sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do 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. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad assortment of travel-related perks.