Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s a fun way to convert credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles that can then be used to score discounted or free flights to your dream destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider information, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus as well as incentives to earn airline miles. The miles can be used to purchase discount or no-cost flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles for hotel stays and 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 to establish a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight consider the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If the prices start to rise over $500, you’ll need to check those frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best deal. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles you have you have in your travel savings account for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets of travel hacking? First step opening a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that offer various advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be excellent to use for hacking 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 spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to check for this information. Then, it’s all about racking up miles and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up the points amount, it’s time to redeem them for some sweet getaway! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the providers I have experience with:
Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have an Chase card, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within this portal you’ll get access to nearly every airline and you can combine points and cash to pay for your travel. You can even book completely with points if you’ve enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full price, you 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 can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? Be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you cannot combine dollars and points on the same flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re a few points short, United provides the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue offers passengers a relaxing and pleasant travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is like United’s that allows you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points but not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Make sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca You’re probably quite thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to reach the minimum amount required to earn credit card bonuses. Don’t worry, we’ve been through 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 your rent using credit card, then do it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3%. It could be worthwhile in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to cover a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up, ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they will repay you.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you’re a borrower, consider paying them off with an credit card. Make sure to pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to see if they have any big expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to are able to trust the person and that they are aware of the reason for doing it.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts with the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to meet the minimum spending limit and be ready for gift giving. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you already contemplating to.
There are plenty of ways to make the most out of your travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can spend on the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card to book your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as other travel costs. In addition, you’ll be able to hit the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card reward, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on these expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for all your daily costs
Another method to reach the minimum spend and earn points is using your credit card to pay every day expenses. This could include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t pay interest.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, including dining or travel. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and avail any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to a travel credit card with the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfers. This will let you pay off your debts without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
When you’ve earned a significant amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize them in a responsible manner. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For instance you can use points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater return than using them for an gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility when making use of your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or reward program for hotels. This can give an access wider range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks which are not accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
Also, find out if your credit card offers some perks that could help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that can be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can get rewards on your own credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do to reaping the maximum benefits from your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re using it in the most effective way possible. Utilizing an array of strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards fast, exchange them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide range of travel perks.