Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your ideal destinations. With a little bit of creativity and some insider knowledge, you can travel for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about trading credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for cheap or free flight tickets. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking travel is taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and establishing frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking, evaluate the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb above $500, you’ll want to review the frequent flyer account to find out which airline will give you the most value. It all comes down to the number of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is opening an account with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide many advantages and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards great for travel hacking:
- 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 limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so be sure to check for the details. From there it’s all about building miles and then using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, it’s time to use them towards nice vacation! Different credit card companies will offer different ways to redeem your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the providers I’ve worked with:
Take a trip through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you own a Chase credit card, then you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In this portal you’ll have access to virtually every airline, and you can use a combination of money and points to pay for your travel. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire price, you can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using dollars or points? But, be careful, if you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points on flights. No worries though, if you’re a few points short, United gives you the option of buying additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points, however, not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature that allows you to pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Be sure to establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars in order to meet the required amount to qualify for credit card bonuses. Don’t worry as we’ve done it and are 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 using a credit card, do it! Be prepared to pay a cost, which is usually at least 3 percent. It may be worth it over the long term when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the spending limit is to pay for a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up then ask your family members if you can pay them for theirs, and they will repay you.
Repay the loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about repaying them using the credit card you have. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card in full so you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to trust the person and they understand why you’re doing it.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all of your gifts with the credit card you have. This way you can meet the minimum spending limit and also be ready to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were already contemplating to.
There are many ways to get the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel. accrue points or miles to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever 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 to earn your credit card reward, however, you’ll also earn points or miles for those expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum spend and earn points is using your credit card to pay every day costs. This could include things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, like eating out or traveling. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
When you’ve earned a significant amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card and compare the benefits of different redemption options. For example using points to purchase a flight directly through the airline may offer better return than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will let you have a wider range of options and greater freedom when it comes to redeeming your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your rewards to frequent flyer programs of airlines or a reward program for hotels. This will give the benefit of a greater variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits which are not accessible through your credit card’s rewards program.
Also, discover if your credit card offers certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
When you travel with a companion and both of you earn rewards using 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 separately.
Overall, the key to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of it in the most effective way possible. Utilizing an array of strategies I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.