Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles which can be used to get discounted or even free flights to your desired destinations. With a bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can 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 incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles for hotel stays and rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The most effective method for success in travel hacking is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight take a look at the price. If the cost is less than $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. When the flights start getting above $500, you’ll want to check your frequent flyer accounts to find out which airline will give you the best deal. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles in your travel account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you ready to discover the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is opening an account with a sign-up bonus. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards with many benefits and features. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit card options that can be 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 spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to get the bonus. Every card has different guidelines, so make sure to check for the details. From there you can begin to rack miles and then using them to book your dream vacation!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some nice travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Getaway through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you have an Chase cards, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within it, you’ll get access to almost every airline and you can combine money and points to pay for your trip. You can even book completely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full cost, you still 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 flights? Did you know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying with either points or dollars? Be careful that if you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points on flights. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of point short 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 flight experience , with more space and complimentary snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines which allows you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points but not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature where you can combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Make 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 and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty frugal and it can be difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars in order to meet the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus. Don’t worry because we’ve been there and are here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay for your rent with credit card, then do it! Just be prepared to be charged a fee, typically about 3%. It might be worth it in the end if the bonus is high enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another excellent way to meet the spending limit is to cover the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future, ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they can repay you.
Repay the loan
If you’re a borrower, consider repaying them using your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accrue more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Talk to your family and look into any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they are aware of the reason for doing it.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all your gifts with your credit card. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and also be prepared to give gifts. Be sure to avoid spending more than you were already thinking of.
There are a lot of ways to get the most from the travel credit card. You can earn miles or points to be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few additional suggestions for maximising your rewards
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use you travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. Not only will you achieve the minimum spend to qualify for a credit card as well, but you’ll also be earning points or miles on these expenditures.
Use your credit card for everyday expenses
Another way to meet the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points utilising your credit cards to pay everyday expenses. This could include things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Benefit from 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 the bonus categories that are in line with your spending habits.
Consider a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to an account with a travel credit card that has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will let you pay off the 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 prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points make sure you use them wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the value of different redemption options. For example, using points to book a flight directly with the airline could give you a better return than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility in making use of your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or reward program for hotels. This can give you access to a larger selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits which are not accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to find out whether your credit card has certain benefits that will help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with a friend each of you will be able to earn rewards with your credit card. Be aware that you cannot share the costs on the same card, and be sure to track your rewards separately.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your travel rewards is to know the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re using this program in the most effective way possible. Utilizing all of the strategies I’ve outlined that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.