Are you tired of paying thousands of dollars on travel? Well, good news! Travel hacking could 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 which can be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a little imagination and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or rental car deals.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and building out a frequent flyer mile program for a specific group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the flight is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to book a higher-priced flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to check your frequent flyer accounts to see which airline can give you the best deal. All it boils down to is the number of miles or points in your travel account for every airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? Your first task is opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards with various benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are excellent to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll need to reach the minimum spend limit in order to qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own guidelines, so make sure to check for the details. From there it’s all about building up miles, and using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
After you’ve accrued your points amount, it’s time to use them towards nice travel! Different credit card companies will offer different ways to redeem your rewards, here are some examples from some of the ones I have experience with:
Getaway with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase card, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In it, you’ll get access to nearly every airline and you can combine the points as well as cash in order to book your travel. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have the funds to pay for it! 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 in cash using every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United You have the option of paying using dollars or points? Be careful in case you do not have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars for flights. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of points short, United gives you the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing passengers to book flights using JetBlue either dollars or points however, not both. However, JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that allows you to pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty economical and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for credit card bonuses. However, don’t be worried as we’ve done it and are here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a big one! If you’re able pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Make sure you be charged a fee, typically around 3 percent. It may be worth it in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another great way to hit the required spending is to cover an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due, ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they’ll repay you.
Repay the loan
If you’re a borrower, consider repaying them using the credit card you have. Make sure to pay off the balance on your credit card in full , so that you don’t accrue additional 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 have confidence in the person you are talking to and they are aware of the reason for doing it.
If you’re celebrating the holidays you should consider purchasing all your gifts using the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for gift giving. Be sure to avoid spending more than you planning to.
There are plenty of ways to make the most out of using your credit or debit card for travel and accumulate miles or points that you can spend on airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the required amount to qualify for a credit card reward as well, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on these costs.
Utilize your credit card to pay for all your daily expenditures
Another way to meet the minimum spend and earn points is by making use of your credit card for daily expenses. This could be things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer bonus points or miles for certain types of purchases, like eating out or traveling. Be sure to review your credit card’s rewards program and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Think about the possibility of transferring your balance
If you have existing debt on a credit card, think about transferring that balance onto the travel credit card which has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest. It will also assist you in reaching the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points wisely
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 compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance using your points to book a flight directly with the airline could provide you with a greater value than using them to purchase the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will allow you to have a wider range of choices and more flexibility when you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to the frequent flyer program of an airline or a hotel rewards program. This gives you access to a greater selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that may not be available through the rewards program of your credit card.
Also, discover whether your credit card has some perks that could help you save money on travel costs. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that could be very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a friend, both of you can earn rewards with your own credit card. Just remember that you can’t share the costs on the same card, and be sure to keep track of the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to maximizing your travel rewards is to know the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re making use of it in the most effective way possible. Through a combination of the methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.