Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles, which you can use to get discounted or even free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little imagination and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can fly for no cost within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking travel is taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When it’s time to book a flight take a look at the price. If the price is under $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. If the prices start to rise higher than $500, it’s best to look into those frequent flyer accounts and see which airline can give you the best price. It all boils down to the number of points or miles in your travel bank for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets of travel hacking? Your first task is to open an account with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide a variety of features and benefits. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are perfect to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll need to hit the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so make sure to look up this information. Then you can begin to rack up miles, and then using them to book your dream trip!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated the points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some sweet getaway! Different credit card companies have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from a few of the ones I have experience with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase credit card, then you are able to use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll have access to almost every airline and you can make use of a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your travel. You can book your flight entirely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the total price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United, you have the option of paying using either points or dollars? Be careful, if you do not have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars on one flight. No worries though, if you’re a few points away, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Look no further than 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 that allows you to book with either JetBlue points or dollars however, not both. However, JetBlue offers a distinct feature where you can combine your points 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 the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re anything like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to reach the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried because we’ve been there 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 using credit card, then do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually about 3%. It could be worthwhile in the long run in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the minimum spend is to pay for a medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due Ask your family members if you can pay their medical bills and they can pay you back.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about paying them off with your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the balance on your credit card in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any large expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Make sure that you are able to have confidence in the person you are talking to and they understand why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll hit that minimum spend and also be ready to give gifts. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you thinking of.
There are plenty of ways to get the most from the travel credit card and accrue points or miles to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are some additional ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Make travel reservations using 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. In addition, you’ll be able to hit the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card reward, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on the expenses.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending in order to accumulate points by making use of your credit card to pay every day expenses. This could be items like groceries, gas, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
Some travel credit cards will offer miles or points in exchange for specific types of purchases, including eating out or traveling. Check out your rewards program on your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration 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 allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles make sure you use the points or miles wisely. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For example, using points to book a ticket directly through the airline may offer better return than using them for a gift card.
Another suggestion is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. This will allow you to have a wider range of options and greater flexibility in making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or reward program for hotels. This gives an access greater range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits which are not available through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should determine if your credit card offers certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related costs. Some cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else each of you will be able to earn rewards using your own credit card. Make sure you don’t share the costs on the same card and make sure to track your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and to ensure you’re making use of your credit card in the most effective method possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve listed that you can earn rewards quickly, redeem rewards for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.