Are you fed up of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting method to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles which can be used to get discounted or even free flights to your ideal destinations. With a little imagination and some knowledge, you can travel for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can then be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking take a look at the price. If the flight is under $300, it’s generally better to pay cash and save your miles to book a higher-priced flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to look into those frequent flyer accounts to find out which airline will give you the best deal. It all comes down to the amount of miles or points you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Start with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? First step opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are many great credit cards that provide many advantages and features. It depends on the type of airline, your spending habits, and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are perfect 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 limit of spending minimum in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to check for the details. Then it’s all about building up miles and then using them to book your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your points?
Now that you’ve built up the points balance, you’re ready to use them towards sweet getaway! 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:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own a Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within it, you’ll have access to almost every airline, and you can combine the points as well as cash in order to pay for your trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t possess enough points for the entire cost, you are able to book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with every credit card.
Are you fed up of paying full price for your flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying with dollars or points? Be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine points and dollars on one flight. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of point short United provides the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? You should look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience , with more legroom as well as free snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points, but not both. The difference is that JetBlue has a unique feature that allows you to combine your points with family members to accrue points twice as quickly. Just make sure you can verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried 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! Just be prepared to be charged a fee, typically about 3 percent. It might be worth it in the long run when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another excellent way to meet the minimum spend is to pay for a medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future then ask your family members if you can pay for theirs and they will pay you back.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you have any loans you owe, think about repaying them using an credit card. Make sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family for help
Ask your family members to 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 trust the person and they understand why you’re doing this.
If it’s the holiday season take into consideration buying all your gifts with your credit card. In this way, you’ll reach the minimum spending requirement and be ready to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were already planning to.
There are plenty of ways to get the most of your travel credit card and earn miles or points to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few more ways to maximize the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, use your travel credit card to book your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to meet the minimum spend to earn your credit card bonus as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles on the costs.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points by utilising your credit cards for every day costs. This could be things like food, gas or even your phone bill. Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month to ensure you don’t accumulate interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles for specific types of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Be sure to review your rewards program on your credit card and take advantage of any bonus categories that match with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you’re in the middle of a debt on a high-interest credit card, consider transferring the balance to the travel credit card which has a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will let you pay off the debt without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles make sure you use them wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the worth of various redemption options. For instance using your points to book a flight directly through the airline may give you a better return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another option is to get rewards cards that allow you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This allows you to enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility in redeeming your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to frequent flyer programs of airlines or reward program for hotels. This gives the benefit of a larger selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks which are not accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
In addition, you should find out if your credit card offers any perks that can 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.
If you’re traveling with someone else and both of you earn rewards using your credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost on the same card and make sure to keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your travel rewards is to know the rewards program on your credit card and make sure you’re using it in the most efficient way possible. By using an array of strategies I’ve listed, you’ll be able to get rewards in a short time, use rewards for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide assortment of travel-related perks.