Washington Post Travel Hacking

Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on travel? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into miles which you can use to get discounted or even cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a little creativity and some insider knowledge, you can travel for free within a matter of minutes.

The Basics of Travel Hacking

Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards for airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards permit you to use miles for hotel stays and car rental offers.

How Does it Work?

The most effective method for success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking take a look at the price. If the flight is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay cash and save your miles to take a more costly flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to look into the frequent flyer account and see which airline can give you the best price. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles you have in your travel account for each airline.

Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking

Are you interested in learning the secrets to travel hacking? First step opening a credit card with a sign-up bonus. There are a lot of fantastic credit cards that provide various benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and the features that are most crucial to you.

Top Credit Card Picks

Here are a few credit card options that can be great to use for hacking travel:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Chase United Explorer
  • JetBlue Mastercard
  • Capital One Venture X

After you’ve been accepted for a credit or debit card, you’ll need to reach the limit of spending minimum in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to check for the details. Then, it’s all about racking miles and using them to plan your dream trip!

Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your goals?

Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, it’s time to redeem them for some delicious travel! Different credit card providers will have different methods for redeeming your points, but here are some examples from some of the ones I’ve worked with:

Escape through Chase Ultimate Reward

If you’re a holder of 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 the points as well as cash in order to pay for your next trip. You can even book entirely using points if you’ve got enough balance! Sometimes, even if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire cost, you still can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with the credit card of your choice.

 

United

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 with dollars or points? Butbe aware, if you don’t have enough points, you can’t combine points and dollars on flights. Don’t worry, though, if you’re only a couple of point short United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.

JetBlue

Looking for a domestic flight? 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 that allows customers to book using either JetBlue dollar or points, however, not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature that allows you to combine your points with your family members and earn points twice as fast. 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 like me and my travel buddy Becca You’re probably quite economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum spend for the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and are here to share our tips and tricks.

Pay your rent (if you can)

This is an important one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using credit card, then do it! Be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3%. It might be worth it in the long run when the bonus is large enough.

Pay for a medical bill

Another way to reach the minimum spend is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses in the near future, ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they will pay you back.

Make a payment to pay off the loan

If you have any loans take into consideration repaying them using the credit card you have. Make sure to pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with more debt.

Ask family for help

Discuss your family with them and see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can contribute for. Make sure that you are able to trust the person and they understand why you’re doing this.

Buy gifts

If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts with cards from your credit account. In this way, you’ll meet the minimum spending limit and also be ready for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were already contemplating to.

There are many ways to make the most of your travel credit card. accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:

Pay for travel expenses using your credit card

When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car, and other travel costs. In addition, you’ll be able to meet the minimum amount of spending required to earn your credit card reward, but you’ll also earn points or miles on the expenses.

Utilize your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday expenses

Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending and earn points is by making use of your credit card to pay for every day expenses. This could be things like food, gas and even your telephone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t pay interest.

Take advantage of bonus categories

A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or points in exchange on certain kinds of purchases, like eating out or travelling. Make sure you review the rewards program of your credit card and avail any bonus categories that align with your spending habits.

Take into consideration the possibility of transferring your balance

If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer the balance to a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will let you pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.

Use your points or miles wisely

If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize them in a responsible manner. Examine the rewards program of your credit card and compare the worth of various redemption options. For example, using points to book a ticket directly with the airline could provide you with a greater return than using them for the purchase of a gift card.

Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer your rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of options and greater flexibility when redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a Hotel rewards programme. This will give you access to a wider range of flights, hotels as well as other travel perks that may not be accessible through the rewards program on your credit card.

Also, determine whether your credit card has certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.

If you’re traveling with someone else and both of you earn rewards with your own credit card. Make sure you don’t split the cost on the same card. Also, make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.

In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your travel rewards is to know your credit card’s rewards program and ensure that you’re using your credit card in the most effective way possible. Through all of the methods I’ve described, you’ll be able to earn rewards quickly, redeem them for valuable travel experiences and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.