Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel problems. It’s a fun way to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can fly for no cost in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus and incentives for airline miles. These miles can later be used to pay for discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also allow you to redeem miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in travel hacking is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and building out a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When you are ready to make a booking consider the cost. If the cost is under $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise above $500, you’ll want to look into your frequent flyer accounts to determine which airline offers you the best price. All it boils down to is the number of points or miles in your travel bank for every airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is opening a credit card with a sign-up offer. There are plenty of great credit cards with various benefits and features. It depends on the type of airline, spending habits and what features are crucial to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards 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 make certain to verify the details. From there it’s all about building up miles, and using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to go on a jet-setting with your points?
Now that you’ve built up the points amount, it’s time to use them towards nice travel! Different credit card companies will have different methods for redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the companies I have experience with:
Take a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase card, you can redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll get access to nearly every airline and you can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your next trip. 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 cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you realize that when booking directly through United You have the option of paying with dollars or points? But, be careful that if you don’t have enough points you can’t combine dollars and points for flights. Don’t worry, though, if you’re only a couple of points short, United provides the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience that includes extra legroom and free snacks. Additionally, their booking process is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue either dollars or points but not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you combine your points with your relatives to earn points twice as quickly. Be sure to verify that you are a family member before trying to hack the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re anything like me and my travel companion Becca, you’re probably pretty thrifty and it’s daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the required amount to qualify for credit card bonuses. But don’t fret because we’ve been there 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 using a credit card, do it! Make sure you be charged a fee, typically about 3 percent. It may be worth it in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Make a payment on a medical expense
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to cover an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses coming up then ask your family members to pay for theirs and they will reimburse you.
Repay the loan
If you have any loans, consider making payments on them with an credit card. Be sure to pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t end up with additional debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Ask your family members to see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Just make sure you trust the person and they understand why you’re taking the initiative.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all of your gifts with your credit card. This way you can reach the minimum spending requirement and also be prepared to give gifts. Be sure to avoid paying more than you already planning to.
There are a lot of methods to get the most from the travel credit card. You can accrue points or miles to be used towards flights or other travel-related expenses. Here are a few additional ways to maximize your rewards
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, make use of the travel credit card to pay for your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. Not only will you be able to meet the minimum spend to qualify for a 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 hit the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is by using your credit card to pay everyday expenses. This could be things like gas, groceries, and even your phone bill. Be sure to pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Take advantage of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, such as dining or travel. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and avail the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Consider the possibility of transferring your balance
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, consider transferring that balance onto an account with a travel credit card that has an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfer. This will let you pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also assist you in reaching the minimum spending requirement for the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles wisely
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 benefits of different redemption options. For example using points to book a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater value than using them for the purchase of a gift card.
Another tip is to use rewards cards that allow you to transfer your reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will allow you to get a wider selection of choices and more flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be capable of transferring your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a Hotel rewards programme. This can give the benefit of a greater variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be accessible through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to discover whether your credit card has any perks that can help you save money on travel expenses. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that could be invaluable when you travel.
Finally, when you’re traveling with someone else, both of you can get rewards on your credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card and make sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
Overall, the key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re using your credit card in the most efficient method. Utilizing an array of strategies I’ve listed in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and take advantage of a broad range of travel perks.