Are you fed up of spending an enormous amount on flights? Good news! Travel hacking can be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card bonus and sign-up incentives into miles which can be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free within a matter of minutes.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses as well as incentives to earn airline miles. These miles can later be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards allow you to redeem miles towards hotel stays or rental car deals.
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 a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight, evaluate the cost. If the cost is less than $300, it’s best to pay in cash and save your miles to book a higher-priced flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to check your frequent flyer accounts to find out which airline will give you the best deal. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel bank for each airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Are you interested in learning the secrets to hacking travel? The first step is opening the credit card that comes that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that offer many benefits and features. It all depends on your preferred airline, your habits with spending and the features that are most essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards excellent 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 need to reach the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to receive the bonus. Every card has different rules, so be sure to look up this information. 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 points?
After you’ve accrued the points amount, it’s time to use them towards sweet getaway! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the companies I’ve had experience with:
Take a trip through Chase Ultimate Reward
If you’re a holder of a Chase cards, you are able to redeem your points through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through it, you’ll have access to nearly every airline, and you can combine points and cash to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely using points if you’ve got the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you don’t have enough points to cover the total price, you can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with any credit card.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying using either points or dollars? But, be careful in case you do not have enough points you aren’t able to combine dollars and points for one flight. Don’t worry, though, if you’re only a couple of points away, United provides the option of buying additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience with extra legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to United’s, allowing you to book with either JetBlue dollar or points however, not both. However, JetBlue has a unique feature that allows you to pool your points together with family members to accrue points twice as fast. Make sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Reach that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me or my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn a credit card bonus. Don’t worry as we’ve done it and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able pay your rent with credit card, go for it! 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 way to reach the minimum spend is to pay for an medical bill. If you do not have any medical expenses due then ask your family members if you can pay their medical bills and they’ll reimburse you.
Pay off the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about repaying them using the credit card you have. Make sure to pay off the balance on your credit card completely so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family for help
Talk to your family and see if they have 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 know why you’re doing it.
If you’re celebrating the holidays take into consideration buying all your gifts with the credit card you have. So you’ll be able to hit that minimum spend and also be prepared for giving gifts. Make sure that you’re not spending more than you already planning to.
There are plenty of ways to get the most of the travel credit card and accrue points or miles to be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few more ideas for maximizing your rewards:
Make travel reservations using your credit card
When you’re planning your next trip, use you travel credit card to book your flight, hotel, rental car, and any other travel expenses. In addition, you’ll achieve the required amount to qualify for a credit card and earn points, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover those expenditures.
Utilize your credit card to pay for everyday expenses
Another way to meet the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points using your credit card for everyday expenditures. This could be things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, such as dining or travel. Be sure to review the rewards program of your credit card and make use of any bonus categories that match with your spending habits.
Consider a balance transfer
If you have existing debt on a high-interest credit card, think about transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debts without accruing interest and simultaneously aid in achieving the minimum spend for the credit card’s bonus.
Make use of your miles or points prudently
When you’ve earned a significant amount of miles or points, be sure to use them wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the value of different redemption options. For example using points to purchase a flight directly with the airline could give you a better value than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use an rewards card that permits you to transfer your reward points into other loyalty programmes. This will allow you to have a wider range of options and greater flexibility when making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be able to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or hotel rewards program. This can give you access to a greater variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that aren’t offered through the rewards program of your credit card.
Additionally, try to find out if your credit card offers any perks that can save you money on travel-related expenses. Some cards offer travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection and other benefits that are invaluable when you travel.
If you’re traveling with a friend and both of you get rewards on 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.
The key to making the most of your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program on your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most effective method possible. Utilizing a combination of the strategies I’ve listed in this article, you’ll be able earn rewards quickly, redeem them for travel experiences that are worth it, and enjoy a wide variety of travel benefits.