If you love to travel as much as I do, you know that the cost of flights, hotels, and transportation can add up quickly and put a dent in the bank account. The rising costs of goods and services has made it extremely difficult for people to travel as much as they would like. This is why I decided to learn the art of travel hacking. You might ask, “What is travel hacking?” Travel hacking is a strategy used to take advantage of credit card welcome bonuses and learning how to utilize your daily spending to earn additional points.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links.
How to Start Travel Hacking
There may be some doubt in your mind when you first hear about travel hacking (understandably so). It does sound too good to be true, but if you are responsible and play the “game” the right way, you can benefit from the free travel. When opening a new credit card, you have to pay your bills on time, or travel hacking will not be for you.
Create your First Travel Hacking Trip
Want to take a trip to Hawaii next year? You can get those flights or hotels covered by reward points. First, you want to figure out how many points are needed for your trip. If you are a loyal Southwest Airlines customer or love staying at Marriott properties, you will want to find credit cards that maximize points for those brands, while also aligning with your normal spending habits. Or you may just want to find the cheapest way possible to arrive and stay at your destination. There is a way to plan for that as well. Travel hacking is not one-size fits all – everyone is different and wants to enjoy traveling in numerous ways.
Get a Travel Credit Card
The best travel card anyone can start out with is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. After spending $4,000 in the first three months that the card is open, you will earn 60,000 bonus points. According to Chase, the 60,000 points can be worth up to $750 in travel. Chase is the best travel credit card to begin with because the points can be transferred at a 1-to-1 ratio to numerous hotel and airline reward programs. For instance, if you are a Southwest Rapid Reward member, you could transfer your 60,000 bonus points into 60,000 Rapids Reward points.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Highlights:
- $95 annual fee
- 5x points on travel booked through Chase Travel Portal
- 3x points on dining, select online streaming, and online grocery orders
- 2x points on travel
- 10% anniversary points boost
- $50 annual hotel credit through Chase Travel Portal
Meet Your Spending Requirement
In order to receive the welcome bonus, you need to hit the spending requirement during the duration of the offer. For the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you would need to spend $4,000 in the first three months of the card being opened. If you are not able to meet this requirement, I would not recommend opening the card. The biggest benefit of travel hacking is taking advantage of generous welcome bonuses. Keep track of your budget monthly and you can find out if your spending is on pace to reach the threshold.
Tip: Pay for things that you will get reimbursed for (grabbing takeout for friends, booking an AirBnb for a friends trip, buying items for work, etc.). This is a perfect way to earn points, while not spending more of your own money.
Enjoy your Bonus Points
Congrats, you reached the spending requirement and were granted the welcome bonus. In the process of earning the bonus points, you will also have racked up points with the 3x points on dining/online grocery orders and 2x points on any travel purchases.
Your Chase points can be redeemed in the Chase Travel Portal or you can transfer your points to your favorite airline or hotel reward program.
Travel hacking is not for everybody, but if you commit to the “game” long-term it can offer serious rewards on your next vacation. This post is really just a beginner’s guide. There are so many layers of travel hacking and the ability to sign up for multiple welcome bonuses throughout a year can really pay dividends. If you are just starting out, take it slow. As they say, “Rome was not built in a day.” Start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and begin your travel hacking journey today!
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