Have you ever heard the term “travel-hacking?” Have you heard about people traveling with points and miles for almost free? You may have thought that these people are spending all kinds of money to earn these travel points, but the truth is, travel hackers are just people like you and me on a budget! Travel hackers have learned how to use credit cards to work for them! If this seems too good to be true, keep reading! Here is an Easy Travel Hacking Guide for Beginners and a couple of ways to get started.
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Guest Author: Keri Haverland
Easy Travel Hacking for Beginners
What is Travel Hacking?
Travel hacking is essentially learning to use travel credit cards that earn points or miles to obtain free flights and hotel stays. It really has 3 main components. First, it can include strategically opening up credit cards throughout the year and putting all of your basic expenses on them for 2-3 months to earn sign-up bonuses (lots of travel points.) The second piece is learning the best travel credit card to use on purchases to maximize point earnings. The third piece of travel hacking is knowing the best travel redemptions to get the best bang for your buck!
Save up extra spending money by scanning all your receipts for the year too!
There is A LOT of information out there about travel-hacking and it can often seem overwhelming. But, the good news is, you don’t have to know everything to begin. You can start by getting one really good travel credit card and build from there! Social Media is full of “travel hackers” that can help you along the way. There are also several ways to go about “travel-hacking”, but there are some tried and true ways that most beginners use.
Just like anything, it is important to have a goal in mind. First, think of where you would like to travel, who you would like to travel with, and when you would like to take the trip. Having travel goals will help you figure out the best route to take when starting the travel-hacking process.
Accumulating Miles and Points
The first thing to do in starting your travel-hacking journey is to open up a great “starter” card. The #1 card I would recommend is the Chase Sapphire Preferred! This card is my favorite for many reasons! It has a great sign-up bonus of earning 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months. This card earns Ultimate Rewards points. These points can be used in so many different ways! You can transfer them to a variety of airlines and hotels. My favorite way to use these points are on Hyatt stays and Southwest flights, but there are so many more partners you can transfer to as well. The Chase Sapphire Preferred can also get you 3X points on dining, streaming services, and online groceries. You also get 2X points on travel. Finally, this is one of the best travel cards because it has great travel insurance and only has a $95 annual fee. I am saving thousands each year on travel, so $95 once a year is more than worth it!
Once you get comfortable with opening up a “starter” card, it is recommended to open up a couple of other cards that complement it. This means that there are some cards that you can use strategically for different types of purchases to get extra points. When you do this, you can then transfer those points to your starter card and you will have so many more points to use for your trips! While this is recommended, you can travel-hack at your own speed and do what works best for your family. This is the great thing about it, you can do what works for you!
There are some other “hacks” to earn you extra points in addition to the points earned on your credit card(s). There are sites called shopping portals that you can use while shopping online. You simply go to this website before making your purchase at an online store. This can help you earn extra points just by first going through a specific shopping portal (website). There are even dining programs you can sign up for to help you earn some extra points! Depending on your favorite airline or hotel brand, you can even find surveys to fill out or extra ways to earn points here and there.
Maximizing Travel Rewards and Staying Organized
As you learn more about travel hacking and ways to earn points, it is a good idea to stay organized. One way I stay organized is to use a spreadsheet to know what card to use for different kinds of purchases and everyday expenses.
Another way to organize your travel credit cards is by using the Travel Freely App. This app helps you know when an annual fee is due, how many cards you have open, etc. There are several other apps out there as well to help you know what cards to use at different places and even apps like TravelSpend that help you keep track of how much money you are spending on each trip you take to stay on budget.
Won’t this ruin my credit and finances?
Did you know that travel hacking the right way can actually improve your credit score?! By being disciplined, using your credit cards like a debit card, and paying your credit card off each month (to avoid accruing interest), you can actually increase your credit score! So, not only can you start traveling more for a lot less, you can actually make progress toward your financial goals and use that extra travel savings to invest, save, etc.
Travel Hacking Tools and Resources
As I mentioned earlier, there are several websites and social media influencers that can help you learn more about easy travel hacking for beginners. If this is something you are curious about and would like to learn more about the specifics of travel hacking, please join my friend Lauren and I on Facebook at KC Travel Hackers. We would love to help you get started and give you more specifics about what was mentioned above! We are both based out of Kansas City, but anyone is welcome to join! Happy Traveling!
Ask questions in the group and don’t forget to let us know that Enza’s Bargains sent you!