You’ve no doubt heard of this nice little trick called travel hacking – it has been a popular practice with seasoned travelers for many years. Now people are starting to use strategy to rack up credit card points to travel for little to no money.
Are you ready to travel hack?
What is Travel Hacking?
Travel hacking is the process using your credit card for purchases, thereby racking up points or miles for all manner of travel-related products and services.
Things like flights, car rentals and hotel stays are all up for grabs, and you can use accumulated points to pay for these things, getting them for free or heavily discounted.
While there are other methods of travel hacking, using credit cards is the most common and easiest way to pay for much (or all) of your travel-related expenses. If you want to get $11 flights, here's how I am able to scan for cheaper flights and then, use my reward points to lock in the flight for $11.20.
Weird Tactics for Accumulating Points
Some people go to crazy lengths to accumulate points. Do you remember the guy who earned over one million airline miles by buying 12,000 pudding cups. Or the practice of credit card churning – opening several credit accounts at once, just to get the sign-up bonus, then closing the accounts as soon as the bonus hits.
The Secret Credit Card Points Strategy for Traveling at Little to No Cost to Your
There are much better ways to achieve travel hacking greatness, and here’s how: If you have a partner, then, take advantage of the referral bonuses.
First, find a credit card with the best referral bonuses. That means they add POINTS to your account when you refer a friend. So refer your partner.
For example, Capital One allows you to refer a friend for 25,000 bonus points & when you spend up to $4500 in the first 90 days, you get another 50,000 point bonus. American Express gives you a 75,000 signup bonus just for signing up. Then, you get 25,000 for referring your partner.
That means you get enough points for a free round-trip to Europe. And your partner gets a free round-trip to Europe. What?!
Pay Off Your Credit Card Balances
Once you get one or two cards, you can start charging your daily expenses and/or other expenses in order to rack up points or miles. However, you will need to budget accordingly and make absolutely sure that you are able to pay off your charges, each and every month.
Because the minute you start to get charged interest for your spending, the whole point of travel hacking flies out the window. You want these travel perks for free, and if you are paying interest, you are not getting them for free.
Here's where it gets crazy: Once you get the bonus points, transfer them to your airline rewards. For example, inside my Chase Rewards, I can click on TRANSFER TO MY AIRLINE and those points show up inside my airline account.
Then, do it all again. Get all new cards & all new referral bonuses & do it all again.
Additional Credit Card Rewards
Here are some examples of additional perks you can get with many travel rewards cards:
- Free airport lounge access
- Discounts on other products/services (not just travel)
- Uber credits
- Fee credit on your TSA Pre-check or Global Entry application
- Elite status with select hotels/airlines
- Free first-class upgrades
- Free hotel stays (you pay state fees)
What I Have Gotten Because of Credit Card Points
Travel hacking using credit card rewards points can be very lucrative – if you do it correctly. As long as you have decent credit and pay off your balance every month, you too can become an expert travel hacker.
Here are some weird things I have used my credit card points for:
One year, I traded my points for 500 gift cards at Best Buy. Then, I randomly gave out the gift cards to students at my old college.
One year, I traded my points for a brand new fence from Home Depot. My out of pocket expenses: $0
This Friday, I am traveling to visit my friends in Louisville, KY using my points. Grand total: $20 (airline fee) Update: This was my last trip before COVID hit us the following week.
So this year, I'm starting a travel hacking series to really dive into this. I want to find the highest BONUS POINTS & REFERRAL POINT credit cards & some great travel deals so we can see the world at very little cost to us.
Leave a comment below and let me know what's the best thing you've gotten with your credit card points?
This is what I’m going to be doing this year. Putting everything on a credit card to cash in my points.