How to Travel Hack with Credit Card Rewards Points

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credit-card-851506_1920Want to travel but don’t have the money to fund all the trips you’d like to take? Traveling is expensive and with the average trip or vacation costing around $1,145 or $4,580 for a family of four, it’s hard for people to squeeze that much money out of their budget each year to fund their travels.

Travel hacking with credit card reward points and cashback has changed the way people view traveling and makes the expense and experience more affordable for them.

So What is Travel Hacking Exactly?

Travel hacking consists of working to accumulate airline miles or credit card reward points to help fund your travels instead of having to pay the cash out of your own pocket. Most people who travel hack sign up for credit cards that offer a generous sign-on bonus.

For example, one credit card can have an offer for new accounts that allows you to receive 40,000 reward points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months along with waiving the annual fee for holding the card. That 40,000 of reward points can be equivalent to $400 to use for travel and if your flight total is less than $400, you can pay for it in full with points.

There are also frequent flier reward cards and hotel rewards cards that allow you to score free nights along with other accommodations at some of your favorite hotel chains all over the world. The act of using credit cards to receive travel benefits is often call credit card churning and some people churn multiple credit cards at once to help fund their trips.

Sites like Richmond Savers and The Points Guy share extra tips and strategies for travel hackers along with some impressive stories.

In Order to Be Successful with Travel Hacking, You Should:

  • Have good credit and be committed to keeping it that way. If you don’t have great credit, you probably won’t qualify for many reward point offers.
  • Pay off the balance on your card in full every month. Travel hackers don’t sign up for credit cards to get into debt. They sign up to receive the benefits without damaging their credit score and spending more than they can afford. It’s important to only spend what you can afford to pay off each month, because you won’t really be saving money or scoring a travel deal if you are carrying a balance on your card. Use your credit card like a debit card and spend only on regular expenses that you would normally spend on.

 

Start with Just One Card

If you are new to travel hacking, it’s best to start with just one card to try it out so you can stay organized and not get overwhelmed. My first card was with American Express and the offer was to spend $1,000 in three months for 50,000 reward points.

Have a Goal in Mind for Your Travels

Deciding on which card to sign up with can be tricky. To help, you should have a goal in mind of where you’d like to travel and what expenses you’ll need help with. If you are wanting to save money on the flight, you might look into a frequent flier rewards program or compare credit cards with rewards points that can be used for airfare.

Also, consider where you’d like to travel because that can have a huge effect on what types of cards you should get. Make a list of the places you’d like to visit and the airlines that go there along with what types of hotels or accommodations might be available.

You can use NerdWallet’s helpful tool to help compare tons of credit cards for travel to determine which one will work best for you.

Have you ever tried travel hacking with credit cards before? What destinations are on your travel bucket list?

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