Travel Hacking refers to the utilization of points from credit card, hotel and airline loyalty programs for free or discount travels. Travel Hacking plays a big part in my vacation planning. It allows me to have an enjoyable vacation for less. Most importantly, travel hacking really help free up my monthly cash flow for savings, student loan repayment and investment contribution.
TRAVEL HACKING BEGINNERS:
For beginners, I recommend starting with the CHASE ULTIMATE REWARDS (UR) point system. Your goal is to earn as many UR points as possible on your everyday spending. First, apply for the CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE CREDIT CARD (CSR) and the CHASE FREEDOM UNLIMITED CREDIT CARD (CFU). The sign up bonus should be a nice start to your UR points collection.
Use the CSR for your TRAVEL and DINING spending for 3X UR points per $1 spent. The way CHASE define “TRAVEL” is very board. For example, uber, subway tickets, train tickets, airline miles purchase directly from airline all qualify for 3X.
What I love about CSR is the Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance. If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip. I used to buy travel insurance before getting this card. CSR has saved me hundreds of dollars on this alone. The card also comes with $300 annual travel credit and airport lounge access. There is an annual fee of $450, however, the benefit here far outweighs the cost.
To compliment the CSR, use the CFU for ALL OTHER SPENDING for 1.5X UR points per $1. That’s it, very simple. You can sit back and watch your UR points grow.
Now, once you build up your points, DO NOT REDEEM IT FOR CASH! The best use of UR Points is to transferring them to your airline mileage program for award tickets redemption at 1:1 transfer.
When you have time, study CHASE’s airline transfer partner’s mileage programs. Figure out how many miles/points you need for free tickets. Some may require less miles than others for award tickets for different routes. Of note, you will get better dollar value when you redeem the miles/points for business class tickets. Another pointer is you can often use less miles from an international airline to book a partner U.S. domestic airline award ticket.
If you are comfortable with applying for another credit card, I recommend going for the CHASE FREEDOM CREDIT CARD which has a rotating 5X earning quarterly category (up to $1500). But for some people, it is not worth the time to keep switching cards in and out for quarterly spendings.