Travel hacking is another name for when you earn Points and Miles for free travel. The quickest, easiest way to do this is with using credit cards. Or rather, the actual act of getting credit cards.
Credit card signup bonuses are a great way to seeing the world for free or at an extremely reduced rate. Not all people and goals are the same when it comes to travelling, which is why one credit card may work great for one person and not another. If you’re financially responsible and want to learn more about travel hacking with credit cards, keep reading.
1. The #1 Rule
If you cannot pay off your entire credit card bill, every month, then don’t even attempt to do any travel hacking. If you pay your whole credit card bill off every month, you will never pay interest on your purchases. This makes travel hacking free.
2. Pay For Everything With a Credit Card
Pay for literally everything with a credit card. You will be rewarded for every purchase when you pay with a credit card, via points or miles that you can use for free travel.
3. Look for Signup Bonuses
Unless you spend a huge amount every month on your cards, the points and miles you earn will always be eclipsed by any potential signup bonuses you will receive. Also called welcome bonuses, these are incentives offered by credit card companies that can get you up to $1,000 worth of free travel every year.
4. Watch Your Credit Score
The best way to improve your credit (again, if you’re financially responsible and can pay off your credit card bills in full every month) is to have multiple cards. Your credit score is made up of how well you pay your bills in full every month, how much you owe compared to how much credit you have, and the length of your credit history with a particular card. The only exception is if you are trying to get a big loan or mortgage; in that scenario, it’s best not to order any credit cards during the six months before the loan or mortgage application.
5. Keep Old Credit Cards Open
The length of your credit history is 15 percent of your credit score and it is one variable that is easy for you to control. The easiest way to do this is to keep your oldest credit cards open. If they have a fee, ask about downgrading the card to a no-fee card and then put it somewhere safe and forget about it.
6. Get Some Cards and Never Use Them
If you come across a card with a great signup bonus, even if you don’t plan on using the card, get it anyway. There’s nothing saying you have to use every credit card you own. If you like, cancel it before your Year 2 annual fee comes due. When you sign up, make sure that you find out what happens with your travel credits, miles, or points once you cancel the card. This way you will have 11 months to come up with a plan to transfer the points or use them.
7. Unlock Signup Bonuses
Almost all credit cards with decent signup bonuses will require that you spend a certain amount of money on the card within the first three months to unlock the signup bonus. The first year’s annual fee doesn’t count towards this purchase. Make sure you know the details of the requirement so you don’t miss the deadline, or you won’t get the signup bonus.