Travel hacking is a phrase that is banded around in travelling circles more and more frequently. With our modern need to ‘hack’ everything, including the popular phrase ‘life hacks’, it’s no surprise that travel has started to be added into the mix. But what exactly is travel hacking? Definitions typically vary but normally revolve around the premise of being able to maximise points, rewards and loyalty programmes to be able to travel and visit locations for much cheaper than a standard tourist! Most, if not all travel hacks are legitimate and legal, but many will require at least some research and time dedication to really understand how they can benefit you. In this article, we look to uncover the basic principles of travel hacking will show some examples of how you can get started.
First off, it’s important to point out that travel hacking is much more prevalent in the US. This is because banks, hotels and airlines have many more loyalty, points and miles programmes than over here in the UK. The US has a wide plethora of credit cards, many with generous rewards. That said, if you’re in the UK, it certainly isn’t impossible to bag yourself some super cheap flights using these tips.
They Value Loyalty
Loyalty is at the core of the travel hacking phenomenon, although rather ironically, successful travel hackers are far from loyal. Loyalty programmes such as frequent flyer and hotel loyalty schemes require people to sign up, a short process that many people often never bother to do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning on staying in the same hotel chain, or flying with the same airline again, or not, you should be signing up for these programmes. Collect as many points as possible and try to squeeze as much value from your money as possible.
Credit Cards are King
Credit cards are the enabler which makes travel hacking possible. Credit cards, both in the UK and the US come with rewards such as bonus miles or a certain amount of loyalty points. Additionally, they will offer a certain amount of points per pound you spend meaning that the more you use the card, the more points you earn. Assuming that you pay off the card at the end of every month, you’ll be able to accumulate points without spending beyond your usual allocation.
To be a successful hacker, taking out more than one card is a must; however, this should only be done when you have become accustomed to being able to manage your cards. You should never take out a credit card if you are unable to repay the sum in full at the end of each month as the interest on the card will eliminate any benefits you are gaining. For this method to work, credit cards should be treated as debit cards.
It’s also important to be aware of which cards offer which bonuses. Some cards will come with a signing-up bonus while others offer benefits when you spend on specific products or at certain stores. When taking out multiple cards, make sure you read the small print to best understand where you can get the most value for money and maximise your rewards.
Travel Hacking in the UK
As we mentioned at the start of the article, the UK is still lagging behind the US when it comes to dishing out juicy credit card rewards and bonuses, so don’t expect to be earning free flights every month. However, if you stick with the programme and stay committed, you’ll soon see your points racking up! If you’re in the UK and would like to start your travel hacking adventures, here are a few tips to get you started.
Tesco Clubcard Points
The Tesco Clubcard is an excellent introduction into the travel hacking world. Clubcard points can be traded in for Avios; these are points which can be redeemed on British Airways flights. This is a gentle way to get into the mindset of maximising value and, over time, can contribute to some cheaper flights.
British Airways Credit Card
If you’re a frequent flyer with British Airways, this is a great option for a first credit card. The basic version of the card comes with a 5,000 Avios bonus if you spend £1,000 within the first three months; achievable for many. If you’re a bigger spender, then the premium version of the card may be more appealing. The card comes with a £195 annual fee but offers 25,000 Avios welcome bonus if you spend £3,000 in the first three months. You also get 3 Avios for every £1 spent on BA flights.
If you do a lot of your shopping online, whether you’re buying clothes, home products or groceries, then shopping portals are a great way to maximise your value. Many airlines and credit cards have shopping portals for many popular online retailers, many you’ll be more than familiar with. You’ll be able to earn points just through shopping as you would!
Why not redeem some of your points on a trip to come skiing in Morocco with us? We have loads of great experience holidays on our site, from Ethiopia to Slovenia! We’d also love to know how you make the most of your money through travel, get in touch with us with your tips on Facebook and Twitter.
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