The First 6 Steps to Travel Hack Successfully
So, you’ve decided to travel hack and travel the world for free. Now what?
On my road to Financial Independence, Early Retirement, I’m committed to still living life!
In fact, I’m even more motivated to start crossing stuff off my bucketlist - today! So, after hearing about Travel Hacking on Our Rich Journey’s YouTube channel, I felt like I’d found the golden ticket! I wanted to be more strategic with my finances, but I also wanted to continue globetrotting like a true girl boss.
So, I’m going to travel hack across the globe!
to some, free money to travel, it sounds too good to be true!
And, for some, it is! Please check out my post about 4 People who Shouldn’t Travel Hack before you decide to give travel hacking (or using credit card incentives to get free flights and hotel rooms) at try! It can be dangerous to your financial well-being if not done correctly.
Here are the first 6 steps you need to take to travel hack successfully!
Research the right credit card.
There are so many resources on Travel Hacking on the internet! Be weary about resources that have affiliate links in them [like this link to Chase Sapphire Preferred that gives me 10,000 bonus points if you sign up]. Here’s the type of credit card you should be looking for when you start travel hacking:
Zero fee the first year
Bonus of at least 30,000 points
A spend amount for the bonus that you can reach
Transfer partners that fly or have hotels where you plan on traveling in the next 6 months to a year
I’m starting with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for my first travel hack. Both of the travel hacking experts I follow recommended it, and To get the bonus points of 50,000 points (or about $625 in travel funds) I need to spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months. For me with my business expenses with Grit HQ - totally doable!
2. Apply for a card.
I spent about a month doing research on travel hacking before I decided to dive in. Since the model for travel hacking involves continually (every 3-4 months) opening up new cards and getting bonus points, don’t kill yourself too much finding “the perfect” card. Again, I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred first, since it seems to have the most travel partners and it’s what other travel hackers started with!
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3. Once you receive your card, immediately transfer all regular expenses onto your card.
The day I received my card, I transferred my reoccurring monthly expenses onto the card: Amazon Prime and billing, Hulu subscriptions, and all of my business expenses.
These are my monthly business subscriptions I transferred to being billed on my new credit card.
I Reduced my Business Expenses by $10,000 a Year the same time I decided start travel hacking, so I was worried about reaching minimum spend for the incentive ($4,000 in three months) with my minimalist lifestyle. I’m also going to try to pay my health insurance via the card. We’ll see how it goes!
Remember to NOT increase expenses just to reach the bonus amount.
4. Put “Pay credit card bill” on your Google Calendar or Project management tool.
The biggest way your travel hacking dreams can go south is if you either (1) don’t reach the bonus amount on the credit card or (2) leave a balance on your card. So, make sure to hold yourself accountable by paying off your card. For me, I do my bookkeeping through Quickbooks SE each Friday, so I have set a reoccurring weekly Friday task in my Asana Task Management software to pay off the balance on the credit card.
5. Pay off credit card weekly.
Remember, this is a plan to SAVE money! Not a plan to pay 26% interest. Every payment you miss or penny of interest you pay in an attempt to travel hack is a penny of “FREE TRAVEL” you are losing. Be smart. Be diligent. And, don’t EVER have a balance on your card for more than 2 weeks.
6. Monitor amount needed to get reward points.
Check in on your spending - I recommend bi-weekly, to make sure you are on track to reach your bonus spend. And, if you aren’t there are ways to “spend money” without spending money outside your budget! Message me and I’ll give you some free advice!