Millions of people take advantage of earning miles to travel the world for limited amounts of money.You can really take advantage of mile offers from travel reward credit cards and use the miles for many free flights. Now first of all when we use the word hack we are not implying any sort of illegal activity. It is just a name given to people who know how to take advantage and get the most miles out a credit card.

What’s a Travel Hacker? 

A travel hacker can best be defined as receiving the greatest amount of reward air miles possible by spending the least amount of money possible. There are methods that can be done to allow you to do this and there’s a whole strategy behind getting the best deal on miles.

As far as credit cards go that give you miles bonuses that you can take advantages of, we give you a list of the best airline credit cards that enable this.

How to Become a ‘Travel Hacker’

Becoming a travel hacker is not a difficult process, you don’t need a lot of money or even a lot of expertise to become a travel hacker.

It will take some time, knowledge and research to learn which programs and rewards are best to use to ‘hack’ miles.

One way to get started is to get your hands on a travel credit card that offers you a good deal on miles, both on a new signup bonus and on future purchases made which give you mile bonuses. Here are the three main things to look for when trying to find a travel credit card that gives you the best bang for your buck, miles wise.

1. Find cards with the largest introductory bonus offers

Look for travel cards that offer that most bonus points that require the lowest amount of spending possible. For example, the Gold Delta Sky Miles credit cards requires you to only spend $1000 to receive 30 000 bonus miles within the first 3 months. Those miles can be used for at least 2 free round trips.

You may be thinking ‘but I have to spend $1000 to receive those points”. True but 2 free round trip flights would cost the same or even more then $1000 and remember your spending that $1000 on items you need or want in the first place. Take make this even better there are ways to spend money on your card by using it for necessities like groceries. Use the card for all your grocery purchases and it will definitely take less than the 3-month limit to spend the $1000.The most important thing however is to ensure you pay off your bill off in full to avoid any interest charges.

Furthermore, some credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card require you to spend $4000 within the first 3 months before you can receive the 40 000 bonus points. Now it is hard to spend that amount on smaller purchases such as groceries so there are a few trick that can be done. You can time it correctly to use your credit card to pay your taxes, then quickly pay off your credit card bill. Furthermore, you can also use your credit card to pay your bills. Many bills comes out of your bank account automatically so it can take some time to switch your bill payment method to credit cards but it will be worth it, Once you have spent enough to receive the bonus points you can switch the methods back to the original payment method.

2. Earn Miles Quickly with Big Purchases

It is very straight forward to quickly accumulate miles very fast. Whenever you make a big purchase such as a t.v., do not pay for it with cash or debit card, pay with your credit card and watch the miles accumulate. Again, it is important to pay the entire bill, or at least most of your bill off each month so you are not spending extra on interest which decreases the value you receive when miles are rewarded. For example if you make a large purchase to accumulate miles but only make a small payment each month on your credit card bill you are spending extra money each month on interest which means you are technically paying more money to receive the same amount of miles.

3. Choose cards with first year annual fee waived

Most travel miles credit card include an annual fee. If you choose a card where the annual fee is waived it allows you to use the card to earn the introductory offer then ditch the card when it comes time to pay the annual fee. Many times if you call the card company and say you are switching cards because of the annual fee they will waive the fee again or reduce the fee. If you wish to close your current rewards card and switch to another a great suggestion would be the Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard because it has the 0% A.P.R. for balance transfers.

Best Airline Credit Cards

Here are our picks for the best airline credit cards that every travel hacker will want to at least take a good look at.

1. Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Benefits

  • earn 30 000 bonus mile after you make $1000 in purchases within first 3 months
  • earn 2 miles per $1 on purchases made directly with Delta
  • earn 1 mile per $1 on all other eligible purchases

Pros

  • first bag is free on every Delta flight
  • large introductory offer
  • receive priority boarding

Cons

  • has an annual fee, waived first year then $95
  • need excellent credit

Best standout feature

  • earn 2 miles for every $1 dollar spent with delta is a good reward rate

Why is this card good for travel hackers?

You only need to spend $1000 to earn the 30 000 bonus miles which can be used for a free roundtrip flight. Also the annual fee is waived for the first year so you can get great value from this card in the first year. You also earn points via flight purchases and any other purchase nets you one reward mile.

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Benefits

  • earn 40 000 bonus points when you spend the first $4000 within the first 3 months of account opening,
  • earn 2x the points on travel and dining purchases, 1 X the point on all other purchases
  • your points earned from the card can be transferred at an equal value to many frequent travel programs at full value. ex 5000 Chase points is equal to 5000 travel partner points
  • regular variable A.P.R. is 15.99%

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fees
  • earn 5000 bonus points after you add first authorized user
  • includes premium trip insurance such as trip cancellation, auto rental insurance etc.

Cons

  • has an annual fee, waived first year then $95
  • more suited for a big spender

Best standout feature

  • earn points on all purchases, great value with 2x the points on travel and dining purchases

Why is this Card good for travel hackers?

While you may have to spend a lot to get the bonus points you earn 2X the points on travel and dining so you do not have to travel frequently to quickly accumulate miles. Use the card when you dine out and you will quickly accumulate points for miles. In addition, the 40 000 bonus miles is more then the average amount for an intro offer. This is one of the most popular cards among travel hackers

3. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Benefits

  • earn 50 000 points after you spend $2000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
  • earn 2 points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases.
  • earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fee
  • won award for best loyalty credit card
  • points don’t expire as well as no blackout dates
  • earn 6000 bonus points every year just for being a card member.

Cons

  • has an annual fee which is not waived the first year ($99)
  • need to have excellent credit

Major standout feature

  • you are rewarded 6000 bonus points every year just for being a card owner, which is something most cards do not offer

Why is this card ideal for travel hackers?

The high bonus offer is easy to receive as you only have to spend $2000 to receive the points, as this is the kind of thing a mile hacker looks for. Also every year you can count on 6000 free points on your card anniversary.

4. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

Benefits

  • earn 25 000 reward points after you spend your first $2000 within first 3 months
  • earn 3X the points on flights booked with airlines, 2X points on gas stations and restaurants, and 1X the points on other purchases
  • receive a $75 hotel credit when you use the card to book a hotel stay for 2 or more consecutive nights

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fees
  • can earn up to $100 credit per year on airline fees
  • high rewards rate on flight purchases

Cons

  • has very expensive annual fee, waived first year then $195
  • there are several terms and limitations

Major standout feature

The very high rate of 3X the points when flights are booked with airlines which is above average, especially for a non co-branded card

Why is this card ideal for travel hackers?

You can use this card consistently on gas and dining and accumulate travel points quickly without even spending on travel. Also the very high rate of 3X the points is higher then the average amount when booking flights through airlines.

5. Citi Platinum Select /AAdvantage World Mastercard

Benefits

  • earn 30 000 bonus miles after making only $1000 in purchases in first 3 months
  • earn 2 advantage miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines/US Airways
  • earn 1 advantage mile for every $1 spent on other purchases

Pros

  • early boarding access with card
  • great sign up bonus
  • includes free baggage check

Cons

  • has an annual fee of $95, although it is waived the first year
  • flat rewards rate

Major standout feature

  • the introductory bonus offer only requires you to spend $1000 to receive the 30 000 bonus miles which is ideal for miles hackers

Why is this card ideal for travel hackers?

  • the bonus offer offers high free miles for only having to spend $1000. Also, you earn rewards on all purchases made with the card and every year the card returns 10% of your redeemed miles back up to 10 000 miles per year. This means you are getting some of the miles you have used back every single year.

6. United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Benefits

  • receive 30 000 bonus miles after you spend the first $1000 within first 3 months
  • earn 2X the tickets purchase from United Airlines and 1X the points everywhere else
  • checking in first bag is free
  • regular variable A.P.R. is 15.99%

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fee
  • points do no expire and are also unlimited
  • use the miles at any time, no restrictive dates

Cons

  • need to have excellent credit
  • has an annual fee ($95)
  • always have to fly with United Airlines

Major standout feature

The points redemption system is idea as points earned with this card do not expire, you can use the miles at any time and there are no restricted dates when you can’t use your points.

Why is this card ideal for travel hackers?

The bonus offer is easy to achieve as you only need to spend $1000 to qualify. The fact that the miles do not expire and there are no restrictions on the dates for which you can travel make this a popular and useful card for mile hackers.

7. Barclays Arrival Plus World elite MasterCard

Benefits

  • earn 40 000 bonus miles after you spend the first $3000 within the first 3 months
  • earn 2X the miles on all purchases
  • includes a 0% intro A.P.R. for balance transfers made in the first 12 months

Pros

  • no foreign transaction fee
  • steady, high 2% rewards rate
  • receive 5% miles back every time you redeem for travel statement credits

Cons

  • has an annual fee ($89) although it is waived in the first year
  • need to have excellent credit

Major standout feature

You are able to consistently earn 2X the miles on all purchases allowing miles to accumulate quickly.

Why is this card ideal for travel hackers?

This card is popular among travel hackers because of the intro offer as well as the high 2% rewards rate on all purchases. If you use the card frequently for many of your purchases you will accumulate miles quickly. Also you get 5% of your miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits which allows you to quickly begin accumulating miles again.