I first started out exploring and researching travel hacking because I wanted to know how to use credit card rewards to pay for our honeymoon flights. This was the first area that I extensively studied: credit card rewards. I had two credit cards (with no annual fee) before I found out about how to utilize rewards for travel. I always paid my cards in full and loved getting cashback. However, I didn’t realize the full potential of these rewards until I did more reading/research.
As I continued to follow more travel hacking bloggers, I then stumbled across manufactured spending. The basic concept was to buy cash equivalents with a credit card and then use those cash equivalents to pay off your credit card bill. It usually consisted of a two to four step process, but could be well worth your time if you were trying to meet minimum spending on multiple cards. Without manufactured spending, I could only $1.5k/month on my credit card. However, with manufactured spending I could potentially “spend” $3k/month or more. This allowed me to be able to meet minimum spending requirements for multiple credit cards at a time.
In late 2015 and early 2016, a lot of manufactured spending sources started to go away. It was getting more difficult to do. This is how I stumbled across gift card arbitrage and reselling via Amazon FBA. These are both methods that I use to generate extra income aside from my day job.
Now that I was looking into signing up for multiple credit cards at a given time I had to learn the effect it would have on my credit score. I also started to learn all of the rules that many banks have in place, which might prevent you from being approved for a credit card.
This then lead me to wanting to learn more about personal finance. I wanted to know where and how to invest. I was already budgeting, but I wanted to figure out how to better organize my finances. There are a lot more books out there about the topic of personal finance as opposed to travel hacking (probably because travel hacking is constantly evolving hence blogging is more efficient).
Of course, once you have all the credit card points, airline miles, and hotel points you have to figure out how to use them. This is actually a lot more difficult than it sounds sometimes. This is because many airlines and hotels limit the amount of award availability. Award travel takes planning and flexibility. It is important to learn how to best use the points you’ve accumulated. At the same time, just because you don’t get the highest possible value for a given point/miles doesn’t mean it isn’t a good redemption. Remember, the least valuable point is the one you never use. Airlines and hotels are constantly devaluing their award charts. You don’t want to get caught with tons of points in the bank when they do this.
As I started exploring the places we could go, I realized the possibilities were endless. I started reading about travel in general and how to make the most of our time at a given place.
I briefly researched how to earn different loyalty program status, but in the end since I don’t often book my hotels or flights with cash… it didn’t seem worth it to invest too much time in one given loyalty program.
As you can see, there are tons of different facets to travel hacking. It is impossible to be an expert on all of these different areas which is why I constantly find myself reading blog articles and learning new tricks. This is also why my blog posts consist of such a wide range of topics.