As a travel hacking newbie, we recognize how hard it is to keep up with all the new vocabulary and rules. Hence, we give you our Travel Hacking FAQs. We will give you a short explanation and link you to our articles that give you a more detailed explanation.
In a nutshell, it is this:
Minimum spend is the minimum amount of spending you must put on a credit card in order to get your bonus. This differs from card to card. We advise putting all expenses that you can on a credit card and not using cash or debit cards. We also advise meeting your minimum spend through normal, everyday spending and not on whims. Do NOT get into credit card debt. We also recommend opening up a new card when you have a big purchase coming up. This will make it a lot easier to hit that minimum spend.
My credit scores are higher than they were when I started. We all have credit scores over 800. So do our spouses. This is definitely one of the most common travel hacking myths. Of all the travel hacking FAQs, this might be the one we get the most! Here are the basics to remember; pay off your card in full and on time each month, and don’t close your oldest cards.
People often wonder if their credit score will go down if they open and close a bunch of credit cards. In reality, we don’t close that many of our cards. We keep ones that don’t have an annual fee or if the benefits outweigh the annual fee. If we don’t find the benefits worth the fee, then we look to downgrade that card to a no-annual-fee version. If there is no downgrade option, then we cancel. You can learn more about whether or not you should cancel a card in this post.
There are primarily three types of rewards:
Some credit cards have an annual fee, and some don’t. This annual fee can range from about $75 – $695. Usually, the annual fee offers benefits to offset the fee. For example, many hotel credit cards offer a free night every year when you renew the card and pay the annual fee. This more than makes up for the fee.
I have stayed at hotels that would cost up to $900/night with a free hotel night certificate. The first year, when you receive the signup bonus, the annual fee is always worth it. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a standard welcome offer of 60,000 points. This is worth a minimum of $750 towards travel. The card has an annual fee of $95, but I will happily pay $95 to get $750+ of travel!
Definitely not! Remember this travel hacking FAQ – it is super important. Wait until your annual fee posts, and then cancel before the fee is due. You want to keep that card for 12 months, so your points aren’t clawed back (taken back). Also, check out if you will lose points if you cancel the card. If you will lose points, you can sometimes downgrade your card to a no-fee card to keep your points. Each year when your annual fee comes up, you have time to decide whether to keep, downgrade or cancel your card.
This can be a hard choice because there are so many great credit cards with great rewards. We try to keep you updated on the best bonuses, so sign up for our newsletter to keep updated. We also have a best offers page that we keep updated with all the best current credit card offers.
The Chase 5/24 rule is an unwritten rule from Chase Bank that says if you have opened five or more cards in the last 24 months, you won’t be approved for any more Chase cards until you go under 5/24 again. This doesn’t just apply to Chase-issued cards; ANY credit card you have opened from any company counts towards your 5/24 count. This includes any Amex credit cards, store credit cards, etc.
The exception to this is business cards. Those do not count toward your Chase 5/24 count. Chase issues some of the very best credit cards with great bonuses. Hence, we encourage people when starting out to get all the Chase cards they want and then branch out.
No, being an authorized user on a card also counts toward their Chase 5/24. They can still apply for the same card but will have one less Chase 5/24 spot until they get it taken off. Read more about authorized users here.
We highly recommend using Travel Freely. It is a free website and app that keeps track of your credit cards. It’ll keep you updated with your Chase 5/24 count, notify you when your annual fee deadlines are approaching, keep you updated on welcome offer deadlines, and more. It makes organization a breeze!
Yes and no. American Express credit cards have a once-in-a-lifetime rule, so they are usually a no. That being said, occasionally, people report getting an offer without that lifetime rule attached.
With most of the other cards, you can get it again after you’ve closed it and a certain amount of time has passed. Usually, you need to wait two years from when you last received a bonus on the card. With some cards, you need to wait 48 months from your last bonus before you get the card again. You can read more about application rules here.
Two great beginner cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture, or Venture X. These offer great rewards and are great choices for beginners. We much prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred because of the Chase 5/24 rule and because we prefer their transfer partners.
Yes, it is – even with a tiny side gig! You can apply as a sole proprietor with your social security number. We love business cards because they give us an even bigger pool of credit cards to choose from, and they don’t count toward our Chase 5/24 count. Read this post about business cards!
The best part is that we have been able to fly business class sometimes and stay in some amazing hotels! Travel hacking has opened up the world for us!
You’ll really earn the most points when you signup for a credit card that has a great welcome offer. You can also earn more points by using the right card for the right purchase so you can maximize your earning potential. Another idea is to use shopping portals.
We always recommend referring your spouse/partner to the cards you already have so you can get a referral bonus and another signup bonus. For more detail on all this and some more ideas, check out this post. Our favorite way to earn more points, though is to signup for more cards to keep getting those big welcome offers.
This is a totally personal decision. We try to get great value out of our points. If nights or flights are cheap, then we use cash. If they are expensive, we use points. At the end of the day, free is free, though, so we try not to get too hung up on it. We go into more detail on this in this post.
We have a Masterclass, How to Travel for Nearly Free, where you can learn all about this in greater detail!
Years ago, we began our travel hacking journey. We learned from complicated blogs, so that’s why we decided to start an easier-to-understand blog. If this grandma and Alex, a busy mom of four, and Jess, a busy mom too, can do it, you can too!
Jump in, the rewards are off the charts, and we have faith in you. We are here to help! Be sure and come back to our Travel Hacking FAQs when you have questions.
Affiliate Disclosure: Travel Hacking Mom uses affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you use our links when applying for a credit card at no extra cost to you. This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel Hacking Mom has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Thank you so much if you use our links!
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this site is not provided by credit card issuer. All opinions, reviews, and recommendations are expressed by the author, not the credit card issuer.
2 Comments on Travel Hacking FAQ’s
Hello: your website and blog are great! We travel a lot (family of 4) but have never used points because i find it intimidating! The biggest question for me is how does this work for a family? I.e. I understand my husband and i should reach get our own card, but for any travel we would need 4 tickets, not 2. I’m also worried that if we book separately we would be on different reservations so if there is a flight change, that could mess us up in terms of not being in the same flight or sitting together. Thanks, Janet
We have a lot of content regarding family travel. Alex travels frequently with her family of 6. It definitely works but takes more points and miles. We usually book our flights for a family together – Southwest is great for family travel. Check into getting the Companion Pass and then you just need 3 tickets.