While all of the previous tips are handy, probably the best thing you can to do save money is to shrewdly use reward credit cards. In fact, there's an entire community of people — travel hackers — who dedicate their time and energy to gaming the credit card system to earn free travel.
The first step in the travel-hacking process? Know which card is best. There are three main types, all of which can be beneficial depending on what you’re looking for:
*Co-branded cards are produced jointly by credit-card companies like Visa or Mastercard and major airlines, cruise lines or hotel chains.
If there are certain companies you’re loyal to, these are an excellent option, as you’ll accumulate points quickly. Plus, some airlines are part of alliances that will boost how much you can get from the card. For example, if you have a United credit card you can also use your rewards to book anything in theStar Alliance, including Air Canada, Avianca and Lufthansa.
*Transferable points credit cards like the Chase Sapphire card and American Express Gold card reward you with points that you can then use to book travel with the issuer through its own travel-rewards portal.
The advantage of these credit cards is that they are more flexible. Rather than just being locked into a certain airline and its alliance partners, for example, you can use those points to book a wide range of travel, including cruises, flights, tours, hotels and even rental cars.
*Fixed-value credit cards allow you to earn points, each of which has a cash value (usually around one penny). When you’re ready to go travel, you simply charge the travel purchase to your credit card and then redeem those points towards a statement credit for that travel.
This is the most flexible option of all because you can use your points towards whatever you want. Check out a handy round-up of the best fixed-price credit cards for travel here.
To make maximum use of these cards, we have a few additional tips...