Travel Hacking on a Budget?


Hey guys, I’ve been looking into travel hacking for at least a year now and I don’t quite fully understand the process. I’ve read several articles about this but I’m unsure as to who it’s best suited for.

I’m familiar with all the credit card rewards and sign up bonuses but meeting the requirements to get those points seems counter intuitive. $3000-$5000 spending within 3 months (sans rent/mortgage) seems outrageous :astonished: Especially when I read people nonchalantly mention they apply for 3-4 credit cards at a time with 3 month / $3k minimums - each. How dey do dat?!? Magic. (Again, unless it’s just a super large family, I don’t get spending $9,000-$12,000 in three months).

I’ve seen some people suggest getting the Amex Blue Bird and then using a super convoluted churning system with gift cards (transferring back and forth - which sometimes doesn’t work as rules change) to meet those requirements. I’ve also seen people suggest using a credit card to pay off larger tax bills. What else is there?

In summary: can anyone share creative examples of meeting minimum requirements?


It definitely depends on how much you can spend. My wife and I both got Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card one month apart. We will use the cards to pay 6K+ college tuition, room and board for one of our kids for the next semester. This allowed us to take advantage of the card’s signup bonus and get additional points for the usage. Later next year, after transferring the points to my account we will probably cancel her card.
If you have big payment(s) coming you can easily meet the requirements, assuming that you are churning one card at a time.
If you are close to the amount you need to spend you can always buy gift cards to fill the gaps.


Buy gift cards for places you are going to shop at anyway. If your auto and home ownership bills monthly, you can pay 6 months in advance rather than monthly billing.

Pay estimated income taxes or property taxes with the card, the signup bonus typically outweighs the percentage fee rather substantially.


We just started travel hacking seriously and did 12 cards in the last 6 months.

  • Most of them do not have a minimum spend but do ask for a transaction. (just a pack of gum)
  • We planned our Amex. Got the biggest one ($5000) in time for our wedding bill then did the ($1500) and ($500) ones after off regular spending. We always have an Amex on hand and always stop spending on them as soon as we reach the minimums.
  • Our scores have not gone down (it actually gone up a bit because of utilization)
  • So far we have one trip booked and still 3 more trip-worth of points :smile: really enjoying the hacking!


We just started a few months ago with Chase Sapphire Reserve. I would like to get serious about it make as much $$$ as possible. :slight_smile:


Here are a few ideas that don’t require you to enter the murky world of manufactured spending:

  1. Do you have childcare/daycare bills? We can pay ours with a card at no extra cost, so that is a big chunk of change going on a new card (and all those yummy points, yay).

  2. Offer to pay the bill for a shared expense on your card and accepts cash/cheques from everyone else (team lunch, lunch with friends, vacation with extended family).

  3. Pre-pay some expenses e.g. car insurance or utilities bills.


Travel is good when its under budget which can be done by only train bus other but not with flights and I am not saying that you should go only in own country but near by country with train also a good option