“I was able to visit 3 locations: Seattle, Seoul and Hanoi with one Delta award ticket.”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where renowned mile and point gurus share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: Ucanflyfree2

Duc is an adventurer who likes to travel and loves to do it for free or little cost.  He also writes Ucanflyfree2 blog, so I was looking forward to our chat on Friday!

Ucanflyfree2 0 – Interview with Duc

Citadel of Ho Dynesty – Unesco World Heritage

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started collecting miles and points in May 2010.  I could remember exactly because my first credit card, the American Express Premier Gold Card, was due for annual fee a month ago.  I learned about miles and points first through slickdeals and then in no time I learned about Flyertalk and get hooked.

Why did you start your blog?  What’s special about it?

My friends keep asking me how I travel for free all the time and they want to do the same.  I tried to explain over the phone and emails; however it is too complicated for most people to follow.  Only writing in an effective way can show people that it is possible to travel for free with little work.

The special thing was that I took me almost a month to write the first post since I was debating what is good for an introduction

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

Credit Card sign-up bonus is the most lucrative thing for miles.  The most lucrative offer has been the 50k Amex reward points + 40k mistake points which both got converted to 135k Delta Skymiles.  Last year, I racked up about 500,000 miles but this year, all of the bonus offers have been down significantly.  I am so glad I discovered the frequent flyer community back in 2011.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

I redeemed 80,000 Skymiles to fly from Austin to Seattle (stop overnight) to Seoul then to Hanoi, and on the way back I stopped by Korea for three days.  I was able to visit 3 locations: Seattle, Seoul and Hanoi with one Delta award ticket.  The ticket could have been $1,500 therefore Skymiles did work for me after many calls to their booking agents.

Ucanflyfree2 0 – Interview with Duc

Gyeongbokgung Palace-Seoul

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

I have been flying my mom abroad and domestically for free with AA and Southwest Companion Pass.  She doesn’t really understand what I do but she is happy to fly for free.  I also give my friends free domestic round-trip whenever I can.  Now, I am so happy that my friends call and ask me for advice for traveling.

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

There are so many useful tools developed by the frequent flyer community.  The tools I use the most are: Awardwallet to store all of my accounts and Evreward for online shopping bonus.

American Airline website offers great savings on cars and hotels.  The site allows you to book cars and hotels with AA miles and lets you buy the miles at 1.1 cent per mile, a great deal.  This site is very useful when booking expensive hotels and cars reservation in big cities.

The local grocery chain in my neighborhood offered 20% off gift card a few times in the past.  I wish I knew about Plastic Jungle and TopCashBack to make money and earn thousands of miles.

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

Donation can earn miles or points.  It is a great way of meeting spending requirement and doing good things for the world.

What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

I wasn’t aware of the Chase Sapphire Preferred bump from 50k to 100k Ultimate Points.  It could have been a nice extra 50k points.

I heard some people racked up millions of miles via Skymall Bonus shopping and the US Airways Grand Slam which I missed out on both.  However this year, I will try to take advantage of the Grand Slam to the highest level.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I started a nonprofit organization similar to Kiva’s model, micro-donation to support disadvantaged children.  The idea was very breakthrough and got a lot of supports from local corporations.  I had many wonderful volunteers who all came from high-school and colleges.  The best things were that we were able to give back to our own community.

Any parting words?

Ucanflyfree2 0 – Interview with Duc

Bryce Canyon Utah

Playing “points and miles” game opens my eyes to opportunities.  When you understand the system enough, you can see lucrative tricks and opportunities everywhere.  So the key is to learn as much as you can and be ready for great offers.

Duc – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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19 responses to ““I was able to visit 3 locations: Seattle, Seoul and Hanoi with one Delta award ticket.”

  1. What’s the trick for buying AA miles for 1.1 cents each? That would be an awesome deal.

  2. Pingback: Giveaway: 3,000 Ultimate Chase Points « U Can Fly Free 2

  3. Hey… it’s good to hear that a relative newcomer to this game has had such a great experience. I first signed up for the BA visa and the Citi card AAdvantage about 4 years ago. I figured a few things out without ever running across the blogs. I have been to Europe with my entire family, been to see a friend I haven’t seen in 20 years, met relatives in two cities that I never would have gotten to meet, and, now, have two trips planned with friends that can’t afford to travel AND sending a grandchild and her new fiance home to meet everybody. I feel like the ticket-Santa Claus! All this travel was booked BEFORE I stumbled across the blogs about a month ago– so I anticipate lots more big travel in my world now that you folks have showed me how to crack the code! THank you BLOGGERS!

  4. Frequent flyer,
    Here is my post about buying AA for 1.1 cent
    You don’t really get the miles however you can get great deals for rental and hotel staying

  5. @Duc – What is your local grocery chain that had gift cards for 20% off?

  6. Kevin
    HEB seems to run 20% discount on gift card at least 3 times a year
    Next time if they do that, I will buy a bunch and sell them on Plastic Jungle with the combination of Top Cash Back

  7. @Ucanflyfree2, thanks for the link to your post. This looks like a great trick for getting cheap car rentals, but I don’t see how this is equivalent to buying AA miles. There’s no way to end up with more AA miles than you started with, is there?

  8. Great to hear from Duc.. It would really help the newbies like me in the coming future.
    Thanks MillionMilesSecret for arranging this interview…

  9. free stopovers (such as aa points when leaving north america) on first leg or RETURN TRIP meaning a free one way to hawaii, etc & open jaws is the next frontier for people like me!

    I have done a grat job of accuulating miles but now I see the second part of the equation is knowing how to use them- especially for free unlimited day stopovers when traveling to different continents.

  10. @Ucanflyfree2 @FrequentMiler I think am under the same confusion…how is this purchasing miles at 1.1 cents? Oh what a joyous day it would be if you COULD do the PC trick with AA. Oh my! Alas I am afraid it will never be so.

  11. @FrequentMiler and @W Brian Duncan
    You are right, it was buying the AA miles to redeem for the mile and cash option on AA website, not really buying AA miles for your account.
    There are a few ideas around it
    – If you use the mile and cash option, what would happen when you cancel the reservation. They say a full refund however they don’t specify a refund of cash or cash and miles. If someone can try it, then I would really appreciate

    Their term says: Car rentals reservations are refundable if the request to cancel is made 5 or more days prior to your travel start date and you are not traveling between December 17 and January 3. Cancellation under these circumstances will be allowed a full refund for a $150 USD fee payable by credit card.

  12. The last interviewee never missed a beat by throwing in our face credit card affiliate links the very NEXT post after appearing here. I wonder how long this one will do to do the same? 🙂

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  14. @gapadop, I don’t have any affiliate links and not planning to throw links at you guys
    I am writing to learn and to share so don’t worry about it.

  15. What was the “+40K amex mistake points” about?

  16. My wife and I are trying to plan a trip to Argentina from the US this November. I currently have around 110,000 SPG points and 205,000 AA miles. Which would be a better usage of miles…transfer SPG points to LAN for the 1:2 exchange and book a LAN flight, or just use AA miles?

  17. Amex was offering a 50k bonus after $500 spend for the Premier Gold Card back in May 2011
    A month after they posted the 50k bonus, Amex gave everyone 40k extra. I think it was a technical glitch however I transferred all of them to Delta skymiles and I never heard of Amex taking the miles back
    All in all, we all got 90 Amex points after $500 spend

  18. I’m learning that there are so many deals out there if you look (my sister was the inspiration) and now I’m searching to take my two kids with me to travel as much as possible.