“My wife rolls her eyes when I talk about it, but recently she’s been more receptive because she reaps the benefits.”

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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:  Rom’s Deals

Rom writes Rom’s Deals where he shares his secrets on becoming a savvy traveler and spender, so I was looking forward to our Friday chat!

Rom’s Deals – Interview with Rom

Waimea Canyon(Kauai) with my wife on our honeymoon.

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I’ve been collecting miles only since the summer of 2011.  My wife and I were planning for our wedding last year and I was in charge of the honeymoon and paying for the wedding.  I looked for ways to save on our honeymoon and found some travel blogs and Flyertalk.

I read how people were going on their honeymoons for close to no costs and I was interested.  Our wedding reception took credit card payments in multiple payments so I could easily meet spending requirements for 5 to 6 credit cards.  We decided on going to Kauai, and I started collecting points and miles to go there.

After spending only 50,000 British Airways Avios points and a couple Starwood and Hyatt points on hotels, I was hooked!

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

I started my blog because I wanted to share with people unique ways to earn points and share about unique ways to spend less.  I wanted to share with people my actual experience of applying for credit cards, spending, and traveling.  I want to help people come up with innovative ways to earn thousands of points.

I also wanted to share tips on how to take advantage of deals and various tricks to make travel cheaper such as traveling with one backpack, hand washing clothes, taking public transportation, eating at supermarkets, renting apartments.

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

The obvious answer is credit cards.  With certain banks, you can keep applying for cards every 91 days to be conservative.  Once you meet the maximum amount of cards you can have, (for me it was 4) wait until your annual fee is up and apply for a new card.  Then call the reconsideration line and ask to replace your old card with your new card.

I have successfully applied for 18 credit cards in a little over a year.  Apply for 3 to 4 cards a day to receive only one hard inquiry.

Take advantage of the 5x bonuses from Chase to rack up points very quickly.  Use the Chase Ink Plus or Bold to pay for your cable bill and phone bill monthly, which alone pays for your annual fee.  Also, if you can find Vanilla Reload cards, you can load your Bluebird card and pay your credit card bills with it.  Also, max out your Chase Freedom 5x bonuses.

For example, this quarter you can get 5% back from Bestbuy and Kohl’s.  You can buy Amazon Kindle gift cards at Bestbuy to easily spend money on Amazon.  You can also earn 15x points right now from Kohl’s because you get 10X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall and 5X from Chase Freedom.  Finding new ways to max out 5X bonuses is one of my big focuses.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Rom’s Deals – Interview with Rom

Rom in Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Since I’ve only been collecting points and miles for a little over a year, I’ve taken a honeymoon trip to Kauai and Europe mostly with points.  Both travel experiences were memorable, but Italy definitely has to be the most memorable.  I booked an Airberlin Business Class flight from Los Angeles to Rome and Paris to Los Angeles.

We followed Rick Steve’s guide to Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Venice.  Cinque Terre has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

We stayed in Cornigilia at a B&B overlooking the ocean for 75 Euros!  I woke up at 7am one day to go hiking along the coast of Cinque Terre and it was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.  We also stayed 3 nights at the Park Hyatt Vendome and had their $75 breakfast buffet for free with Hyatt Diamond Status.

Rom’s Deals – Interview with Rom

Hyatt Room Service Breakfast in our Suite

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

My wife rolls her eyes when I talk about it, but recently she’s been more receptive because she reaps the benefits.  After impressing her with the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris, she has little to complain about.

My family constantly travels to China and Taiwan for business and leisure.  They find my hobby very useful because I book trips for them or give them advice how to collect miles.  I recently booked a complicated trip for 4 people to visit both Japan and Taiwan for 90,000 US Airways miles each.

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

Rom’s Deals – Interview with Rom

In Venice, view from Rialto Bridge

I use both Mint and Awardwallet to track my finances and miles.  With Mint, I can track my spending on my 20+ credit cards.  I also use Tripit to keep track of my travel itinerary and confirmation numbers.  Finally, I keep an excel spreadsheet of all my credit card showing application dates so I can know when to sign up for my credit cards.

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

I once bought a jar of jam for about 8 bucks, which yielded 1,500 UA points.  I also loaded up my AMEX prepaid card with lots of Vanilla reloads and made periodic payments to my wedding reception venue.  I also bought a few XBOXs and PS3s during black Friday and resold them for a small profit, but that helped meet my minimum spend.

I’ve also bought a few concert tickets for small profits and meeting minimum spend.

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

I wish that I would have applied for my credit cards in a more orderly fashion.  I was not aware of the two or three browser trick in the beginning.  Therefore, I received many hard inquiries at the start of this hobby.  Now I recommend applying for multiple credit cards on the same day every 91 days or more.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Even though I travel in business class, I still only bring a backpack to travel.  Sometimes people give my wife and I weird looks because I look like a low budget backpacker in a premium cabin.  I love the mobility of backpacking because I can save even more money by taking public transportation and travel more efficiently to many cities.

I love snowboarding, backpacking, and the outdoors.  I love combining multiple hobbies together, such as using points for a snowboarding trip.  I am also a CPA who contemplated on starting a CPA business, but points and miles have taken over my interests.

Any parting words?

Rom’s Deals – Interview with Rom

Hike in Cinque Terre

Take advantage of every deal out there and travel more.  Don’t wait for retirement to start traveling, do it now with points and miles!  I’ve collected

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

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34 responses to ““My wife rolls her eyes when I talk about it, but recently she’s been more receptive because she reaps the benefits.”

  1. ” Apply for 3 to 4 cards a day to receive only one hard inquiry.”
    Don’t think so.
    “..load your Bluebird card and pay your credit card bills with it”
    Not a good idea. Pay your mortgage, property taxes, electric bill, etc, things you couldn’t otherwise pay with a credit card.
    Another newbie gotten bitten by the freebie bug dishing out advice.
    “..contemplated on starting a CPA business, but points and miles have taken over my interests”
    If you want income, stick with the CPA idea.
    I run an internet business, have a full time job as well and take care of a family of 4. And have done some great things with miles and points. I understand your connection to credit cards but be wise in your words young man. Your enthusiasm is admirable, be wary of free advice.

  2. To KentC – It works for him!

  3. @kent- he is absolutely right. If you apply for 3-4 cards from same bank on same day it is only 1 inquiry. this is true with amex even if you mix both business and personal apps and with chase so long as they are all business or all personal. He is also absolutely right about blue bird for mortgage etc etc. Whether you want to use bluebird to pay credit card bills that included purchases you loaded onto the bluebird is a matter of discretion but certainly not bad advice esp if done in moderation (as he seems to be doing)

  4. That’s not Waimea Canyon, it’s the Kalalau Valley.

  5. >>>>>>>>>”contemplated on starting a CPA business, but points and miles have taken over my interests”

    Ladies & gentlemen, placing your bets now on when aff cc links appear here:-)

    What is it with them CPA types getting into this hobby? 🙂 Take the advice of Kent C. Stick with CPA if you want long lasting career prosperity, this miles/point stuff could be good if u add aff cc links but do not expect to last long. You are out of the CPA world for a few years and u can pretty much forget about it. Kid, you are coming in way late in the game, the best days of this hobby is behind us!

    MMS: I thought these interviews were with “renowned mile and point gurus”? Come on! This kid only started last year!!! By the way, I like his blog and have been reading it, he has talent. I still think the questions are extremely boring. After Points Envy’s interview I do not think I can top it…unless the questions are a little more…risque;-)

  6. That is most certainly not the view from the Rialto. That is the view towards Santa Maria Della Salute and the Bacino di San Marco, from the Ponte dell’Accademia.

  7. Rock on Haters!

  8. I really wish all you Senior citizens & self-righteous bullies would stop posting the negative ish! I’m sure you tell your kids & grandkids how to behave yet you make it a fulltime job to be ‘A Blog commenting A*hole. Get a life! By the way Darius…I really enjoy these Friday interviews. Keep em’ comin’!

  9. I like roms deals too he reminds me of myself. Anyway, 18 cards in less than two years seems like a lot. I am curious as to how long your credit history is to support such a large list of new accounts? Also, even though it sounds harsh kent makes great points, I started this hobby in april earned a ton of points. I have noticed that this hobby can be an obsession ,18 cards seems a bit much to apply for just starting out. Take that with a grain of salt, I’m 29 & a newbie. Anyway keep up the good work and keep learning and sharing!

  10. Ace, heytonia
    You guys seem pretty quick to pull that card. No one has said anything negative! You seem as bad as the people you think you are condemning. There has been a lo t of negativity lately, but dont be so quick to call it out.

  11. Thanks for the feedback everyone!
    @Kent – I’m just blogging on my actual experiences, I ask readers to use their own discretion and judgment. Ymmv.
    @travelbloggerbuzz – I have a stable full time job in the accounting field. I’m not saying I’m giving up on being a CPA, but I’m just blogging for fun as a hobby now.
    @Tim – I’ve had a decent credit history my parents added me as an authorized user when I was young. I’m 25 now FYI.

  12. Tim…follow your own advice.

  13. Sometimes the comments are more entertaining than the post.
    I enjoy the haters and defenders going at each other!
    I do agree that this blogger’s accuracy can improve and that he is not sharing anything new.
    But I do feel happy to read his success stories.

  14. Easy, easy. No need for the negativity. He played the game, cashed in some points. Good for him, and good to see. Pretty good for a 25 year old. He’s not a girl, or a rock star. Seems like a normal guy. Maybe it’s the reason for the negs?

  15. dont turn this into a Flyertalk Hilters camp, everything is micro analysed and criticized with(its hard to come up with an adjective that describe the facial expression as they feverishly throwing punch keys). its a fun forum and something to learn regardless of your age or experience. if you hate, dont participate.

  16. sorry to break it to ya, that is not the view from the Rialto Bridge.

  17. @anonymous – Sorry I might have gotten my pictures mixed up, I think the night picture I took was the one on Rialto Bridge! I must be getting old… 🙂

  18. I do backpack within the US, but not outside. Some day I will have Asian body hair and head hair distribution and texture as science advances. Will reduce grooming requirements.

  19. @Daraius: Please keep these interviews coming! I like how you generously give exposure to new, up-and-coming miles bloggers. Not many other big bloggers do that. I also discover new bloggers to follow through you. The more diverse voices in the blogosphere, the better.

    @Rom: I love how you keep the backpacker spirit while traveling business class! Guess that makes you more of a ? Congrats on making so much progress in such a short time.

    Using miles to earn a free honeymoon is inspiring. Considering all the expenses involved in a wedding and furnishing a new home, those are good opportunities to hoard points.

  20. Ah, sorry for the link fail. I meant to link to a Wikipedia entry for “flashpacker.” As in, “Guess that makes you more of a flashpacker?”

  21. @Marcus – Yes, I am somewhat a flashpacker. I probably graduated from backpacker to flashpacker after graduating college and finding a full-time job :). I travel backpack style, but still stay at nice places (because of the wife) of course.

  22. @rom – Hey man, I liked your post. I’m younger too, only 23, and I see a lot of older people criticizing your decisions. (Unless Kent is 24 years old and supporting a family of 4 :x). Don’t get stuck working a job you hate. Do what makes you happy. I’m in the military right now and do this on the side. It’s working for me, but I certainly don’t plan on staying in the military forever. Maybe that’s inexperience talking, but I feel like I’ve matured quite a bit since enlisting. Some other people on here went a different route than you, and it worked for them, so they believe that others can only succeed if they follow a similar path. Do what makes you happy. Stay cautious and you won’t go wrong!

  23. Its funny, since I started doing this 2 months ago all my friends/co workers also roll their eyes when I talk about it.

  24. LOL@Robert!!!

  25. Jorgen Habermas

    OMG. I just love these posts of yours Darius. You’re witty and fun and everything you post is always refreshing and, like I already mentioned, so fun! One day, I’d like to have a blog like yours, but for now I’ll just look on in envy.

    KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK, CAPTAIN!

  26. Ace & heytonia, feel free to come & insult me in my own blog, I love you guys. I still have no idea what I said that deserves your insults to me but I sure appreciate them;-)

    Rom, carry on kid, don’t become like Robert, lol

    I LOVED Tim’s comment: “I have noticed that this hobby can be an obsession” – More powerfully addictive than $5 crack in a Detroit back alley, guaranteed!

  27. I think you misunderstood me. I was supporting you from the people who come on here to hate. I will visit your blog…if you apologize.

  28. Great info for newbies and couples who are wedding planning. Great advice about using mint. Great commnts all around. Very entertaining on a Saturday morning.

  29. LOL posts.

  30. I also like travelling with a backpack. It definitely elicits strange looks in airport lounges and fancy hotels.

  31. I like how you were in charge of “planning for honeymoon AND paying for the wedding.” Do work son!

  32. @MMS “renowned mile and point gurus share their insights”. You should look up “renowned” and “gurus” in the dictionzry. Either you’re taking a piss or you have run out of gurus to interview.

  33. Checked out Rom’s site. Except for his trip reports, everything on Roms was really old news, not a single original idea.

    I’m starting to think of making my own blog. I’ll post my trip reports every now and then. The rest of my posts will be straight from Slickdeals, FatWallet, and Flyertalk……

    I’m not hating on Rom. Its good to be entrepreneurial and blog and whatnot. Everyone needs a hobby. But the next time I read a blog post about the two-click f**ing trick…lol I’m not actually that mad. Rom, since you know about setting up trips and itineraries, why don’t you focus more on that; maybe give some original insight into how to get more value out of redemptions, etc. from your own experiences. Originality is the way to win respect in this community.

  34. @The dude – thanks for the feedback! I will definitely post more about trip planning.