“For most people, their financial life is a major point of stress…”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: RichmondSavers

Brad & Laura co-founded RichmondSavers to share information on how to become more financially secure & travel the world for free.

RichmondSavers - Interview With Brad

Relaxing by the Pool bar on our Hawaiian Honeymoon

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I first started back in 2011 when the British Airways Visa had a 100,000 Avios bonus.  I read J.D. Roth describing the deal on Get Rich Slowly and since he’s someone I have great respect for, I decided it was well worth looking into.

My oldest daughter was only two then, so our travel plans had slowed dramatically, but I figured it was still a great time to learn everything I could and to start amassing points.  That led me to sites like Million Miles Secrets, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

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

I started my website, Richmond Savers, earlier in 2013; my wife and I are both CPAs and we have a great love for common-sense personal finance and saving money and we envisioned our site as “financial advice for the rest of us.”

For most people, their financial life is a major point of stress; we try to provide simple and easy to follow advice to make things more efficient and to cut through all the noise.  A Lifetime of Financial Advice in your Wallet and How Much Does your Car Payment Really Cost You? are two examples of articles that typify our approach.

Since we’re so interested in travel rewards, it is definitely a focal point of our site; while we’ll never know as much as Daraius, we try to provide a service more for the novice just starting to learn about this entire concept.  We offer a free 1-on-1 travel rewards coaching service geared towards this novice starting from planning their trip, to opening cards to eventually booking the free travel.

RichmondSavers - Interview With Brad

Malahide Castle Outside Dublin

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

No secret here: Open targeted credit cards with massive bonuses!  If you have good credit and pay your bills in full every single month then you really need to jump into this.  Figure out how much you can put on your credit card each month and if you can meet the minimum spending requirements and then start opening up cards.

There is simply no reason you can’t constantly be working towards a huge bonus!  This can seriously be like getting a 10% to 30% discount on every single dollar you spend on your credit card (which should be every single dollar you spend in life that can go on a credit card).

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Hard to decide between these two:

  • Honeymoon in Maui and Kauai, Hawaii.  Laura and I had a wonderful time exploring these two magical islands and it’s a place we dream of living someday.  It’s a tropical paradise and yet it is America, with all the comforts of home.  We enjoyed that combination greatly.
  • Study abroad in Hamamatsu, Japan.  I spent a summer in Japan learning the language, living with a host family and exploring the country.  The Japanese are the kindest, most generous people I’ve had a chance to meet and this was a life-changing experience.
RichmondSavers - Interview with Brad

The Majestic Na Pali Coast of Kauai

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

At first they were a bit skeptical, but they know I would never involve myself with something sketchy financially, so they came around rather quickly!  There’s so much disinformation out there about credit cards and credit ratings that people in general really need to be reassured constantly that this is okay.

Now that they understand, I’m always helping family and friends plan their next free trips.

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

Honestly, I wish I had some secret trick, but for me the most important thing is just reading sites like Million Miles Secrets each and every day to learn new things and to stay up on all the latest news.

I particularly like the use of British Airways Avios on short-haul domestic flights and the free one-way on United when tacked on to a flight to Europe.

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

I can’t really say I’ve earned miles/points in any unexpected ways really; just regular spending and bonuses from opening up new cards.

I have been particularly impressed with American Express lately with Small Business Saturday and promotions like $25 off at Amazon.  While these aren’t technically miles-earning situations, just in the past few days we’ve earned $350 of free statement credits on money we would have spent otherwise thanks to having 10 Amex cards from our travel rewards obsession.

RichmondSavers - Interview with Brad

Brugge: Our Favorite European City

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

I was very hesitant at the beginning, so I took a break after opening that first British Airways Visa and went back to my old credit card.  I wish I knew to just keep moving on to another card the minute I finished up with the bonus; I’d definitely be sitting on many more points if I had done that.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

People would probably be surprised to learn that since we have two young daughters we haven’t had much opportunity to actually travel significantly over the past handful of years.

We certainly plan to rectify that in the coming years, and we’ve been earning the miles & points to go anywhere we want, but we haven’t done much actual travel other than to Long Island to visit family and to Ogunquit, Maine for a summer trip.

RichmondSavers - Interview with Brad

Picturesque windmill in Belgium

Any parting words?

This entire concept is safe; it isn’t a scam or ‘too good to be true.’  It’s just true.  You can earn thousands of dollars of free travel every single year if you follow sites like Million Mile Secrets, so why not start today?

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

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16 responses to ““For most people, their financial life is a major point of stress…”

  1. The Richmond Savers website may have some value, but the Hellobar at the top is so mobile unfriendly. You may benefit by making it smaller, it literally takes up half the screen in my iPhone and it doesn’t go away.

  2. Laura and I wanted to sincerely thank Daraius for including us in this interview series! We’re huge fans of the site, and this Friday interview series, so it was a lot of fun to be included…

    @Bender: Thanks for the suggestion! I honestly didn’t realize that was the case, so I deactivated the Hello Bar. Hopefully you have time to navigate back to the site to look around.

  3. Interesting that you made a point of people thinking credit card churning and bonuses are either illegal or immoral. It took me a little while to get over that hump myself and I have tried to convince others of the common sense of it all……….with varying degrees of success.

    My best metaphor is only buying something that is on sale at a particular grocery store. Do you feel immoral that you didn’t buy an extra hundred dollars worth of full price groceries to make up to the store for buying their sale item? Of course not.

    Well, I do try.

  4. Just want to give Brad a shout out here. I’ve been chatting with him for a little while now and I find his advice to be spot on.

    I too found some of these hacks a little too good to be true. Turns out though that they’re not. My family of 4 is going to Hawaii for the second time courtesy of the Avios points that Brad discusses. Brad also helped us secure free hotel stays with other cards.

  5. Hello!

    I need a little advice:

    I’m new to this “hobby”. I have a Chase Sapphire preferred and the United Mileage Plus Explorer. I have received the bonuses from each. I already had the Chase Freedom Card. The 1st 2 cards are only 2 months old.

    I really like United but also like Jet Blue. Love Ultimate Rewards. But what is the next card to look at? I want to travel to Europe. I was targeted for the Amex Premier Rewards Card for 50K. I like flexibility.

  6. @Anne

    It’s certainly not illegal, but someone has to subsidize all of the free travel, and it’s primarily poorer people with credit card balances or infrequent fliers who don’t redeem miles

  7. Seriously Cogswell? We are hurting “poorer people” and people foolish enough to carry balances or who don’t redeem their miles? This is such a bizarre statement there isn’t even a response to it. Do you have a clue what a “loss leader” is in a store? Are people who take advantage of loss leaders also injuring the poor? What the heck are you doing reading this blog?

  8. @Anne: Please no bullying! It’s not even your blog.

  9. I agree with Cogswell. I certainly play these games, but there is if nothing else a certain sadness knowing that my gains are available because of the loss of others. And only a foolish person would make the statement that people that carry balances are “foolish”… there is obviously a far more complicated explanation for why somebody gets down into that rabbit hole.

    All of these deals are simply the rich getting richer, while the poor get poorer.

  10. Do not view flights/hotel rooms booked with points as “free”. Instead, think of each miles/points currency as having a certain value (for example, SPG Starpoints are worth about 2.2 cents each – you can get this data from various blogs). I then decide whether to use dollars or points based on the “exchange rate”. For example, a standard room in a Category 4 SPG hotel always costs 10,000 points, which are worth about $220. But, depending on demand, the room may cost less than $100 in cash off-peak, and $500 or more in cash when demand is heavy. I always spend the cash for the $100 room, and use the points for the same room when it costs $500.

  11. Credit card bonuses are not some zero-sum game where the well-to-do get free travel and thus the poor have to pay more. While it is true that those with good credit and higher incomes (i.e. the so-called rich in this example) are able to get approved and those with low credit scores and/or lower incomes can not (the “poor” here), the “rich” person’s benefit does not change the poor person’s situation financially.

    Since people here are saying this is not the case, please provide any evidence that this is so.

  12. @Anne

    The banks/hotels/airlines partner with these bloggers to keep pushing these offers. How do you think the banks/hotels/airlines make money off of the thousands of people who are following these blogs and who are supposedly “travelling the world for free”? Why would the banks/hotels/airlines keep partnering with the bloggers if it was a constant losing deal for them? What’s the end game here?

    When you look around the world, why do you think chain hotels cost so much more than non-chains? They obviously have to subsidize their rewards programs and marketing so they have higher prices – which ironically makes it seem like you are getting an *even better* deal when you get a free night, ex. “I stayed at Hotel Sacre Bleu in Paris which was listed at EUR600/night!!!!”

  13. Max,
    I don’t consider it bullying to ask someone why they are reading a blog about getting free miles and points when they think it is basically an immoral thing to do.

    Sorry that you see it that way.

  14. Cogswell, just a few things.

    1. It is a mistake to think that banks are happy when good credit card offers make it to the public. For most parts, they are not. Kudos to Daraius and other bloggers who always tell when a better bonus is available even when it’s not the part of an affiliate link. You might be surprised to learn that banks have been known to penalize bloggers for that.

    2. Banks give us these benefits in the US for two reasons: 1) stiff competition and 2) they are playing a number game. They know that enough people will end up carrying debt and paying their higher than usual APR. As a responsible adult, you must make your own educated choices about your credit.

    3. Your statement that chain hotels cost more than independent hotels is absolutely false. First there is a very limited number of international hotel chains that are offering an attractive credit card bonus: I personally know of 6. Second, just go to Travelocity or Hotels.com and you will find hundreds of hotels all over the world that cost more than Hiltons, Mattiotts and what’s not in their respective categories.

  15. Hi Brad,

    I am trying to get as much miles and points for my family of 6 travel to Paris this summer, learn a little about applying for credit card, right now me and my husband just sign up for AA Citi Card and Chase Saphire (4 totals). What should we go from here, when and how to start more points through paying for home mortagage, utility to earn points. I do need to be careful with only 1 1/2 income for a family of 6 with 3
    kids in college, it tuft and we need to be very careful. We do pay all our credit card in full. Thanks.

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