The Transition From “You’re Doing Something Criminal” to “It’s Criminal I Wasn’t Upgraded”

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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview:   The Points of Life

Alexander writes The Points of Life to inspire readers and allow them to gain perspective from travel.

The Points Of Life - Interview With Alexander

Alexander Enjoying a Tropical Vacation Courtesy of Miles & Points

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I used to charge my MBA tuition on the prestigious Northwest Airlines Visa Signature card, the one that had a graphic of my favorite plane, the Boeing 747.  Because I went to an international business school, Thunderbird School of Global Management, I tried to cut down on the cost of attendance by putting those points to good use to travel to Dubai, Mexico, the Czech Republic and China (venues for academic exchanges).

I didn’t formally start collecting points until November of 2011 when I saw a fellow mile & point hobbyist, the Frugal Travel Guy, on Nightline.  Seeing how simple it was to earn points, I applied for an Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and took my inaugural points trip to the Bahamas the following spring.

From then on I was hooked, religiously following the +91 day credit card application strategy.

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

I started my blog as a marketing campaign for my book Everyone’s Advice Is Wrong . . . Including Mine.

The publisher said that I did not have enough likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, and blogging would be an effective tool for book promotion.  She was right, as I didn’t even have a dedicated Facebook page or Twitter account to begin with!

The Points Of Life - Interview With Alexander

Table Mountain Overlooking Cape Town, South Africa

As a serious writer (I say in jest), I was anti-blogging but decided to give it a shot.  While I am still a little off-put by the weight given to social media, I do enjoy sharing the adventures of my points travel stories.

Points play a critical role in my book, allowing the reader to gain perspective from travel, an eye-opening experience needed to break free from the cubicle.

The blog is special because it uses points as a springboard for travel, integrates lessons learned from such adventures, while hopefully inspiring others to do the same.

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

Apply for lots of cards!  Then after that strategically using each card to optimally gain the most amount of points.  Charge travel to 1 card, office supplies to the other etc., all the while showing love to all the major banks to keep them happy in the process.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

The 1,000,000 points adventure: I spent $275 in taxes to travel 50,000 miles in business class.  Before American Airlines got rid of the distanced based awards (unannounced I will add) I booked a round-the-world trip.

I was able to fly all the great airlines in a variety of configurations to some of the world’s most sought after destinations.  At the same time, I used points to stay at luxurious hotels.

The trip was 16 segments and 5 continents ranging from Mauritius to the Maldives, Cape Town to Colombo, Sydney to Saigon, and Doha to Dusseldorf.

I burned points at Park Hyatts, Conrads, the Ws and St. Regis hotels with little out of pocket.  Even the $275 in taxes was paid for using my Barclays Arrival card statement credit.

The Points Of Life - Interview With Alexander

Outside the Sydney Opera House – 1 of My Many Stops on My Around the World Trip

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

They think I’m nuts until I help them get their own points.  Then they’re calling me asking how to squeeze in an extra segment without invalidating their itinerary and now presumptuously complaining if the hotel does not recognize their “Gold status”.

It is funny to see the transition from “you’re doing something criminal” to “it’s criminal that I wasn’t upgraded.”

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

The usual cast of characters: Award Wallet and Excel are great but I’d say the best trick is my general OCD disposition for collecting points.  As I write in my book, “I check the balance of my points accounts 10 times a day, know all my frequent flier numbers by heart, and think it’s fun to speak only using airport codes.”

The Points Of Life - Interview With Alexander

Life Is Good!

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

Charging the services of an attorney for my friend who was accused then subsequently found not guilty of driving under the influence.

While I don’t condone criminal mischief of any kind, I was happy to hit the minimum spending requirement by paying the hefty legal bill.

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

Points are worthless tomorrow, burn them today.  I used to gaze in admiration at my multicolor Excel spreadsheet and plan imaginary trips around the world.  Then I was exposed to the point collector’s kryptonite – devaluation.

The Points Of Life - Interview With Alexander

Dining Underwater at the Conrad Maldives

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I am moving to the coldest capital in the world, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to practice international business law, and using points to get there.  That will be country #70 on my checklist.

One final rant, why AMEX why, are you limiting sign-up bonuses to once in a lifetime!  Guess I’ll have to enjoy this final opportunity to fly suite class on Singapore Airlines by transferring 94,000 AMEX Membership Reward miles to my Singapore Airlines Kris Flyer account.

The Points Of Life - Interview With Alexander

Spending Time With Friends & Family

Any parting words?

Yes, Everyone’s Advice Is Wrong . . . Including Mine.  My apologies for the shameless book plug yet again.

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

If you’d like to be considered for our interview series, please send me a note!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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11 responses to “The Transition From “You’re Doing Something Criminal” to “It’s Criminal I Wasn’t Upgraded”

  1. So I take it the book isn’t out yet? When does it come out and where can it be purchased? Price? I really enjoy these interviews.

  2. Great short read. That’s exactly how I started! Not that far along but I’m following that same path. Will be purchasing the book when it come out!

  3. As always, wonderful post and interview Daraius!
    Enjoyed reading them first thing in the morning!!

  4. He seems like a nice guy, etc., but there’s not a shred of new information in this entire post other than advertising yet another blog.

  5. Great that you even got a Barclays credit card ad to pop up on the bottom of this post! Jealous! Great blog and good work Alex, hope we see each other soon somewhere!

  6. Darius, thanks for another fun read! @Ron, I agree, but don’t you find some enjoyment just reading a good story?

  7. Great to see Alex here! He was my classmate at school!

  8. The book should be out in early July in hardcopy then later on for Kindle. I will post a link to Amazon for purchase.

    @Ron, yes I’m very affable lol. Hope you enjoy the site.

    @SRT. Ah too many schools to decipher your username.

    @Drosen777. Message me on Fbook, it’s easy to get the ads.

    @Matthew C. Rematch?

  9. Another good read but he seems a bit pompous, which is odd saying he graduated from Thunderbird — cmon now (the USN #2 ranking for international bschool is laughable). I am entering my 1st year at a USN T10 MBA program this fall and also hope to use the miles/points I’ve collected while working for Bain to help fund the weekend social gatherings, a study abroad semester, and short term international treks so I’m glad to see someone else utilize points that way. The books sounds like an interesting read of one’s personal story but the target shouldn’t be avid points junkies since I doubt there is little value add for them.

  10. Stephen- stop being a douche and enjoy life, the points that is.

  11. Love these stories! Love MMS, too. 🙂