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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: Free Disney World Trip
Bob runs Free Disney World Trip to teach folks how they can pay for their airfare, hotel, and tickets to Walt Disney World using miles & points.
And he’s giving away three $50 Amazon gift cards.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
When I started my 1st job I traveled occasionally for work and signed-up for every frequent flyer program. I thought I was ahead of the game and working every angle. Once every few years I would sign-up for 1 credit card.
It was usually the Barclays NFL card to get a nice cash bonus for spending $1,000. A co-worker told me about the AMEX Bluebird card and your amazing website and I decided to get it and the AMEX Starwood card. I was hooked and started getting multiple cards every quarter. Now it is safe to say credit cards are my number 1 hobby.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Money, fame, and groupies. 😉
I have a family of 4. And like most families with kids, they really wanted to go to Walt Disney World. It is a very expensive place, so I thought it would be helpful to show people ways to either save some money and go for free or close to free. I try to give concrete examples and show the math for why it makes sense to sign-up for credit cards.
I will continue to focus on family trips as long as our Hawaii trip in the fall is successful. I also hope to highlight my other passion which is wine tasting and trips to wine country. I have been fortunate to visit Bordeaux, Tuscany, Napa, and Sonoma.
Finally, I was interested in social media and the interaction of it with blogs. It has been fascinating to see how Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have driven traffic and what works and doesn’t work.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Create a junk email address and sign-up for every email newsletter from every hotel and airline. Whenever you have a few minutes scan the emails. It depresses me to know how many miles I have missed out on by not signing-up for promotions from a company.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
That is a tough one. For the family experience it had to be Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, it was such a great experience that they already want to go back even though it was just a year ago. The good news is with the advice from Million Mile Secrets we already have enough miles banked for the trip.
We’re just waiting because we think going to Walt Disney World every year is creating unrealistic expectations. Of course, you could argue going to Hawaii First Class is even worse!
Personally, my favorite experience was Venice. I loved walking around the city and thought it was so different than every other city I had ever visited.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
That I am crazy. I feel like Morpheus from the Matrix when I first try to explain this hobby to someone. They give me a crazy look and almost always refuse to believe.
We seem to be getting fewer dinner invitations. Sadly it’s because the only thing I want to talk about is traveling with miles & points.
There are a few friends and family members who have taken your advice and started slowly by getting a new card every few months.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Excel. I love having everything on Excel and then using Numbers on my iPad. I created an Excel spreadsheet that is great for advanced users who want to get a card from every bank.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Dining programs. It takes discipline to remember to add every credit card to your dining program of choice. Especially if you are signing-up for 10 cards a quarter. However, I love getting that email telling me I’ve earned miles for dining at a restaurant I didn’t even know what a part of the program.
Another great way to get points is to make sure you email customer service if you had a bad experience. I’m not saying you should complain about everything all the time or you might actually lose your miles and status. However, if you do have a gripe, send a nice email and you might get some points in return.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I have over 1,000,000 miles banked and I still feel like a rookie! Credit card sign-up bonuses are still the best way to get miles. If you see an offer that you like, jump on it! I still regret not getting an American Express Platinum card for my spouse when there was a 100,000 point bonus.
This summer I was aggressive and got the Chase Ink Bold card and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard for 100,000 miles. Neither were planned, but I thought they were both a great deal so I just went for them.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
That in my 20s I probably spent a total of $10,000 on credit cards. I paid for everything with my debit card, which earned no points. Now I know that I conservatively left millions of points on the table, even if I just got a new card every 6 months.
Any parting words?
My suggestion is to use the miles and points as quickly as possible!
You never know what tomorrow can bring, probably devaluation, and even if it isn’t the optimal use of miles it is still a vacation.
Bob – 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!