“I Was Buying and Selling Dell Computers on eBay to Pay for College”

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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:   Life, Tailored

Andrew writes Life, Tailored to show folks everything they do in life should be the best it possibly can be and they can do it all for less.

Life Tailored - Interview With Andrew

Andrew Living Life, Tailored

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

January 2014.

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

Our blog is about being able to live a luxurious lifestyle for less.  We teach you how to maximize coupons, referrals, and credit card points to experience the best in life.  Through referral programs, I’ve gotten more than $10,000 in clothes and I wanted to teach every how they can do this too.

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

Learn how to accumulate points by buying items online and not having to go to Walmart every day.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Celebrating our wedding at Ani Villas and being able to use Barclaycard Arrival miles to pay for a large portion of it.

Life Tailored - Interview With Andrew

Ani Villas in Anguilla

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

I’m insane, and wasting my time, that is, until they saw the pictures from our wedding.

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

Google spreadsheets.  Keep excellent records.

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

During 1 of my experiments with the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, I bought Neiman Marcus gift cards at 8X points.  My plan was to resell them back to Giftcards.com or another portal, but the exchange rate dropped and it wasn’t worth me selling at a 15% loss.  So I put the gift cards aside in a drawer, and planned to wait until rates went up.

Well, my wife was looking for her checkbook 1 day and found the gift cards.  She wanted to use them to buy clothes, since there’s a 100% return rate on using the gift cards for actually buying clothes.  So I bought the gift cards at 8X points, when I went back in to buy the clothes through the shopping portal, I got another 8X points.  I ended up buying my wife clothes, and earning 16X points at the same time.

Fortunately, if we have to return some of the clothes, they do get credited back to my credit card, so I can claim I am somewhat earning miles at a reduced rate.

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

My biggest regret is I didn’t start earning lots miles back when I was in college.  At that time, I was buying and selling Dell computers on eBay to pay for college.  If I had gotten in on the US Mint game, I would have Platinum status on pretty much every airline and I would basically be on retirement mode :).

So back to reality, since I didn’t get in on the US Mint game, and only started collecting miles 8 months ago, it’s been a dramatic learning curve.  I live in New York City, where there are no Walmarts, so I could never get into the traditional the Bluebird game.

When I first started, I considered driving out to New Jersey and the surrounding areas just to collect miles at Walmart, but was quickly dissuaded by the fact that I don’t have a car, and dread the idea of going from New York to New Jersey (no offense) just for the purpose of miles.  When I factored in the cost of my time, I was better off just buying miles at 2 cents each.

So with that thought out of the way, I had to focus on ways to buy and sell gift cards and products from home.  I’ve been buying gift cards from Staples for quite awhile and have been really happy with the 2X points from the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, and the 5X points from the Chase Ink cards.

At 7X points for every $100, if I buy $50,000 worth of gift cards, I’ve got 350,000 ($50,000 in gift cards x 7X points) Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I can transfer to United Airlines, my airline of choice.

The most difficult part about going through $50,000 in gift cards is having patience with the money sitting in remote accounts.  Using online payment services, you’re restricted to withdrawing $10,000 per month, so for me, I wish I would have churned $10,000 per month instead of trying to load up all my spending in 1 month.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Until this year, I had never flown outside North America.

Any parting words?

At the beginning of this year I had never flown First Class because I couldn’t afford it.  Eight months in, and my wife and I have flown First Class 6 times.

Life Tailored - Interview With Andrew

Singapore Airlines First Class Suites

Andrew – 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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14 responses to ““I Was Buying and Selling Dell Computers on eBay to Pay for College”

  1. This was a nice entry in the series, but it brought a question to mind: can you still get portal bonuses on gift card purchases through Staples.com? I thought that got shut down (and Chase claims they don’t pay out on gift cards in their Ts&Cs), but it would be very interesting if they’re still paying out anyway.

  2. I was lucky to get UR points on my first Staples order for a couple of GC back in May but nothing ever since. Still get the Chase points but no UR.

  3. I’m with Jason and Linda on this one, you don’t get the 2X or whatever the bonus shows for the Staples portal anymore on gift cards, you only get the 5X bonus for the Office-Store category.

  4. Also not mentioned is the ~$1750 in fees he would rack up buying $50,000 in gift cards ($6.95 per $200). There is also the cost of time and money driving to Walmart or wherever to liquidate the cards. I also don’t know what “online payment services” he’s speaking of.

    There’s no such thing as free points. Whenever someone says I made x points by buying gift cards, your first questions should be how much were the fees and how much time did you spend doing it. For me, Serve reloads are pretty much the closest thing to “free” points.

  5. Is anybody getting the UR portal bonuses buying GC? I thought that got shut down a while back…

  6. Daraius, this is a terrible interview for newbies. “GO OUT AND SPEND 50K in a month to earn 350,000 miles”. This is incredibly cryptic and misleading, no mention of fees/risks, etc. The interview also has stale information about promotions that are no longer functional. Someone might actually try this and get burned. This is embarassing and you should consider taking this one down.

  7. -Adam

    Not every interview is catered to “newbies”. Daraius can’t do everything for you; do your own independent research in addition to reading blogs. He didn’t tell you to spend $50,000 just to earn flyer miles. If you read the information given on the links throughout the article it describes the old/no longer available promotions. This is not embarassing and/or cryptic, however, it is informational/interesting.

    Thanks for the post Daraius, the interview series is a great add to the site.

  8. I HATE IT when Dararius follows me to the store, puts a gun to my head, and makes me spend thousands on giftcards that I had no intention of buying…

    Of course I’m not going to thank him at all for the numerous free trips I’ve earned because that was my hard work reading the blog…

    Anyway, I’m off to other blogging sites to make whiny, catty, and trollish remarks.

  9. Daraius is very informative (too informative in some instances) and I do think he is very helpful to the miles/points community. I never meant to troll. I think that this interview is crytpic, and I don’t find it very informational. Maybe I was a bit harsh in my previous comment, but I think the content of this interview is poor at best and I don’t even mean to offend the interviewee. It could just be that the format of the interviews is stale and could use an upgrade. Perhaps a new set of questions?

  10. Cool! Definitely more aggressive than me, but I just travel for the cultural experiences. I think it’s hilarious that I know lots of rich people who don’t fly this way, but I know how. #inspirational. 🙂

  11. “Celebrating our wedding at Ani Villas and being able to use Barclaycard Arrival miles to pay for a large portion of it.” This place is $8571 per night for min of 5 nights => >$42000.
    A large portion of this would be at least $21k paid with Barclay arrival miles (2.1M points = >$1M spent).

  12. I like being introduced to new blog sites through this series. I’m not required to subscribe to them, by either definition.

  13. I seriously doubt the authenticity of the largess of this guy’s expenditure to do all this in just 8 months. As ABC just pointed out, his claims are quite out of this world. His website is very smuggy and some what haute couture elitest. Not a kind of website I would follow. I hate myself for typing the world couture!

  14. I’m the author of this post, thanks so much Daraius for the interview! It’s interesting to see the controversy this has stired up. This interview was originally from July, and obviously some of the points tactics have expired since then. As with all things points, things change and you adapt.

    The online service I’m referring to launched in a Beta earlier this year, and seemingly stopped accepting new registrants. It’s still not charging any fees to liquidate, but you can only get $10k/month cashed out.

    I agree the format of the interview could be better, but that’s the nature of the web, get it out there, tweak it, and make it better for next time.

    Thanks for reading, hopefully you can learn something new from this, and I look forward to more posts from Daraius.