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: Jen of Deals We Like
Deals We Like covers not only the easy way to earn miles (credit card sign-up bonuses), but also the most lucrative promotions which travelers and not-so-frequent travelers can take advantage of.
Jen likes being incognito, but she did send along the following picture of her in Bali.
Deals We Like can help us earn more miles and points, and I was curious to hear Jen’s thoughts on miles and points (and how to get more of them!)
Daraius: How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Jen: My passion (and obsession!) for travel deals and points all started over five years ago. I started working at a management consulting firm traveling all over to various client sites. I spent every Monday to Thursday taking long plane rides and hotel hopping. I would take the flights with a layover though, instead of the direct flight to earn Executive Platinum status on American Airlines by June. People thought I was crazy, but I loved it!
Although this is really when I started earning tons of points and miles, my interest in travel promos/deals all started when I was younger. Every year my family would go on one or two family trips – typically to Florida to see the grandparents and then a week long cruise. And almost every year we were first in line at the gate asking the agent if the flight was oversold and eagerly volunteering to be bumped.
From what I remember, we got bumped every single trip – either on the way there or back! My dad would strategically book our flights during a popular time during the school vacation week. My mom would always pack what she called our “bumping bag” so if we had to stay over in a hotel and our luggage was already on its way to our destination we would be fine!
Why did you start Deals We Like? What’s special about it?
I started Deals We Like in February of 2011. I always talked about blogging, but never acted upon it. One day my husband came home and said “I bought you a URL, now you have no excuse.” Originally the intention was to blog about all deals, not just travel deals. I also love free stuff at drug stores (especially CVS and Rite Aid) and any shopping related deal. However, I started with the travel deals and it took off from there.
I think what is unique about my blog is that although I love the points and miles, I also love a good travel deal. For many people they aren’t going to open up 10 credit cards a year and subscribe to every free points offer out there, unfortunate but true! Many love just a good deal. I try to promote good travel deals when I see them, many times through the deal a day sites (i.e., Groupon, Living Social, RueLaLa, etc.).
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Always sign up for the free and easy stuff. For example, just in this past week I received 4,000 SPG points for clicking the “like” button on two different hotel’s facebook walls and 1,500 American Airline points for signing up to receive more emails. Those are the quick and easy things that take no time. 100 points here and there doesn’t mean much, but over a year it can really add up!
Another thing is to always make sure your frequent flyer or rewards number is on your airline or hotel reservation. I cringe when I hear the person next to me checking in and not having a rewards account and having no desire to open one.
Lastly, since I am a pretty big online shopper, I purchase all of my items through the AAdvantage Shopping links. This allows you to receive bonus points for the purchase value. This takes one extra step and you get free miles for purchases you were going to make anyways!
What’s your funniest travel experience?
Although my husband might not agree, one of my funniest travel stores is when we flew back from a vacation in Hawaii. At the time I was executive platinum on American so I got complimentary upgrades and was going to use my 500 mile upgrades on my husband. Unfortunately, the flight was pretty packed and only one business class seat was available (by the way, the business class seats from Hawaii were far better than your typical domestic business class seat).
So I did what any true frequent flyer would do – I took the business class seat! It was a 7 hour flight and we decided we’d switch in the middle (which of course never happened!). I was nice though and after my three course meal asked the flight attendant if he would sneak the massive ice cream sundae to my husband in coach, which he did!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My friends and family think I am insane, but deep down they really think it’s a smart way to travel (although they won’t admit it!).
They see the benefits I get from being so on top of my points and miles and other travel deals out there, but don’t understand how I have the patience to track the deals. Ultimately, they enjoy it because they get the perks of me signing them up for promotions and free travel advice!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Never give up and always ask to speak to a supervisor. 🙂
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I have all my credit cards linked to the AAdvantage Dining program. I do not seek out participating restaurants, but every so often I’ll receive an email that I received bonus miles by dining out!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I do a lot more hotel hopping now than I did when I first started. Many promotions are based on stays and not nights so having three one night stays in one week earns you a lot more than one stay of three nights.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
When I was 16 years old I took my first international trip and spent 5 weeks over the summer travelling around Israel. This was by far one of the best travel experiences I have ever had.
I was with a group of about 115 other 16 year olds (most of whom I grew up with) where we really got to emerge in the culture and experience everything! One of my favorite activities was sleeping in the desert, waking up at, I believe, 4am and climbing Masada. The view was gorgeous! It was by no means luxury travelling, but an experience I will never forgot.
Any parting words?
Seeing the world is one good promotion away.
Jen – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!
If you haven’t checked out Deals We Like, now is a good time to get started. Perhaps you’ll find a deal you like!