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: Mary Alice of The Traveler’s Loophole
I read The Traveler’s Loophole to learn more about quick miles and points earning opportunities. Mary Alice also posts about other ways to save money such as taking advantage of free museum days or other travel related deals. I like saving money too and was eager to speak with Mary Alice!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Well, it began for me when I was working as an office manager arranging travel for a small company. I saw all of these miles and bonus opportunities available for the employees and I thought “all of these guys are going to be able to vacation for free!”
I wanted to do that too! Although I wasn’t traveling for work, I signed up for Northwest Airlines and a year later (after a 30,000 mile credit card offer and a lot of shopping online), I headed to Europe for the cost of the taxes.
Why did you start The Traveler’s Loophole? What’s special about it?
Originally, I started The Traveler’s Loophole because I had (I thought) more knowledge than the average person about traveling at very discounted prices. I wrote an e-book, The Traveler’s Loophole Guide, and the website was just to promote that.
To add value to the guide was really why I began searching for ways to get more miles. I found out quickly that there is a sea of information out there that’s available if you know where to look. Before this, I had not spent a significant amount of time on FlyerTalk or MilePoint, and WOW, I was quickly amazed at what I didn’t know.
During the past 8 months, The Traveler’s Loophole has gone through a transformation every two or three months as I learn more about this game. It has been great fun, and I hope my readers are learning along with me.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Shop online! This day-to-day change has gotten me more miles than anything over the years. Plus, I usually find that I spend less money buying items online than in the store. Online, you can apply coupons or price check multiple sites for the best deal, along with earning miles. It’s a win win!
This is especially true for me now because I tend to shop on Amazon quite often for the deals. When US Airways announced they were putting Amazon in their shopping portal, I was thrilled.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
My husband and I spent 5 weeks touring Europe in 2008. We took a 3 week Trafalgar tour and saw 14 countries! After that, we spent a week in the UK and the last week laying on the beach in the French Riviera. We needed a break!
While on the tour, we of course saw wonderful sites like the Parthenon, Venice, the Alps and many more. However, one of the things that stands out is the human interactions we had with the people who lived there.
One night, we are out with our fellow “tour”ists and we encountered a bachelor party. One guy asked Chris (my husband) and me where we were from and we told him “Michigan”, to which he responded by breaking out into song:
It was 1989, my thoughts were short my hair was long
Caught somewhere between a boy and man
She was seventeen and she was far from in-between
It was summertime in Northern Michigan
This Kid Rock song was very popular at the time and thankfully the radio stations here still play it once in a while. Every time I hear it I get to relive a bit of my trip. It’s amazing how music can bring your memories back.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My friends ask me about traveling and topping off their miles quite often. I have several friends who travel for work, and I help them maximize their miles and hotel points. These friends think it’s great! Others think I am a bit crazy, especially when they find out I have a website dedicated to it.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Tracking all of my miles and hotel points in one spot has helped greatly. Right now, I am using gomiles.com to track everything because I like the layout, and it allows me to keep my husband’s points and miles right along with mine.
For me, it’s easy to get distracted on the computer, so keeping as many things organized and in one place helps a lot. Also, one big thing I like to promote with my readers is to enroll your significant other (if they don’t mind) when sign up bonus promotions are available.
I am not sure why, but my husband gets more targeted offers than I do! Having two accounts that you are working with gives you more of a chance at those great targeted offers.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I love the dining program. It is probably the easiest way to earn miles since you don’t need anything but a debit card.
A few years ago, I signed up my husband for the Delta Skymiles dining program, and all of the sudden, he got getting a bunch of miles in his account! It turned out that the place he went to lunch quite often was on the list.
You just never know with the dining program, especially if you travel a lot. I don’t always look to see where I can earn miles when I am in another city.
What do you know now about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I had known about banking for miles. As soon as I found out about Citibank’s AAdvantage checking account I enrolled, but I was a bit reluctant to do so because I didn’t have a Citibank branch near my house.
I was nervous about opening an account when I wasn’t going to actually sit down face to face with a banker and get all of my paperwork. Today, I would much rather do everything online in my pajamas.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Typically, I keep my posts short and to the point so my readers probably don’t realize that most of the offers that I put on my blog, I actually do. I have filled out more insurance quote forms, applied for free trials, taken more surveys, and churned more credit cards than you could believe!
Any parting words?
Once you take that first free flight, you will be hooked.
Mary Alice – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!
So if you’re looking for quick and easy ways to save money and earn miles and points, check out The Traveler’s Loophole.