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: Delta Points
René writes Delta Points for folks who want to understand how to extract the most value from their Delta Points. Delta SkyMiles are harder to use than most airlines, so I was curious to chat with René and learn more about shaking the value out of my Delta miles.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Wow. I want to answer that in two stages as I have been collecting points for many years. I have run my computer business for 16 years but even buying thousands of dollars worth of parts on my old North West Airlines US Bank Visa card only earned me a few coach class tickets now and then to Sweden.
So, the second stage answer is how I have been collecting miles for the past 2 years. With Frugal Travel Guy’s help and work on my own I have earned almost 2.5 million miles. It is astounding to me the quantity of points that are out there with some effort, work and minor cost.
Why did you start Delta Miles? What’s special about it?
As I said in my very first blog post ever (shameless plug), I think there is a real need. Plus, there are so many people who just cannot stand Delta Airlines due to the somewhat challenging effort it takes to get low level awards all over this globe. But that also leads into your second question. My blog, if you take the time to read it, will show how to get those low level seats even at peak travel times like summer to Europe. Delta miles are one of the simplest to earn and thus can have great value in my eyes and many of us do love our Delta airlines.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
I had to give some real thought to this question as for me it will be the one most readers focus in on and say “let’s see what your blogger says about this one!” My answer is twofold. First, get over the erroneous fear that applying for 5 or 10 credit cards a year will hurt your long term credit score. If you can average 50,000 points per card the math is easy to see just how many points a year you can earn.
The next one is do your homework and trust bloggers like us when we post a good deal. For example, I earned 1/4 million Delta Skymiles in September from Skymall for buying and selling Samsung Galaxy tablets all-in for just $700. That earned me 2 trips to Sweden to see my mom in business class with 50,000 left over for other fun trips like skiing in Salt Lake.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Anther great question Daraius. Do I answer this about a trip or points? Maybe both. I fly for 2 reasons. First to see my mom and family in Sweden. The other to vacation now and then. One of the things I love about using Delta miles is that they let you do a stopover for free.
One of the big Delta hubs is in Paris. So, Lisa (my wife) and I took several days and got an unlimited bus/train pass and went all over Paris. We flew business class for free on points, stayed free on points and just had a blast. We felt like kids!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Some get it, some do not. I have some of my friends and even business clients starting to read my blog and get what I am doing and that thrills me. Some are collecting points in their own way and I love and respect that too. This is not a “one size fits all” game.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
It is so true that there is “no free lunch”. To play this game, what it takes is some time, organization and work on the reader’s part. If you enjoy it, the rewards can be huge. So, take the time each day, say 15-30 minutes each day. Read Million Mile Secrets, deltapoints.com, and others to learn where you too can earn a ton of points.
The other big thing is earn points for everything and track them somewhere like award wallet. It is crazy how many ways you can earn miles even if it takes time. I had ZERO US Air miles this year but thanks to Mommy Points and a credit card each for Lisa and I, we now both have 80,000. After next year’s grand slam that is sure to come, I will have enough for each of us to fly Lufthansa 1st class to visit family in Sweden in 2013. I will have spent all-in $700 by then for those tickets. Crazy fun!
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I would say the now gone AMEX Membership rewards bump codes. I started 2 years ago with the 50,000 gold card. Bumped it up to 100,000 with a bonus code. Then upgraded from gold to platinum and got another 50,000. Then got 10,000 for a search bar code.
Then another 25,000 for a spend code. Then got $200 in Southwest Airlines gift certs for the card bonus paying for incidentals. Then I got paid back $100 for global entry. All of this for a $250 fee and the first half of the year was free from the first gold card I started with. Wow what a blizzard of points!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
The one thing I regret the most is not getting started with credit cards sooner than I did. I could have earned millions of American Airline miles from Citi cards and lifetime status with American Airlines. Thankfully there seem to be more and more points on the way from the banks so all is not lost! I do my best to keep the best deals up on my blog as I see you do as well.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I am dyslexic. So the idea of blogging scares the daylights out of me. So, if you see typos on the blog please be kind to me. It has taken a lot for me to jump in and do this but I am happy I have!
Any parting words?
Take some time and learn from those like you, me, Rick, Mommy points, Gary Leff, Ben and so many more. Start earning everywhere you can – and I mean everywhere. With some time and work our readers will be shocked how quickly they can get used to always riding “in front of the curtain” on every trip! And a big thank you for the interview and for your blog!
René – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!