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: Ucanflyfree2
Duc is an adventurer who likes to travel and loves to do it for free or little cost. He also writes Ucanflyfree2 blog, so I was looking forward to our chat on Friday!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points in May 2010. I could remember exactly because my first credit card, the American Express Premier Gold Card, was due for annual fee a month ago. I learned about miles and points first through slickdeals and then in no time I learned about Flyertalk and get hooked.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
My friends keep asking me how I travel for free all the time and they want to do the same. I tried to explain over the phone and emails; however it is too complicated for most people to follow. Only writing in an effective way can show people that it is possible to travel for free with little work.
The special thing was that I took me almost a month to write the first post since I was debating what is good for an introduction
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Credit Card sign-up bonus is the most lucrative thing for miles. The most lucrative offer has been the 50k Amex reward points + 40k mistake points which both got converted to 135k Delta Skymiles. Last year, I racked up about 500,000 miles but this year, all of the bonus offers have been down significantly. I am so glad I discovered the frequent flyer community back in 2011.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I redeemed 80,000 Skymiles to fly from Austin to Seattle (stop overnight) to Seoul then to Hanoi, and on the way back I stopped by Korea for three days. I was able to visit 3 locations: Seattle, Seoul and Hanoi with one Delta award ticket. The ticket could have been $1,500 therefore Skymiles did work for me after many calls to their booking agents.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
I have been flying my mom abroad and domestically for free with AA and Southwest Companion Pass. She doesn’t really understand what I do but she is happy to fly for free. I also give my friends free domestic round-trip whenever I can. Now, I am so happy that my friends call and ask me for advice for traveling.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
American Airline website offers great savings on cars and hotels. The site allows you to book cars and hotels with AA miles and lets you buy the miles at 1.1 cent per mile, a great deal. This site is very useful when booking expensive hotels and cars reservation in big cities.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Donation can earn miles or points. It is a great way of meeting spending requirement and doing good things for the world.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wasn’t aware of the Chase Sapphire Preferred bump from 50k to 100k Ultimate Points. It could have been a nice extra 50k points.
I heard some people racked up millions of miles via Skymall Bonus shopping and the US Airways Grand Slam which I missed out on both. However this year, I will try to take advantage of the Grand Slam to the highest level.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I started a nonprofit organization similar to Kiva’s model, micro-donation to support disadvantaged children. The idea was very breakthrough and got a lot of supports from local corporations. I had many wonderful volunteers who all came from high-school and colleges. The best things were that we were able to give back to our own community.
Any parting words?
Playing “points and miles” game opens my eyes to opportunities. When you understand the system enough, you can see lucrative tricks and opportunities everywhere. So the key is to learn as much as you can and be ready for great offers.
Duc – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!