Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Can I Pay Less
Benson is a software guy who runs the canipayless.com website that compares reward miles and points on multiple credit cards.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Over 15 years ago when there were far fewer point systems and each point was worth much more. They’re still good now, but when they first started to come out and you played by their rules you could easily get 3% per dollar spent of value even on some merchandise.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
It’s more of a credit card comparison site than a blog. I tried blogging but I am better at writing software than articles. What’s special about it is that we’re the first site to let you compare the reward values of multiple credit cards.
We first tried it out in Canada where there are only 100 different reward cards and now we’re happy to offer our unique comparisons to the 250+ US credit cards.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Educate yourself on the value of these miles. The reward mile industry has put a lot of effort to obscure the true value of miles. If you compare them based on dollar terms you’ll know which miles you should be earning and which to ignore.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
First time flying to Anaheim to attend Blizzcon (it’s a video game conference), there were over 3 hours of delays during a layover and we are told we would have to catch a later flight. This was a problem because there were no later flights to Anaheim until half way through the conference. We were taken off the list for the Anaheim flight and told we would be reimbursed for hotel expenses which normally would be cool but normally we’re not trying to get to Blizzcon.
The plane doors open and my girlfriend and I run through the airport, in less than 12 minutes we made it across the entire airport, found our bags, checked our bags, convinced them to let us back on the flight we were taken off of and made it to our conference. Well, that and the time I was chosen to be picked up in a bucket by an acrobat’s legs.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My friends thought it was boring at first, but they eventually understood and started collecting too.
Him: I don’t have time for that.
Me: It will take you 10 minutes to fill out this application and eventually activate your card.
Him: It’s too much work.
Me: For the rest of the week (it was mid Wednesday) you will work over 20 hours. You will earn more with this 10 minutes than you will with 20 hours of work.
Him: I guess…
But then he eventually signed up and once he saw his points in his account it was completely different!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
This might seem obvious but, I use my very own tool to find and keep the best credit card combination. I had a pretty good combo before, but I’m the type of person that wants the best and am willing to work to get the best. I realized that no other comparison site considered that people have more than one credit card so I went ahead and made one.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Going for a walk with my dog. It was garbage day / paper recycling day and someone threw out a box of popsicles that offered 10 miles if you redeem their code on the box. Coincidentally I was less than 10 miles from being able to redeem my points so that worked out really well for me.
It’s not like I go around picking garbage but it was staring right at me.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Know which credit card to use. My first credit cards tricked me and the points ended up with almost no value. Then when it’s time to start redeeming, be patient because the merchandise looks nice and tempting but they certainly are not as valuable as flights.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I quit my job to start this company. Yup, I dived right in! When I quit I had no real plan. I just knew I wanted to start a company and the two things I am really good at are writing software and spending money intelligently.
At first I also wrote a cool little site that found gas prices through gas buddy, found credit card rebates for gas spending, converted any mile or point values of specific gas stations and showed a side by side view of posted vs. effective gas prices. I was surprised how Costco would rarely rank first, but still have long line ups at their gas stations from their low posted price.
I once wrote a site that compared every cell phone plan. It was dreadful reading through all the cell phone plan fine print! The results were very interesting, but there were too many things to consider like signal quality, locked in contracts, “free” phones, and there were few ways to make money.
Any parting words?
Pay off your credit cards in full, the interest rates are so high it’s painful to see anyone pay them. Our credit card comparison currently ignores interest rates because it’s made for people who pay off their balance in full and don’t need to know the rates.
I’ve never paid credit card interest but a friend of mine does. One time I tried to help him with his spending but when I saw him again he had bought a brand new computer. “How much did you pay for that?” I asked, and he responded “You don’t want to know… it will hurt you more than me.”
Benson – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!