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: Aussie Points Expert
Jeremy runs Aussie Points Expert to show Aussies how to use miles and points to travel.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Because of where I worked, I had access to deeply discounted corporate Continental fares back around 1994. And I lived far from family. So I took many cheap trips, and signed up to their points program.
I earned enough over the years for 2 round-trips from Guatemala to Alaska, and then a free domestic ticket. But I actually had to fly those miles to earn the tickets! It took a long time. I also signed up to other airline programs when I flew with other carriers.
But I mainly searched for cheap airfares, though I gathered Continental miles when I could.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
After I’d moved to Australia in 2004 with my wife, I rarely visited the States due to the high cost. But in 2011 while researching a trip I stumbled on your blog and others like it. I couldn’t believe I was missing out as an expat living overseas and not even with a credit score back in the USA!
I spent at least 6 months reading and learning about points and searching the comments section of major points blogs. I was trying to see if other US expats had written in, so I could I learn how to benefit.
I’ve lived in Australia for 9 years, so I now have citizenship. And we have lots of friends here. Some of them heard of free or cheap trips we were getting, and wondered how we could afford to travel so much.
So I started my blog AussiePointsExpert.blogspot.com to help Australians learn how to benefit from credit card and points deals here. I noticed there were hardly any points blogs for Australians, and of the few I found, they were mainly geared at high spenders, or business travelers. Not us frugal travelers!
I’d like my site to be the go-to site for Aussies who want to better travel and for less.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
The single best way to get free or cheap trips is credit card signup bonuses! I doubt we’ll ever have the same bonuses as the US, but if we take advantage of what we do have, the Aussie banks may have to step up a bit more and offer some better deals to get our business.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I’ve had many, but my best travel experience would be my wedding in Australia! We married in 1998 there before we went back to New York City where I was living.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Some of them think I’m nuts or that I’ll ruin my credit. But a few have listened long enough to learn more, and are now benefiting by getting their own free trips. Others have wanted to learn more, so that is why I started the blog.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I think you have to be “VERY” organized if you want to be really successful at this. I am tracking about 30+ credit cards in 2 countries, for both my wife and I, and a few relatives! But the average person who is too busy for that, and doesn’t want to aggressively track lots of card or programs like I do, can easily monitor just a couple cards or programs and find they can get real benefits.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I once flew from the US to Australia and got no credit for the miles. I sent in my receipts and after some hassles I finally got my 20,000 mile credit and then another 20,000. A fluke! But after all my hassles I was glad to get a “bonus”.
Also, I can’t remember where I read this, but a blogger mentioned that whenever you fly you should look for things for which you can give commendation, such as the stewards, great service, etc. I generally look for something positive. Also, I note any deficiency.
Then, with the free on-board WiFi on the flight I log on to the airline website, while en-route, and submit comments good or bad. In the last year alone we’ve earned about 40,000 miles with different airlines by giving our good or negative comments.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
First of all, I wish I’d known I could get in on the US deals years ago! Also, that I should have more thoroughly researched the cards and points programs in Australia. And additionally, the double perks available to those who are residents or citizens of 2 or more countries.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
For quite a number of years we did totally unpaid volunteer work, so our income was $0, and we were still able to travel and see lots of places!
Any parting words?
Someone once wrote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only the first page.” While traveling, I’ve noted that we enjoy these unique privileges not because we deserve it, but simply because of the citizenship we inherited.
What a pity if we do not at least travel a little out of our comfort zone, whether domestically, or even overseas, since many folks do not have these opportunities! I’m amazed what I’ve learned from other cultures.
Jeremy – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!