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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Crazy 4 Rewards
You an follow Crazy 4 Rewards on Twitter.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
After watching the Extreme Couponing show, I started to use coupons for a while. Wanting to find coupon deals at CVS, I found a post about buying Vanilla Reload cards at CVS and was amazed how people were able to travel using miles and points. I was hooked immediately.
We have always collected miles through credit card spending, but at a lower rate. We only had 2 credit cards, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. We redeemed miles and points for some flights and free nights, but never were able to book a full trip with miles and points.
I abandoned the coupons (and my husband took over) and I started collecting miles and points through credit card sign-up bonuses.
We like to travel and we try to do it twice a year. One trip with the kids and another trip just for us. Thanks to the miles and points game we can now travel to more exotic places that we wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.
We’ve successfully used miles and points for vacations with our family of six. Last spring we went to Hawaii and thanks to the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard’s 100,000 miles sign-up bonus at that time, I’ve already booked our trip to Paris and Switzerland for next spring.
For our anniversary trip last year we went to Hawaii, and in August of this year went to Germany and Thailand.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
My husband, Jorge, read a post on how to start a blog by The Krazy Coupon Lady (where he gets his coupon deals) and since people wanted to know how we were able to travel with miles and points, he encouraged me to start one.
In our blog we share our experiences using miles and points and we also post some of Jorge’s couponing deals.
Our blog is different from other blogs because not many blogs share experiences traveling with families, and I haven’t seen any for a family as big as ours.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Stop using cash and pay for everything with credit cards. If you don’t want to have too many credit cards, get a flexible one like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard that you can use for any travel expense.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
We valued many travel experiences. Out of our recent trips, Hawaii has been a memorable experience.
In Kauai, we loved the Na Pali Coast Sunset Cruise.
And on the Big Island, my kids loved the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Many of our friends and family are interested in the hobby and want to learn. We receive a lot of calls asking for advice on which credit card they should apply for and “training” on how to redeem their points.
We are very happy to help!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
For our anniversary trip to Hawaii we booked the flights with Hawaiian Airlines miles and somehow we earned miles from the trip. I was also expecting to earn miles when we traveled with the kids (X 6), but we were not lucky that time.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
You can save a lot more by getting miles and points from credit card sign-up bonuses and the impact on the credit score is minimal. In comparison, the process of earning points through credit card spending is very slow and the savings might never be enough to book a full trip with miles and points.
The perks that you get from the credit cards (like elite status) can be very valuable, especially if you have kids. Being able to share miles when you have a big family is another great benefit.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Although we both studied Chemistry, according to a professional aptitude test Jorge’s aptitude is for Education, and mine is for Finance. No wonder why I’m always looking for opportunities to spend less money, especially for travel related expenses.
Any parting words?
As parents, giving our kids the opportunity to explore the world has been very rewarding. Everywhere we go people always compliment us for having such well-behaved kids. We feel very proud and happy when people say that to us and sometimes they ask what our secret is.
We take them to different places and have them in all kinds of activities. Those experiences make them who they are and hopefully will be valuable memories when they grow up.
Anabelle – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!
If you’d like to be considered for our interview series, please send me a note!