Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Life, Tailored
Andrew writes Life, Tailored to show folks everything they do in life should be the best it possibly can be and they can do it all for less.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Our blog is about being able to live a luxurious lifestyle for less. We teach you how to maximize coupons, referrals, and credit card points to experience the best in life. Through referral programs, I’ve gotten more than $10,000 in clothes and I wanted to teach every how they can do this too.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Learn how to accumulate points by buying items online and not having to go to Walmart every day.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
I’m insane, and wasting my time, that is, until they saw the pictures from our wedding.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Google spreadsheets. Keep excellent records.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
During 1 of my experiments with the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, I bought Neiman Marcus gift cards at 8X points. My plan was to resell them back to Giftcards.com or another portal, but the exchange rate dropped and it wasn’t worth me selling at a 15% loss. So I put the gift cards aside in a drawer, and planned to wait until rates went up.
Well, my wife was looking for her checkbook 1 day and found the gift cards. She wanted to use them to buy clothes, since there’s a 100% return rate on using the gift cards for actually buying clothes. So I bought the gift cards at 8X points, when I went back in to buy the clothes through the shopping portal, I got another 8X points. I ended up buying my wife clothes, and earning 16X points at the same time.
Fortunately, if we have to return some of the clothes, they do get credited back to my credit card, so I can claim I am somewhat earning miles at a reduced rate.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
My biggest regret is I didn’t start earning lots miles back when I was in college. At that time, I was buying and selling Dell computers on eBay to pay for college. If I had gotten in on the US Mint game, I would have Platinum status on pretty much every airline and I would basically be on retirement mode :).
So back to reality, since I didn’t get in on the US Mint game, and only started collecting miles 8 months ago, it’s been a dramatic learning curve. I live in New York City, where there are no Walmarts, so I could never get into the traditional the Bluebird game.
When I first started, I considered driving out to New Jersey and the surrounding areas just to collect miles at Walmart, but was quickly dissuaded by the fact that I don’t have a car, and dread the idea of going from New York to New Jersey (no offense) just for the purpose of miles. When I factored in the cost of my time, I was better off just buying miles at 2 cents each.
So with that thought out of the way, I had to focus on ways to buy and sell gift cards and products from home. I’ve been buying gift cards from Staples for quite awhile and have been really happy with the 2X points from the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, and the 5X points from the Chase Ink cards.
At 7X points for every $100, if I buy $50,000 worth of gift cards, I’ve got 350,000 ($50,000 in gift cards x 7X points) Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I can transfer to United Airlines, my airline of choice.
The most difficult part about going through $50,000 in gift cards is having patience with the money sitting in remote accounts. Using online payment services, you’re restricted to withdrawing $10,000 per month, so for me, I wish I would have churned $10,000 per month instead of trying to load up all my spending in 1 month.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Until this year, I had never flown outside North America.
Any parting words?
At the beginning of this year I had never flown First Class because I couldn’t afford it. Eight months in, and my wife and I have flown First Class 6 times.
Andrew – 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!