Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Credit Card Joint
Ben writes Credit Card Joint to share his knowledge on points, miles, airfare, and credit scores.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
There were actually 2 start dates. When I was 18, literally on my birthday I started out with applying for credit cards. Back then I was an obnoxious teenager who knew very little and didn’t need anyone’s help.
I started with a National City (Ohio bank) points credit card. The card was a “points” credit card. There were 1%, 2%, 3%, and 4% categories. What I didn’t realize was that before I would begin accruing points I needed to spend $10,000 on the card. The points also had a terrible value, it was a total disaster.
My real start day was when I was 21. I started to accrue points and miles for cash purposes. A Chase Sapphire Preferred card with a 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus was worth $400 cash.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I was getting questions from family and friends all the time. I was the go-to guy with any questions regarding points, miles, airfare, credit scores, and more. I felt like I was answering the same question multiple times.
I came out with an idea, whenever someone would ask me a question I would post it on my blog page. This way the next time someone asked me I would just link them to that post.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Use shopping portals. Always check evreward.com or cashbackmonitor.com to find out which portal is paying the highest. Sometimes a smaller purchase of $100 can net you more bonus miles than a larger purchase of $500.
The $500 purchase can give you 1% cash back in a portal and a $100 purchase can have a big bonus of 10X points. For example befrugal.com gives 55% back on McAfee purchases.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
When I was 12 years old, I was flying New York to London on British Airways.
It was the pre 9/11 days, I sat in the cockpit for a half hour. It was pretty neat to watch how a turn of a dial turns the plane. The only way you will be let in a cockpit while flying nowadays is if you are the pilot!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They love the hobby, they are also getting involved in earning points and miles. They hate the blog! They rather talk one on one with me than read me blabber! I still give them time, but not as much as they like.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Awardwallet is by far the most vital tool that needs to be used. Award Wallet will help you keep track of all your mileage programs and log in information.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Grandma. She once sent me 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points because I was short a few miles. That is the beauty of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. It is so easy to combined points.
You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to accounts of friends and loved ones. But only transfers to your spouse or partner are listed in the terms. So assess the risk before you make a transfer!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Organization. The only way you will be able to churn cards is if you know the date that you applied. The same is true for paying your bills and meeting a spending threshold.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
My main business believe it or not is online sales. By utilizing the correct credit card you can make a simple purchase profitable.
For example, take a $1,000 computer sold at Staples, after taxes it would be $1,070 (since I have a resale (tax free) account it will only be $1,000).
I can sell it on Amazon for $1,030. Amazon will charge me $40 in fees. For the average seller this product would be unfeasible to sell, as it will net a loss.
However since I have an immense knowledge in credit cards, I can make a very healthy profit with 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points, 4X in a shopping portal, 1X in Visa Savings Edge which is 10% off my cost.
I can make a $70 profit while my competition can’t even sell this item.
Any parting words?
A smaller sign-up bonus may still pan out to be a better card.
But the 5X points on rotating categories you get with the Chase Freedom can be worth more than the 2X points on travel and dining you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Even though you started of with a smaller bonus, the Freedom will quickly catch up.
Ben – 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!