Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: My 13 Cents
Christian writes My 13 Cents to help readers find amazing deals.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting points and miles ~3 years ago. I was in my 1st year of dental school and 1 of my classmates was telling me about how he had a few credit cards that came with huge bonuses worth $400+. What? You can get $400+ from a credit card? This was mind boggling to me.
I had always grown up thinking that it was bad to have more than 1 to 2 credit cards. Having lots of credit cards hurts your credit score after all…right?!?
I started doing some research online and came across sites like Million Mile Secrets and I was hooked! I found out that signing-up for lots of credit cards doesn’t harm your credit score over time and I quickly learned terms like “app-o-rama”.
The miles and points world is a crazy and awesome world! It’s kind of like a secret club of nerdy, smart people making some easy bucks…and I was happy to join the club!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Like many others, I started my blog, My13Cents.com, to share this wonderful information with family and friends. Not only that, I started my blog as a resource for me!
My blog doesn’t only cover miles, points, manufactured spending, credit card bonuses, etc. I also write about personal finance, early retirement, and random deals and discounts.
I love to be as honest and open on my blog as possible. Want to know how much I’m making by loading prepaid gift cards with my credit card? I share that information. Want to know how much I make? My income? Expenses? These are things I’m willing to share because I think being open and honest helps both me and the reader.
People who enjoy the miles and points game also tend to have similar interests in living frugally, personal finance, and early retirement. So I combine all of these aspects into 1 place and show how they can all be related.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Readers here understand about credit card bonuses and different tricks for meeting minimum spending requirements on credit cards. That’s number 1 and you can’t beat it. The Target Prepaid REDcard is also the new must-have.
After that I would say that there are many opportunities to use your credit card on an individual basis. For example, I’m still a student (I graduate this summer!) and the tuition and fees I have to pay are very high ($20,000 per quarter!).
Thankfully, I’m on an Army scholarship and my tuition is paid for! However, when my tuition gets posted to my school account, I pay the whole balance with my credit card.
Then later I get reimbursed for the same amount because of my scholarship. That’s $80,000 a year I’ve been able to put on credit cards! That sure makes it easy to meet the minimum spending on credit cards!
Most schools would charge a fee for paying with a credit card, but my school doesn’t. In last 3 years I’ve charged over $250,000 on my credit cards!
Now most people don’t have this opportunity or don’t recognize an opportunity that is similar. I had to really think about different ways to spend on my credit card to find this opportunity.
I think others might have similar opportunities to earn more points and miles that is unique to their situation. Maybe it’s through work? Maybe it’s through a local business? You just have to figure out what works for you!
I’m curious, what ways do you put lots of spending on your credit cards that is unique to your situation? Anyone ever pay their tuition with credit cards like I do?
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
In the last 3 years I’ve been to Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Utah, and California for free or almost free. That’s not bad considering I’m in dental school. I would travel more, but it’s a little hard when I’m busy with school and I have 2 children.
My favorite? Hawaii is always a fun place to go. I’ve been to the Big Island, Oahu, and Kauai. Kauai was my favorite of the three. Great beaches, very tropical, and lots to do.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Everyone is always very intrigued about how I’m able to travel for free and earn tons of cash back. I’m happy to answer a lot of questions. My brother has picked up the hobby, but no one else has jumped in like I have. I don’t tell them all the details unless they ask about it.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
This hobby is constantly changing.
So of course you need to stay up-to-date on all the changes. Besides subscribing to the Million Mile Secrets RSS feed, Facebook, or Twitter, I would recommend being active on a miles and points forum such as Flyertalk…Daraius, maybe you should start a forum?!?! 😉
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Well, I always expect to earn miles! I’m surprised when I don’t earn miles.
But the best answer I’ve found (like I mentioned earlier) is paying for my dental tuition! My school doesn’t charge any fees to use a credit card to pay for tuition. I’ve put over $250,000 of spending on my credit card paying for tuition…dental school is expensive!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Some credit cards are easier to get than others. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is a must-have credit card. I have 1, but my wife doesn’t. If I had applied for that card early on for her I would have probably had her approved. Now that she has 10 or more credit cards, it’s been much harder getting this card approved.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m an identical twin…my twin brother is an ophthalmologist!
Any parting words?
Thanks for the opportunity to have an interview here. Million Mile Secrets is top notch!
Every month I put out a newsletter with my income and expenses for the month. It will include how much I make with miles and points from spending and credit card bonuses. This is currently only available via a FREE email newsletter, so sign-up if you are interested.
Come check out my blog. I think you will like it!
Christian – 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!