Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Points Pointers
Ramy started Points Pointers to help folks choose the right credit card and use their miles for a dream vacation.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
It all began the summer of 2014, when my wife and I were talking about going to Asia at some point in our lives. We both had never been before and we love exploring new places. I knew getting to Asia from New York required ultra long-haul flights.
Given my 6’ 1” frame and lack of ability to sleep on airplanes, I had to figure out a way to get there in Business Class. I knew it could be done using miles or points, but my knowledge about the topic was very limited at the time.
I started researching my options on Google and I quickly found myself on Million Mile Secrets along with some other blogs. I was instantly hooked!
A couple of months later, I applied for my 1st Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®. After more research and a few credit cards later, our trip to Asia was booked.
In January 2016, I spent the most amazing 2 weeks with my wife in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Phuket. We were able to score Business Class seats on Japan Airlines for our outbound flights and Cathay Pacific on our return home.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
After a year of daily reading and learning about the miles and points world, I was overloaded with information. In that same year I acquired 12 credit cards and amassed a TON of miles and points from credit card sign-up bonuses.
I found myself constantly talking about credit card benefits and perks with family and friends and I was always met with a ton of questions.
That inspired me to start my blog and use it as a tool to organize and document the information I acquired. Additionally, I wanted it to be used as a go-to place to answer all the questions I get from my family and friends. Especially, “What’s the effect of card applications on your credit score?”
What’s special about my blog is that it is simple, easy to follow, and most importantly, personal.
I want people, whether they are beginners or experts, to be able to reach out to me with their questions about their miles and points. I want them to sense excitement in my writing. And I want to simplify what may seem like a very complicated process.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
The short answer will always be credit card sign-up bonuses.
In addition to that however, shopping portals are a great place to get a ton of miles on shopping you might do anyway. The best thing about it is you can double dip to earn even more points.
For example, you can sometimes earn up to 10X American Airlines miles (depending on the promotion at the time) on purchases from a certain online store through the American Airlines shopping portal.
Plus, you can pay with a credit card, like the Citi Prestige, and earn 1 Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent on your purchase.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
As most of your interviewees said, there are just too many to pick one.
Most memorable would have to be my honeymoon. We went to the Maldives and stayed in the most beautiful water villa at the Constance Halaveli Maldives.
It was so surreal to have the beautiful clear blue water in our backyard for a week. From arriving on a sea plane, to seeing fish pass by through the glass floors, to snorkeling throughout the day, and swimming with stingrays just several feet from our room. It was such a unique experience.
Of course the personal butler and delicious dinners made it even more memorable 🙂
If I can mention 1 more quick memorable moment, it was on our way back in Cathay Pacific Business Class.
After we made it through some rough turbulence, we had this moment of peace and serenity where all I could think was how thankful I was for such an incredible trip.
All the time and energy spent planning and organizing finally paid off. We were on our way back home with a ton of unforgettable memories.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
The initial reaction is always that I’m crazy and I’m ruining my credit score (which isn’t true). Another typical reaction I get is, it’s too complicated to manage all the different credit card accounts (it’s easier than you might think).
After a little explanation, I often receive the question, “So which credit card do you recommend I apply for now?” And that makes me so happy.
My wife was very skeptical at 1st and didn’t want to apply for multiple credit cards. That all changed after our trip to Asia and experiencing the benefits of this hobby.
She is now a lot less reserved with applying for credit cards, which means we can practically double our miles and points haul.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Mint is a great tool I use to manage all my credit cards in 1 place. I’m able to see transactions on all my credit cards and get bill payment reminders. This is a very useful tool given that I’m currently managing 17 credit cards between the 2 of us.
Bonus tip: It is also a great tool for budgeting and keeping you on top of your personal finances.
And Evreward helps me find the best shopping portal deals before I make any online purchase.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Last summer, my wife (after plenty of convincing) applied for the The Platinum Card from American Express and earned 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points (this offer is not publicly available).
I also jumped on that deal quickly before it ended. And once we met the minimum spending requirements on the cards, we were up 200,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points!
I wouldn’t have found that deal if I didn’t follow all these travel bloggers on social media for tips on getting targeted for AMEX card offers.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Firstly, I wish I found blogs like Million Mile Secrets a lot sooner. I would’ve collected more miles and points over the years.
Secondly, I wish I knew about shopping portals years ago. I do almost all of my shopping online whether it’s clothing, electronics, or gifts. I feel like I’ve wasted thousands and thousands of miles and points over years of shopping online.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m a full-time Engineer with a Masters in Construction Management who builds public schools in New York City 🙂 I hope this shows anyone can get into this hobby.
Also, my wife and I love to buy magnets from every travel destination. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even see the refrigerator door anymore. We’ve had some casualties while opening the door, but nothing a little super glue won’t fix.
Any parting words?
I love and enjoy all the experiences at my travel destinations. Whether it’s exposure to new cultures, eating new foods, sight seeing in a beautiful city, or relaxing with a drink on a beach. But I dread the sometimes 7+ hour flights sitting in coach.
Now, thanks to points and miles, getting there is half the fun. Zooming thru security with TSA PreCheck, relaxing at an airport lounge before the flight, and enjoying gourmet food in a lie-flat seat makes the whole travel experience that much more enjoyable.
I encourage everyone to start this hobby nice and slow and eventually you’ll find yourself booking your 1st Business or First Class flight!
Thanks Emily and Daraius for having me on Million Mile Secrets, it is an honor!
Ramy – 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!