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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: Miles Points Reselling
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points in 2011. My wife and I got the travel bug in our late 20’s when we went on our first trip to Hawaii and Europe in 2009. I fell in love with Hawaii that year. I vowed to go back every year for the rest of my life.
As a couple of DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids), annual trips to Hawaii and trips to Europe were easy. When kids came along, well, that complicated matters.
Our first son was born in 2011. My wife quit work to be a stay-at-home mom, and our travel budget took a hit. Long story short, after searching the internet high and low for how to travel cheap I discovered Frugal Travel Guy and FlyerTalk.
It was a mind-altering experience. I was skeptical at first, but after our first extremely discounted trip to Hawaii I was sold.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
A year ago, when opportunities to meet spending requirements were becoming more limited, I came to the realization that reselling may be a valuable tool that I should explore. I decided that I wanted to write about my experience reselling, the highs and lows.
My thought at the time was that others could learn from my example. I am a rookie reseller trying to stumble my way through this while trying not to lose my shirt.
Along the way, I got picked up by First2Board (thanks Simon), and managed to turn a decent profit in my first year of reselling.
What’s one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Credit cards are the obvious answer, but everyone knows that. What I think a lot of people tend to overlook are shopping portals. Especially in combination with credit card bonus categories. You can earn some really out-sized rewards when you start to stack portals and credit card bonus categories.
Combine that with resell opportunities, plus store rewards programs, and you can even turn a profit while doing so.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
My wife and I have had a lot of great travel experiences. From the mundane, such as our first weekend alone in Las Vegas two years back, or the more exciting, like a First Class trip to Paris. They are all memorable in their own way.
In the last few years I think my favorite trip was when we went to the Big Island, Hawaii, in December with our 2 older sons (the third had not come along yet). It was a wonderful trip and cost us next to nothing. The boys still talk about Hawaii.
Airfare was $20 for the 4 of us, the hotel was free, the rental car was free, and most of our food was covered as well. In all, I think we spent about $400 out of pocket for an 8-day trip to the Big Island. Since that trip we have added a third son.
We will be returning to Maui in January 2017, and I have 5 tickets booked for us at a cost of $30. In May of 2017, we are also planning a trip to Ireland with all the kids. I love miles & points, there is no way I could do these things without them.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They were all skeptical at first, but I have been doing this long enough now and they’ve seen the results. Now they are all pretty accepting of it. In fact, I recently booked my mom and dad a flight to London in Business Class for their first trip to Europe.
Co-workers are usually dumbfounded when I tell them about it for the first time. I always love the look on their face when they find out I am flying somewhere in fancy class and it only cost me a hundred bucks.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Great question. Reselling is certainly an aspect of this hobby I wish I knew more about at the beginning. Especially when you consider how helpful it can be for meeting spending requirements and earning a profit on the side.
Every now and then in the miles & points world, I slap my head thinking, “Why didn’t I realize that earlier?” Reselling falls into that category.
Daunting as it may be, reselling is a valuable tool in the miles and points game, and worth experimenting with.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Back in my rookie days I had applied for an Alaska Airlines card with a 25,000 point bonus. Shortly thereafter, a 40,000 point version was released.
Silly me, I called Alaska Airlines at the time and asked if they could match the miles (I had no concept back then who was responsible for giving me the miles I earned). The very nice Alaska Airlines customer service representative told me to just apply for a second card, so I did. What an epiphany that was.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Preparation before applying for credit cards.
I used to just apply for cards every few months and not give much thought to what cards I already had, and my credit limits with banks. After you do this for a while, it does not take long to maximize the credit limit a bank is willing to give you.
In the good old days, I would just call the reconsideration line and ask to move around credit. I’ve had less success with that strategy as of late. Now, when I plan out what cards I am going to get, I also look at what my credit limits are with those banks.
For example, before I apply for a card with Citi I will look at the other cards I have with Citi and reduce my credit limits on those cards.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I offer an award booking service with unlimited bookings for $45 per year. That is an insanely cheap price, so I tend to be selective in my clients. No corporate clients, and I usually tend to help those who are new to the hobby. The service is geared towards teaching people how to book awards with the points they earn.
Any parting words?
If you can’t manage your money, don’t get involved in this hobby. I am pretty good with managing my money and even then I have missed a credit card payment a couple of times.
If you are starting out, I highly recommend not applying for 6 credit cards all at once. I often tell my points clients who are brand new to this hobby to start with no more than 2 cards and see how it goes meeting the minimum spending requirements. Use that as a bench mark to judge what you are capable of.
Scott – 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!