Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Thrifty Traveler
Jared writes Thrifty Traveler along with his friend Nick. His blog is not only about travel, and includes lot of tips and tricks for saving money. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I got into the “points hobby” back in 2009, when I first started traveling for work. The first card I applied for was the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. I’ve been a cardholder ever since, and I still put a majority of my spending on that card.
In 2009, the miles and points community was small and one of the few resources was FlyerTalk. It would take hours to dig through forum posts to find the best redemptions. I think that’s what kept the community so small until recently. In 2010, The Points Guy launched his site, and shortly after Million Mile Secrets was also launched.
I’ve learned quite a few tips and tricks over the years from reading Million Mile Secrets!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Friends, family, and acquaintances frequently ask my wife and I how we afford to travel so frequently. We don’t have a ton of money, and people have this notion we are too young to be able to travel as much as we do. After a while we had friends of friends contacting us to learn more.
Creating a site was an easy way to answer everyone’s questions in one place. I have a passion for photography and technology so it was a great fit. I’m also points and miles obsessed 🙂
For years I had toyed with the idea of a website, and in 2015, Thrifty Traveler was finally launched. Maximizing credit card rewards is only one component of Thrifty Traveler. I’ve recently developed an automated search tool which helps find cheap flights. The majority of the site’s content features flight deals.
We list 6 to 10 flight deals daily, with an emphasis on international deals. We also post travel reviews, points & miles redemption guides, and insider information on the best ways to save money on your next vacation. I highly recommend readers sign-up for our daily newsletter, so you never miss a post.
The focus is really to show people that no matter what stage in life or financial situation you are in, you can make travel a priority. Travel rewards and flight deals are the best tools to make your travel dreams a reality.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Apply for credit card sign-up bonuses is the simple answer, but category spending is also important. You don’t want to leave extra points on the table. Those category multipliers can pay huge dividends.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Flying Emirates First Class with my wife on the Airbus A380 this spring from Washington, DC, to Dubai, and Dubai to Madrid. There is nothing better than drinking bottomless Dom Perignon and showering at 40,000 feet. The hard and soft product offered by Emirates is unbelievable.
Sadly, after the devaluation of the Alaska Mileage Plan program this spring, the Emirates First Class redemption now requires almost twice as many points as before.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Most friends and family members think I’m a little crazy. One time we had some friends over and I had 20 credit cards stacked up on the counter. They were definitely a little worried about us.
Everyone is skeptical about travel rewards credit cards at first, but once they see other friends and family traveling on miles and points, everyone wants in.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Redeeming airline miles can be confusing with so many airline alliances and programs. AwardHacker is a powerful tool to help find the best award flights without being an expert in every airline program. AwardHacker simplifies the process and tells you step by step how to find the cheapest airline redemption.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Earning Crossover Rewards with Uber, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Delta. I take Uber while staying at Starwood hotels, and I fly Delta. I earn extra Starwood points from the hotel stay, Uber, and flying!
I also earn Delta miles from staying at Starwood hotels. It’s hard to beat that! I’m still hoping the Marriott-Starwood merger will fall through. I’m a huge fan of the Starwood program and their hotel portfolio.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I would have started sooner! That’s probably the most common answer you’ll hear. Everyone always thinks the golden age of the points game was right before they started.
There have been some incredible opportunities to earn points in recent years, but it does seem that the banks are tightening the rules. I always apply now and ask questions later. You never know when that great offer will disappear without notice.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Most people don’t realize Thrifty Traveler is just a hobby of mine and contributor Nick Serati. I wake up daily at 5am to start posting and then write more after work. It’s like working two full time jobs, but it’s a passion project and I love it.
I travel 80 to 100 nights a year, and I’m not a fan of sitting in my hotel room watching TV. I get the most work done on the site when I’m on the road. Thankfully, I also have a lovely wife who is supportive of the site.
Any parting words?
Thanks for educating me over all these years, Million Mile Secrets! Keep up the good work!
Jared – 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!