Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Points Travelers
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
We caught the travel bug after our first big trip to Greece in 2014. And wanted to see the world and travel as much as possible but knew we could never afford it.
After reading countless travel blogs, we came across the idea of using miles and points to travel for free and haven’t looked back since.
We started by opening the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and the Chase Hyatt card and used the sign up bonuses for flights and hotels on our next trip to Europe.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Our family and friends were really intrigued by our travels, and kept asking us how we do it. We decided to start a blog to give everyone all the information they needed so they could do it, too!
What’s special about our blog is that it not only includes miles and points strategies, but also city and hotel reviews so readers have a plan once they arrive.
We also plan to upload all of our detailed travel itineraries in the next couple of months. Everything we recommend comes from our personal experience and we try to target it towards working professionals like ourselves.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Earn credit card signup bonuses and bonuses for referrals. Stay up to date on what each credit card is offering for sign-up bonuses and get it when it’s at its highest.
When friends and family want to get the same card, make sure to refer them for extra points if you can.
Stay away from using debit cards or cash, and instead put all your spending on your travel rewards credit card. Pay it off every month and watch the points add up!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
We recently flew Emirates Business Class aboard the Airbus A380 and had an amazing experience. We enjoyed ~$20,000 in free flights by transferring Starwood points to Japan Airlines for round-trip Emirates Business Class seats.
From the Emirates lounge, to the onboard bar, lie flat seats, and top-notch service, we could not have asked for a better travel experience! They even brought an entire cake to our seats because I was flying on my 30th birthday!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Our family and friends are fascinated by our free travels and enjoy following our adventures. Many of them have asked for advice and even started their own travels using miles and points. Some were skeptical at first and worried about things like credit scores.
Once they reviewed our blog and realized paying off these cards every month will actually improve their scores, they too decided to get on board.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
The biggest piece of advice we can give is to plan ahead and stay organized. Start by planning where and when you want to go in order find the credit card signup bonus that works best for your trip.
Once you start opening multiple credit cards it can get confusing keeping track of them all. And one of our most valuable tools is a Google spreadsheet that we update on a regular basis. It includes when we opened the card, the annual fee, cancellation date, miles or points earned, and any additional important information.
You also want to keep track of how many cards you and your spouse have opened in the past 24 months if you plan on utilizing any Chase cards.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
We were able to make student loan payments every month using a credit card, which helped us meet minimum spending quickly and rack up points. Unfortunately this is no longer possible, but we did get a couple good years of miles and points out of it!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Use your points or lose them. Reward programs are constantly being devalued and at times we’ve found out the hard way.
We spent months saving up Marriott points to book a hotel and air package and receive enough Southwest points to obtain another 2 years of the Southwest Companion Pass. Right before we booked they changed the rules and would not grant the Companion Pass based on these points.
Luckily, enough of us points and miles folks tweeted at Southwest and they extended the deadline out 3 months. But the trick no longer works, now.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
We have a four legged member of our Points Travelers family, a miniature dachshund named Cooper. He loves long walks on the beach, sunbathing by the pool and patrolling the backyard for lizards. We are still looking for a way to sign him up for The Platinum Card® from American Express. 😉
Any parting words?
Don’t get discouraged if you’re new to the points and miles world. You will learn and grow confidence in yourself and the process!
No matter how busy life gets, always make time for travel. Travel will increase your overall well-being and make you happier by breaking the routine, meeting new people, becoming more open-minded, building self confidence, and providing new experiences and memories for a lifetime.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Molly and Andrew – 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!