Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Awarding Canada
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I’ve been collecting miles since I was a kid. As a family, we traveled frequently to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. And being able to travel to Europe for free was always a curiosity. But I started getting seriously involved in the points and miles game at the end of my first year of law school in 2014.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog because I was bored at school (ha ha!). My award booking service was opened as a business idea where I received funding from the government.
My blog is special because it focuses on expert tips and tricks with points and miles. I talk about tricks that many other people don’t talk about, due to complexity or secrecy.
My award booking service focuses on Air Canada Aeroplan miles, which your readers might know is a rather complicated program!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Obviously, earning credit card sign-up bonuses over and again is still one of the best ways to earn miles, but I think there needs to be a focus on redeeming miles. There are tricks out there to redeem miles for a fraction of what you would normally pay. So if you learn those first, you’ll worry less about earning miles!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I’ve had so many, it’s hard to pick just one! I recently traveled on a Business Class mistake fare (~$80 ticket), and the airline refused to check me in!
I had to call the airline, fight with them to reissue the ticket, and I got checked in. When I went to board, a screen popped on the gate agent’s computer that said to deny me boarding! Fortunately, the agent didn’t look at his screen and let me on.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They think I’m a little crazy. But most of them are starting to get into the hobby, so clearly my craziness is rubbing off on them.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
It took me a while to appreciate the importance of developing social groups to discuss the hobby. The best secrets stay secret, so I would recommend finding some like-minded friends and starting a chat group to discuss topics and share secrets related to the hobby.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
This might be my favorite story. My partner is a points and miles geek too. For our wedding, he already knew what ring he wanted, and found it for cheaper than the store in the Skymall magazine (R.I.P). There was a promotion at the time, and we earned over 50,000 Marriott points, which at the time, was enough for basically any Ritz-Carlton hotel in the world!
It wasn’t a terribly expensive ring, and the points basically covered the cost of it!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
If you don’t get what you want from a telephone agent, hang up and call again!
When I started this hobby, I was turned down all the time and never fought it. But I learned that calling back until you get what you want almost always works.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m actually studying Air and Space law full time now as a graduate student, so this hobby isn’t a hobby anymore…it’s my life!
Any parting words?
I think that this hobby is sometimes too focused on extracting every cent of value from points and miles. Frankly, I think that’s a waste of time.
Life is too short to worry about value (unless you find maximizing value fun!), and it’s better to use points and miles for things that make you happy. There are so many adventures waiting out there, and you should always be moving toward the next adventure.
Avery – 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!