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Million Mile Secrets team member Joseph is about to have his 3rd anniversary as a miles & points credit cardholder. And his 5th anniversary as a miles & points fanatic! But he says it’s not as easy convincing others to jump onto the wagon. I asked him to share his thoughts on why that may be.
Joseph: I would estimate that within a week of discovering miles & points, I was 100% sold. And every day since then, discovery has been a blast. But many of my friends and family are harder to convert than I was!
It’s difficult to understand why. Anyone searching the internet for how to travel for cheaply is bound to run across miles & points! So why haven’t more folks joined this hobby?
I’ll tell you why many people aren’t collecting miles & points. And give you some advice if you fall into those categories!
Why Doesn’t Everyone Collect Miles & Points?
My first-ever international trip was to Jerusalem 9 years ago. Before that first trip, I had NO desire for travel. My family practically had to drag me there!
That was my first culture shock. And the time I realized the world was actually AWESOME.
After my second trip to Israel in 2012, I began scheming ways to return for a third time. I was a poor college student, so I began Googling things like “how to fly for free,” “travel to Israel for cheap,” etc. And I fell hard into a miles & points hole.
I didn’t sign-up for a miles & points credit card for another 2 years, though. I had NO credit history because I had avoided credit cards. My principle was if I ever needed credit, the banks would be so impressed with my history of never needing to borrow money that they’d enthusiastically drown me in credit.
I had no idea that a credit history was a fundamental part of opening credit cards. So I had to wait ~2 years to get into the hobby. I would have started immediately if I could have. But it got me thinking why so many of my friends and family are hesitant to do the same!
Here are my 3 main theories as to why more folks aren’t invested in miles & points.
1. Credit Cards Are Scary
Here’s the thing – credit cards can be scary. If they’re in the wrong hands.
Lots of folks don’t apply for credit cards because they’re afraid of what it will do to their credit score. But the fact is, applying for credit cards will NOT ruin your credit score. But misusing the credit cards you open by missing payments or keeping large balances can hurt your score.
Remember, some credit cards (especially travel rewards cards) can have very high interest rates. So if you keep a balance on your cards, those balances can spiral out of control if you don’t pay them in full each month.
2. It Looks Too Good to Be True
Million Mile Secrets loves to share our own stories and reader stories about saving thousands of dollars on travel with miles & points to inspire readers.
But some folks might be put off by the seemingly impossible stories we tell! There’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all. Right?
My grandpa is more willing to sign-up for a Home Depot credit card at check-out to save 20% on his pack of light bulbs than he is to sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which comes with a sign-up bonus worth at LEAST $500 after meeting minimum spending. Because $500 for such little effort doesn’t sound real!
Everything we say on the blog is true. But we usually like to feature stories that are exceptional.
So if you’re starting out in this hobby, you might NOT get $5,000 in travel from your first credit card sign-up bonus. Because it takes effort, experience, and a few mistakes to learn how to make the most of your miles & points!
I like to brag about the free flights I’ve booked that would have otherwise cost thousands of dollars. But I do NOT usually brag about how miles & points save me money for things like visiting friends in Sacramento, catching a fun event in Chicago, or attending a wedding in Tampa. I suspect I would have more converts if I talked about how have miles & points saved me LESS money. Because it sounds more believable!
3. There’s Too Much Information
There’s a lot of miles & points instruction out there, and it can be intimidating! Transfer partners, hotel categories, airline award charts, and credit card benefits all take time to learn.
I was fascinated by the sweet spots and loopholes folks figured out to get the most value from their miles & points. I read for hours every day after work for years. It was a hobby I treated like a second job.
There are lots of advanced frequent flyer terms and techniques. Some FlyerTalk threads can be like reading a different language for a newbie (I STILL have to figure out an abbreviation now and then). And that can turn off lots of folks!
Just remember, miles & points are as difficult as you make them. If you’re concerned about getting the highest value per point, then you’ll need to study. But if you want a free (or heavily discounted) flight to dad’s house for a holiday, that takes barely any research!
Check out the top 10 easiest awards to book in 2017.
Usually, when I tell someone about miles & points, they politely act interested and ask a couple follow-up questions. But I can tell when they hear a buzzword that causes them to mentally check-out. Whether it’s saving an unrealistic amount of money, signing-up for multiple credit cards, or something else!
There are plenty of folks out there who are nervous to dip their toe into miles & points. Why do you think they aren’t playing the game?