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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: 10xTravel
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started somewhat by accident while in college. I was a senior at Ohio State and looking for ways to make Spring Break more affordable, which is easier said than done when you are hundreds of miles from any sort of beach.
So I took out my computer and Googled things like “how to travel for cheap”, “how to travel for free”, “how to get a free trip”, hoping to find some sort of opportunity to save money. I was looking for those opportunities you hear about where you can carry some last minute package, take pictures, or do a day of work, to receive a discount on travel.
Turns out those opportunities really don’t exist. So after about an hour of digging around online I gave up and started to prepare myself for another Spring Break at home.
From that point forward, every pop up ad I saw was for airline credit cards. All of them promising things like “50,000 points”, “2 free flights”, “Free Hotel Nights”, etc. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose and applied for one, hoping that it would allow me to go on Spring Break.
I was approved, jumped through the couple of hoops to earn the points, and ended up booking free flights from Ohio to Florida, Florida to Las Vegas, and Las Vegas home. All for just the ~$11 in taxes and fees. My friends thought that I started selling drugs and were constantly asking how I was able to do that.
And to be honest, I still wasn’t sure myself. I started to question why I wouldn’t just open a credit card every time I wanted to take a trip. So I Googled “open credit cards to earn bonus frequent flyer miles”, stumbled across the multitude of blogs in the space, and the rest is history.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
10xTravel also was started somewhat by accident. I hated writing (still not a huge fan), and never saw myself becoming a blogger.
But as I got more and more in to the world of miles & points, I discovered that I could no longer go out socially and not be asked about it. Every party I attended turned in to a Q&A for how I am able to travel so much while paying so little.
So I decided to write a master email that I would just forward to anyone who asked about it. That way I could just pass it around and not have to spend my weekends talking shop at parties. I kept adding to that email to address FAQ’s and eventually decided to make it in to an eBook. Then I started blogging to promote that eBook, and things just took off from there.
As for how we are different, I always say that we keep things simple. We focus less on the more advanced aspects of miles & points, and try to make it an approachable subject for anyone who stumbles on to our site. We also touch on a number of related topics like entrepreneurship, side hustles, and personal finance.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Open new credit cards. Nothing else is even close.
I’m always puzzled by the people who spend hours optimizing their credit card spending or signing-up for dining programs to earn a measly few thousand miles but refuse to jump on the opportunities to earn 50,000+ miles at once.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I would have to say a trip to Thailand with my wife last summer. We spent 2 weeks there and just had a blast each and every day.
That was also one of my first experiences with truly premium air travel, flying First Class on a 787 to get there. We also were able to stay at some pretty swanky hotels using points. I actually detailed every part of my trip, including how I booked them, in this mega post.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Many of them have joined in on the fun, but there is still a large contingent of people who think I’m nuts. They liken the points hobby to extreme couponing, and assume that it takes a large time commitment in order to succeed. Many of them are also unable to get past the mindset of “credit cards = bad”.
But those who have dived in head first have been able to achieve life-changing results. I can’t scroll through Facebook or Instagram anymore without seeing at least one friend who is traveling in some exotic place thanks to miles & points.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
It’s hard to choose one particular tool or trick, because things can change so quickly in this hobby. But I think the mindset of keeping things simple is key.
Don’t worry about choosing the perfect card to buy your morning cup of coffee, or carrying 20 credit cards in your pocket at all times. Just focus on the big wins and you’ll achieve 85% of the results.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I would have to say by blogging. One of the many benefits of having a miles & points blog is that you spend a good deal of money on advertising and other business expenses. Pair that with being able to get most major business credit cards and you have a recipe for lots of points earning.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I knew the importance of having a diversified set of miles to choose from. Like most people, I fell in to “first redemption love” with the first type of points I ever used. Which was Southwest.
I ignored all other programs to try to get more Southwest points, and ended up missing out on some amazing deals.
So I would encourage others to keep their eyes open and listen to the experts. You may have never heard of some of the more niche types of points but having them available might be huge for making your next trip happen.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m an identical twin! I have a twin brother who lives in Austin, Texas, and looks so much like me that he could easily fool most of my readers. In fact, he regularly gets approached in airports by people who mistake him as me.
So if you happen to see “me” in an airport, make sure to ask before diving in to a conversation about miles & points!
Any parting words?
Just sit back and enjoy the ride! Sometimes people in this hobby can be downright nasty to others because they think that our hobby is a zero-sum game. And while that may be partially true, everyone was new to this at some point.
At the end of the day, we are all able to travel all over the world at a fraction of the cost thanks to the wonderful world of miles & points. Take a moment to enjoy that.
Bryce – 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!