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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: Becky Travels The World
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I’ve been collecting miles and points for ~5 years. I got started with a Southwest Airlines card at the recommendation of a friend. She and I both were flying Southwest a lot. So she really thought I should get the card.
Once I earned the sign-up bonus, I was hooked! I began reading blog after blog (like Million Mile Secrets!) about travel credit cards. I have been getting new cards ever since. In these past 5 years I’ve earned over 2 million miles and points across multiple programs. I currently have a stash of 1.2 million miles & points.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I had started a blog a few years ago and was going to write about all sorts of topics including travel. Because I was working so much, I hadn’t written a blog post in almost 2 years. After some life changes at the end of 2017, I set a goal of traveling somewhere new every month in 2018.
I renamed my blog and made some changes to it so it could serve as a place for me to write about my monthly trips. My blog is special because it includes so much more than just information on credit cards. I do write about how I paid for the airfare and hotels. But I also provide information on what I did on each trip.
This includes things like getting around the city, the cost of activities, and dining options. I even cover the costs I incurred before leaving on the trip, like buying arctic weather gear to go to Alaska.
I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all miles, points and cash spent on my monthly trips. I’ll write a post at the end of the year with the final numbers. As a woman who travels alone quite often, the information in my blog will help other women who are considering solo travel.
It’s really important to me to be fully transparent about the true costs of travel. It’s also important to me to be honest when travel sucks, especially as a woman traveling alone.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Put away the cash and debit card! Everything should be paid for with a miles or points earning credit card. This includes monthly bills like cell phones and utilities, eating out, grocery shopping, gas, shopping trips to the mall, medical bills, and education expenses. I just paid my taxes with a new Hilton Honors American Express Business Card I needed to meet the spending requirement on.
If you’re not a big spender or don’t want to keep getting new card after new card, using even 1 card that earns miles or points value will add up over time.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Walking on the Great Wall of China is another experience I feel so lucky to have been able to have.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
It’s been a slow process getting people on board because they think it’s too good to be true. People worry about the effect multiple credit cards will have on their credit. I’ve tried to tell them my credit is actually better now. My boyfriend has gotten involved, but on a much smaller scale. His mom has 2 cards now, and a couple other friends have finally started getting cards.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
For me, the greatest tool for accumulating miles and points has been big sign-up bonuses. The bonuses are a fast way to amass a big stash of points with little work.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
My friend and I took a trip to Los Angeles for a day back in October 2016. We were in the airport waiting for our Southwest flight home. The agents at the gate were giving away 1,500 Southwest points for doing things like hula hooping and answering trivia questions. I showed off my amazing hula hooping skills in front of everyone at the gate and answered a question correctly! So I got 3,000 Southwest points! And yes, there are pictures!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I’ve learned not all miles & points are created equal. Some are really hard to redeem. Sometimes it feels like I’d have to wipe out all of my miles for a “free” flight and would still owe hundreds in fees. British Airways, I’m talking about you.
Some miles are definitely more valuable than others. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my absolute favorite to collect! Being able to transfer them to airline and hotel partners really increases their value.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’ve never flown in First Class or even Business Class. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to use such a large number of miles for a flight. I’m so cheap when it comes to using miles and points – I won’t even splurge on Premium Economy seats!
I want my miles to last as long as possible. I can get a couple coach flights for the price of 1 First Class seat! I also fear once I go First Class, I’ll never go back. Then I’d be out of miles in no time!
I have stayed in some great 5-star hotels, though!
Any parting words?
Travel! Don’t put it off if at all possible. Travel within your own state if that’s all you can do right now.
Travel alone if you can’t find a travel partner (solo travel is great for many reasons!). No matter how near or far just get out there and see this amazing world we live in. Oh, and get a travel rewards credit card!
Becky – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Big Travel with Small Money!