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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Dovertime
Kyle runs dovertime to help ordinary people achieve their extraordinary travel goals.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
My dad signed me up for a frequent flier account on our first trip to Hawaii. When I turned 18 I got my Alaska Airlines Visa credit card and the rest was history! I learned valuable lessons from my parents about paying the credit card balance in full each month.
I’ve treated my credit card like a bank account, closely monitoring my spending and never charging more than I could pay at the end of each month. With that said, after I turned 18, EVERY purchase went on this credit card!
I chose to go to a school cross-country and traveling back and forth definitely helped. I also held a position in college that required me to travel frequently.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I have been earning and burning miles for years and have helped numerous friends and family members sign up for credit cards to fund their epic travel adventures. After much deliberation and many conversations with my wife, I launched Dovertime!
I would’ve started a blog long before but I couldn’t think of catchy name. I was in my car en route to a client’s office when I read the license plate of the car in front of me; REXPRT. I started thinking about names that work with Dover and Dovertime hit me like a freight train. It was perfect!
Dovertime showcases great photography and lots of number crunching! I like big, bright, in your face photos! Photography is an important part of my life and I believe that powerful photos stir up excitement about destinations.
I’m a numbers guy at heart and am always trying to provide tips to get the most value out of your points and miles!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Seeing people use cash leaves me #SMH (shaking my head)…. Start thinking outside the box! People need to get in the mindset that every single purchase needs to be made on a credit card!
Once you realize that every purchase can be made with a credit card, then figure out how to maximize your rate of return. For instance, some points earning credit cards may earn 2x points on gas purchases. But you may have another credit card that earns 5x points at a place where you can purchase gas gift cards.
One credit card may earn 3x points for booking flights, but another one might give you 2x points for travel plus 2x points through a shopping portal. Give up the greenbacks and embrace the plastic for everyday spending.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
My honeymoon in the fall of 2012 was insanely cool. I thought that my points and miles would take my wife and I to Tahiti or The Maldives for a week. I was flat out wrong! Instead, we chose to road trip the USA!
I completed a major app-o-rama to earn serious hotel points. I then landed 15,000 Hertz points at a fraction of the cost during the Daily Getaways promotion by American Express.
With all of the points and miles we flew from Oregon to Connecticut, rented four different cars over three and a half weeks and flew back from Florida. We stayed in amazing hotels every night for free. We visited fifteen States along the East Coast. And we drove Mercedes SUV’s and Chevrolet Corvette Convertibles!
Could we have done this without points and miles? Absolutely! But it would’ve put an extreme dent in our savings account or we might not have been able to stay in Park Hyatts! Air miles and hotel points allowed us to complete an amazing honeymoon without having to sacrifice anything.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
It took me awhile to warm my wife up to the wonderful world of miles & points. But after a suite at the Park Hyatt DC and cruising to Key West with the top down in a Corvette, she got the picture.
I’ve had people raise eyebrows about my credit card applications or my creative spending techniques. They don’t want to spend the time or effort maintaining a stellar credit score or keeping track of everything!
The vast majority of my friends and family really support the madness. People are eager to learn innovative ways to capitalize on this amazing world. And I’m happy to help them!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Oftentimes I cannot find award space for flights. I pay for plenty of flights and I always visit ITA Software to search for flights. Their matrix is truly great and there are so many options to generate the results you want. When you can’t find an award ticket, I would definitely make ITA Software your first website to search for airfare.
From a points side, I think shopping portals are extremely valuable. They essentially allow you to earn bonus points for items you plan on purchasing any way! I always am asking myself, “Can I purchase this online rather than in a store?”
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
During our honeymoon I took advantage of a Hyatt Diamond Challenge. Doing so granted us Hyatt Diamond Status for a two-month period. I booked many Hyatt nights during the honeymoon on points.
I had also signed up for the quarterly promotion offered by Hyatt. Somehow, we ended up scoring an upwards of 40,000 additional points during the honeymoon and Platinum status WITH NO PAID STAYS.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Since I turned 18, I have always had a credit card. I just wish I would’ve known that credit card applications only temporarily affect my credit score. I would’ve signed up for many more credit cards at this point in my life.
I also wish I would’ve put more emphasis on hotel points. I should’ve known that someday staying on Aerobeds or pull out couches wasn’t going to cut it!
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I honestly don’t travel as much as I’d like. When you live in an awesome place like Bend, Oregon, you think twice about leaving. Trying to coordinate vacation time with my wife’s job makes for tough travel planning.
Any parting words?
Follow travel blogs like Million Mile Secrets and Dovertime to help learn tricks to earn miles. Let us do the dirty work and teach you which products we believe are the most valuable. Use social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date on deals. Leave us comments on our blog posts and interact with us.
But most of all – HAVE FUN! This hobby is meant to be fun. Whether you burn your points at Park Hyatts across the globe or at a local Super 8, I care not! You are the only judge of the value you’re getting out of your points!
Kyle – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!