“Hoarding Points Seems Like a Lot of Fun…but Avoid the Temptation!”
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Wallet Hacks
Jim writes Wallet Hacks to give folks tips for achieving financial independence.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points years ago after moving to Baltimore, home to an airport with lots of Southwest flights.
I’d say 99% of my domestic flights are on Southwest, so I wanted to learn how my loyalty could be rewarded. That led to becoming savvier about the different airline programs.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?Wallet Hacks is actually my 2nd personal finance blog. After a few years off, I decided I wanted to get back on the horse and share my thoughts about money management, investing, living a much richer life, and achieving financial freedom. I love to travel, but don’t want to spend a ton of money to get to new destinations. So having a good credit history to take advantage of travel rewards is crucial because I love to travel. But I don’t want to spend a ton of money to get to places!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
I believe knowledge is extremely powerful and knowing good resources, like Million Mile Secrets, is helpful.
Promotions change. Programs change. If you know where to get good information and learn how to analyze different programs and promotions, you will know the most efficient way to earn more miles and points.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
My wife and I spent nearly 4 weeks traveling around Europe right before she started working towards her Ph.D.
We went everywhere from the UK, to Germany, to Cinque Terre, Italy. The most memorable part of that trip was taking the scenic train in the Swiss Alps – absolutely amazing views.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They love it! I get to be half guinea pig, half filter on a lot of new things and keep them up to date.
Sometimes the programs can be complicated and just one mistake can drastically reduce the value of your points. So people like having me help guide them through the right order and timing of things.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Sometimes I feel like my engineering background has helped me because my favorite tool is just a spreadsheet.Keeping things straight on paper means you don’t have to keep track of them in your head. It also means you’re less likely to miss deadlines!
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?The different partnerships some airline and hotel programs have.
For example, Southwest (and many others) have a dining program where you link your credit cards and earn points when you eat at participating restaurants.
We also earned points by signing-up with an electricity supplier that was cheaper than our existing one! Double win!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?Hoarding points seems like a lot of fun, everyone loves big numbers, but avoid the temptation!
They can and will get devalued over time. It’s nothing nefarious, inflation is a real thing in the real world – and it exists in the travel points and miles world too.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m relatively frugal when I’m at home. But I throw that out the window whenever I travel.I feel like life is a series of trade-offs and by saving money at home, I can spend more when I’m on vacation. I still try to get where I’m going for less, usually through points and rewards. But when I’m there I’m indulging.
Any parting words?Never give up the thirst for knowledge, that’s what separates the folks who succeed and the ones who complain about their lot in life.
If sites like Million Mile Secrets have taught us anything it’s that you don’t need to spend a ton to live an extravagant travel lifestyle, if you are prudent, clever, and hard-working enough.Jim – 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!
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)