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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: Encore
Rich writes Encore to help readers learn tricks to traveling the world with miles & points.
And he’s giving away a $25 Amazon gift card.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I feel as though I happened into the points game by accident. I took my 1st trip overseas to Europe as part of an international choir tour trip with my college, and knew then that I needed to sign-up to get the miles.
I applied for my 1st miles card (through British Airways) and made nearly 150,000 miles by maximizing dining miles with all my college friends and activities. I was hooked!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog initially to help my family and friends keep up with where I was traveling and the places I was going. It has evolved to include changes happening in the miles and points game, and I love sharing that information whenever possible.
I work hard to add a personal touch to every post and give my opinion whenever possible. I’ve always appreciated a “layman’s” perspective on the game since there are so many professional bloggers out there giving out information. The more personal I can make it, the better.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
If you’re using your credit card, you should have a miles and points card. It’s 1 of the easiest ways to collect miles, and you can do it for all of the daily things in your routine (grocery, fuel, food). Since you’re going to swipe anyway, you might as well get miles for it!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
It had always been a personal desire to travel with my grandparents to Germany. They started taking transatlantic trips when I was still very young, to work on our family genealogy and visit friends.
They started taking transatlantic trips when I was still very young, to work on our family genealogy and visit friends. During 1 trip they were even stopped by the Russian military in eastern Germany and Poland before the wall fell, trying to visit a cemetery to find a relative!
I was able to realize this trip experience with the help of points and miles, and it even gave them the chance to experience a new country they had never visited. Our trip was memorable in these ways:
- Their 1st visit to England and London
- Train travel throughout Germany
- Flying together and visiting all their German friends from the Black Sea to the south
It was fun to hear them say how easy it was to use the train and that they should have tried it sooner rather than always renting cars. I can’t wait for another opportunity to travel with them.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My family is always asking where I’m going to go next, so many possibilities when you have the miles to go!
Mom and dad still marvel at how many miles I can accrue in such a short time. I’m working hard to get them comfortable with a miles earning card so they can travel when they retire.
And I’m proud to have shared some of my successes with friends. A sign-up, referral, and bonus points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card helped 1 friend plan a honeymoon trip to Hawaii. They now love 1st Friday dining for bonus points!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
The KVS tool has been handy for reference on flight bookings. And I heartily recommend using Kayak and the ITA Software to do most bookings. For points accrual, I can’t beat the Chase Ink Bold for most expense purchases. It has great earning categories.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
My 1st credit card ever was a Gateway card to purchase a computer. If only I would have secured a points card instead! I bought a lot of computer equipment growing up and I could have earned a ton of miles.
In retrospect, I find myself now more in-tune to what the benefits of each individual credit card offer. That has really helped to shape how I manage my spending and miles accrual. It’s much easier for me to save up for special trips and experiences.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Most readers would probably be surprised to know that I am a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. I have over 10 audio album credits as a producer and engineer. I’ve also worked as a producer and on-air news anchor for 1 of the largest radio stations in the Midwest.
My goal is to someday live and work in central Europe, preferably Switzerland.
In my free time I’m an avid stamp collector. I got started in the 3rd grade and haven’t stopped since.
Any parting words?
Credit card bonuses aren’t the only way to get points, you can find ways to earn just through everyday shopping and spending.
The miles and points game may seem daunting, but it’s actually very rewarding once you understand how each part fits in your portfolio.
I find a lot of satisfaction helping out family and friends who may be new to the game and want to travel the world in the most cost-effective way possible. They may not be frequent fliers, but they know the value of having miles and using them for trips.
Rich – 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!