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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: Club Thrifty
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
We started collecting points and miles in 2011. We were mostly into maximizing cash back at first, but gradually began accruing travel rewards for the obvious benefits. Our first “free” flight was on Southwest and I still remember how exciting it was to pay nothing but airline taxes and fees.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
We started our blog to write about our personal interests – debt-free living, financial freedom, and travel.
Our blog is special for several reasons.
First, we blog as a husband and wife team, which is both fun and unusual.
Second, our website and the fact that I’m a freelance writer constitutes our entire livelihood – as in, we earn our entire living online. Since our website’s birth many years ago, we have turned it from a hobby into a thriving online business and the driving force behind my freelance endeavors.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Keep organized and sign-up for as many cards with bonuses as you can. Also, look for reasonable ways to boost your credit spending without sacrificing your other financial goals. I’m not very interested in “creative” ways to increase credit card spending so I have learned to maximize our credit spending with a little creative thinking instead.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
All of our best travel experiences are ones we have had with our children. They are only ages 5 and 7 now, and I love taking them new places and showing them new things. These new experiences don’t have to be spectacular or life-changing, either.
Most of my greatest memories with my children are actually beach days where we swam and played out in the sand and surf all day long. I love nothing more than spending some long days with them when we have absolutely nothing planned and nowhere to be.
Does it get any better than that?
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Most of my family members and friends are trying to emulate our travel rewards hobby to a certain degree, but there are those who aren’t all that interested. I think most people actually assume we pay for most of our travel since I don’t always share the details with everyone I know.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I use a credit card rewards spreadsheet to track my cards, sign-up dates, and rewards. I have found this immensely helpful as we have added more and more cards over the years. And since some cards allow you to earn a sign-up bonus every few years, it makes sense to keep an ongoing record of when you signed up for new cards, when you earned the sign-up bonus , and when you cancelled. It’s also helpful for keeping track of the annual fees that inevitably arise after the first year.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I have learned to use our businesses as a way to rack up additional points and miles. While this isn’t out of the ordinary, it was unexpected for me.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Over time, I have learned which rewards currencies are most valuable to my family. A lot of that depends on which airports you fly out of frequently, what type of travel experiences you enjoy most, and where you want to travel to. It can be difficult to know those things ahead of time, and most people learn quite a bit about themselves along the way.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
In addition to writing about frugality and points and miles on my own website, I also write and edit professionally all over the blogosphere. Not only am I a Contributing Editor for The Simple Dollar, but I also write credit and money columns for Personal Capital, Lending Tree, and other top authority sites.
Holly – 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!