“We Saw Wild Animals, Crossed Continents, & Traveled Like Ballers for a Fraction of the Cost”

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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:  Monkey Miles

Zachary is the voice and author of Monkey Miles.  He shares his knowledge about maximizing awards, benefits, and bonuses through his blog.  You can follow Zachary on Twitter and Instagram.  And you can follow Miles the Monkey on Twitter and Instagram, too!

Monkey Miles - Interview With Zachary
This Picture Is From Our England / Italy Trip.  My Mom Had Always Wanted to Go to Italy and Points / Great AARP Offers Made This Trip Incredible

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

My dad was an executive in corporate America so I was introduced to the value of points, status, etc. at a very early age.  He would earn top tier status with Northwest and Marriott almost every year.  My parents also own a few timeshares and that has provided an incredible value for point conversion.

Butttttt I’d say I officially went down the rabbit hole in 2012 and haven’t looked back.

Monkey Miles - Interview With Zachary
We Used the British Airways 100,000 Avios Points Credit Card Bonuses and a Buy-1-Get-1 Offer to Put My Parents in British Airways First Class Round-Trip to South Africa.  My Mom Refuses to Fly Any Other Way Now, and Has Been Racking Up Points to Feed Her New Premium Cabin Addiction

Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?

I started my blog because I was geeking out so hard my friends wouldn’t let it go and kept telling me I need to write about it.

I’m an actor with a finance degree.  My left and right brain are constantly battling.  The blog has created a lot of joy through writing.

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

Have the right credit cards.  It’s unreal what you can do just by optimizing spend.  You don’t have to use tricks or time-consuming techniques to best leverage your future experiences today…don’t carry a balance, pay it off people!

Monkey Miles - Interview With Zachary
My Best Friend Dave in an Etihad Business Studio on the Start of the Trip Around the World.  He Trusted Me to Apply for Lots of Cards and Organize Our Trip.  It Was Such a Great Feeling for It to All Come Together.  Obviously He Is Stylish Flossing Those Shades During Boarding.  LOL

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

My most memorable experience so far has to be my trip around the world.  My parents, my best friend, and I were all able to lie flat, see wild animals, cross continents, and basically travel like ballers for a fraction of the cost.

My mom had always wanted to go on safari and points made that dream not only a reality, but an incredible experience.

Monkey Miles - Interview With Zachary
This Is Miles on Safari.  He Couldn’t Believe We Were Within Feet of Sleeping Lions.  Good Thing He Kept Quiet

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

My friends and family love it because they’re always asking me what to do to max out their travel.  Although I will say they sometimes think I’m a little cray cray.

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

ITA Matrix makes searching so much easier.  BookwithMatrix is a dope site too that facilitates booking the deals found on ITA Matrix.

And then, the blogs.  I read Million Mile Secrets, The Points Guy, Travelsort, and obviously BoardingArea daily.  I also peek through Reddit and FlyerTalk …I believe they’d call me a lurker.

Monkey Miles - Interview With Zachary
This Picture Is From the Peninsula Suite in Bangkok.  My Friends and I Toured Asia a Few Years Back and Leveraged the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts Benefits to Land One of the Best Suites in the World.

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

Other than earning points and qualified nights on a couple all point Hyatt stays I WISH I could say I have randomly earned a ton of points, but I just haven’t.  I’ve strategized for almost all of my accumulation.

In my opinion, the best was the Citigold checking account 50,000 American Airlines miles sign-up.  I funded it with my Barclaycard Aviator credit card and walked away with a clean 75,000 American Airlines miles.  It also has reduced the annual fee on my Prestige card to $350.  YUUUUUUGE winner.

What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

The Chase 5/24 rule.  Seriously though, I just wish I would have started a long time ago with signing-up for the same credit cards more than once.  It’s such a huge piece of consumer leverage that we have with the banks.  I didn’t start until 2012.

I’ve always sought to maintain top tier credit and I wish I would have taken advantage of that credit and started rotating through cards years ago.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

That I’m not really a monkey, haha.  I’m an actor living in Los Angeles, California, who just loves travel.  I didn’t know if I wanted to really open up my life that much on a blog, but thought I had things to share.  Actors get a bad rap as being entitled, stupid, and flippant.  I didn’t want that weight really bearing down on the blog.

Ultimately, Miles came into existence when I thought it’d be a fun and creative way to tell a story and inform people.  I also think he allows for things to be quirky, fun, and off beat in a way that doesn’t conflate with my acting career.

Monkey Miles - Interview With Zachary
We Used a Lot of Points to Offset an Incredible Trip as a Family to India for a Wedding.  This Was a Great Shot of Us at the Taj Mahal

I also studied finance at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, before going into the entertainment business, and I think doing this blog feeds both my analytical and creative needs.  I love them both so much.

Miles has been such a fun way to narrate part of my life.

Any parting words?

You can’t get to where you want to be by staying where you are.  I’ve really tried to apply this attitude to my life, and it’s opened so many doors I never knew existed.  If you want to travel…choose a spot and go.  Do your research and then do it.

Trust and have faith, you’ll be so proud of yourself.

Zachary – 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!

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! :)

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