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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: Debt RoundUp
Grayson started Debt RoundUp to help readers get out of debt.
He’s also giving away $50 in cash via Paypal!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started earning and collecting miles and points about 2 years ago. It was after I had worked for years to pay off credit card debt. During the process of paying it off, I realized I was using the cards all wrong.
I needed to have them work for me. I changed my spending habits and learned about credit card rewards. My 1st card was the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. I have since moved to other ones.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog, Debt Roundup, as a way to chronicle what I learned from getting out of credit card debt. I knew there were many others like me who could use what I had learned. Since I have a personal finance blog, it is hard to say it is different.
There are only so many ways you can spin personal finance topics. What makes it special to me and my readers is I show them what I am doing. I experiment with my money and show people that credit card debt doesn’t have to define you.
I have moved on from the debt and still use credit cards for every purchase. I haven’t paid a dime in interest since paying them off and I have earned some quality rewards.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
I would have to say credit card sign-up bonuses.
I recently got 40,000 miles, but you can now get 50,000 miles for signing-up for the Barclays US Airways card. I know it’s going away and consolidating, but why not use it now?
I was previously afraid to start applying for lots of cards for their sign-up bonuses, as I thought it would damage my credit. After a few rounds of applications, I realized it didn’t affect my score nearly as much.
Credit card issuers constantly come with new sign-up bonuses and new card variants. They know the reward industry is big, so always pay attention to new cards from issuers.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
My favorite and most memorable trip was a cruise to Alaska where my wife and I mountain biked to a glacier and enjoyed a beautiful Alaska day in front of a little lake developed by ice melt.
We both love the outdoors, so that trip has always stuck in my mind.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
At 1st my friends and family thought I was crazy. I spent 4 years paying off credit card debt and now I was using them again to earn rewards.
I assured them of my new-found spending prowess. After I earned enough rewards for a free round-trip flight and hotel, they changed their mind and wanted to know how to do the same.
It took my wife a little longer to warm up to the idea, but that is because she saw what credit card debt did to me. As she watched me handle my spending while earning rewards, she understood I had changed and is now using her own rewards card.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
The best tool I have is to follow blogs like Million Mile Secrets and many others. There are so many opportunities to earn miles that I don’t have time to research. When I can get a great tip sent right to my inbox, then it makes my life easier.
I never knew how many miles and points promotions were out there until I started earing rewards. People are travel hacking to get more points, and about a million other things.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I found a way to send my wife money with my Amazon Payments account and use my rewards card. While it never generated a lot of points, it was a great help in reaching the different minimum spending requirements for new sign-up bonuses.
Of course Amazon Payments is no longer available so this deal is dead, but it was great to use and I had no idea I could do it.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I have learned signing-up for lots of credit cards is much easier than I originally thought. I always had the impression that opening and closing accounts on a regular basis can wreck your credit score. Over time, I realized this is NOT so true.
Your score can drop a few points for each credit card application, but if you handle credit responsibly, then your score will quickly bounce back. I have talked with a few people who had their scores go up, but I have not had it happen to me.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I am and have been an avid home brewer for years. I got the home brewing itch some time ago when I started tasting some friend’s beer. I’ve always been a beer aficionado, so home brewing was just something I wanted to try.
Over time, I have learned new tricks and my goal is to open my own microbrewery. It will take time and a lot of money, but I am slowly starting to build up money for equipment and perfecting my own recipes.
Any parting words?
I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your great community. Though I am relatively new to credit card rewards and travel hacking, I’m hooked. It’s a goal of mine to earn enough rewards over time to equal the amount of interest I paid to the credit card companies when I was in debt.
Along with my 1st blog, I started another 1 called Sprout Wealth, which allows myself and my blogging partner to talk more about credit card rewards, growing wealth, and investing. It is not debt focused and a place to provide information for those looking to earn more money and rewards!
Grayson – 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!