“It’s important to be cautious about monitoring your spending and paying your bills on time.”

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“It’s important to be cautious about monitoring your spending and paying your bills on time.”

Million Mile Secrets“It’s important to be cautious about monitoring your spending and paying your bills on time.”Million Mile Secrets Team

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: Point Travelers

Steven runs Point Travelers to lay out a step-by-step strategy to help you earn points and travel the world.

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started collecting miles and points back in 2011.  Capital One was heavily promoting their Venture card that gave 2 points for every dollar spent.  Although I wasn’t interested in travel at the time, I was interested in getting cash back.

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

I started my blog mainly for co-workers and friends.  2013 has been my big year for travel.  My wife and I went to Puerto Vallarta, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Baltimore.  People were wondering how we could afford so much traveling.

Point Travelers - Interview With Steven
Jordan and I at the Grand Mayan in Puerto Vallarta.

I tried to explain points/miles credit card sign up bonuses, but I could see the skepticism in their faces.  A lot of friend thought it was to good to be true.  My friends were telling me I was losing money because the credit cards were forcing me to spend more than necessary.

I wanted to setup a blog that would clearly show that the points game is not a scam.  I try to detail out every dollar I spend, all the points I earn, and what value I get from the points I earn.

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

I hate to state the obvious, but the easiest way to get more points and miles is through credit card sign-up bonuses.  If someone can tell me a better way of getting 50,000 Southwest miles by spending $2,000 on a credit card, please let me know!

Outside of credit card bonuses, I really like using Visa gift cards, Vanilla reloads, and Amazon payments as a way to earn points.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

I really enjoyed my hike up Rattlesnake Ledge in Seattle.  As a Christian, one of the joys of traveling for me is experiencing God’s creation.  The view at the top of Rattlesnake Ledge was awesome.

Point Travelers - Interview With Steven

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

My family members were definitely skeptics at first, and I’m pretty sure my mom called me crazy at one point.  She now has a AMEX Delta, Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, and Chase United.  She just called me last week to book her a flight from Detroit to New York with my points!  You’re welcome mom. 🙂

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

A lot of credit cards give bonus points on certain categories of business such as office stores, department stores, and restaurants.  Sometimes I am unsure what Visa might categorize a store.  I use the Visa merchant tool to look up stores to make sure I’m not missing out on points.

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

This might not be a way I earned points, but an unexpected way I stretched points.  A few months ago I was out in Seattle for business.  My company booked me one night in a premium room at the Westin, which is worth 12,000 points.

After the business trip had ended, I decided I wanted to stay in the city for two more nights.  I booked 2 nights in a non-premium room for 20,000 points.  I knew I had to switch rooms, but I thought I would try negotiating.

After speaking with the hotel clerk, I was able to stay in my premium room at the price of a standard room: only 10,000 points per night!  I didn’t even need to negotiate anything, all I did was ask if I could stay.  My wife and I were able to continue to enjoy our breath-taking view of Seattle while saving 4,000 points.

Point Travelers - Interview With Steven
Our view from the Westin Seattle.

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

Last year, I got the Chase Sapphire with a 50,000 point sign-up bonus.  Instead of transferring those points to an airline or hotel partner, I took cash back.  I got $500 cash when I could have gotten over $800 worth of travel.

So if traveling the world is your goal, never take cash back as the first option, chances are your points are worth more when you transfer them.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

As much as I enjoy collecting points and flying commercial, sometimes I get to fly private.  Jordan’s Grandpa is a pilot and owns a single engine plane.

Point Travelers - Interview With Steven

Any parting words?

Collecting points and miles with credit cards is great.  However, personal finance author Dave Ramsey often says, “We buy things we don’t need and can’t afford, in order to impress the people we don’t like.”  It’s important to be cautious about monitoring your spending and paying your bills on time.

I know people who have wisely said “no” to the credit card game because they know that they struggle with controlling their spending.

Steven – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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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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I love your articles, maybe I missed it because I have not read all articles but it is not clear how you can transfer miles from all these cards to one card. Thanks

Awesome advice about managing spend. I think this should be lesson 1 in all beginning lessons in the miles point game.

Flying and hoteling for free is the greatest thing since the invention of chocolate in our household. We still can’t believe it’s real although we’ve used about $10,000 worth of free travel in the last two years. In all this time we’ve only converted two other couples. One who is really gung ho and one couple who still have only dipped their toes in the pool.

Oh well!

This post was really insightful. I love collecting points for all kinds of things but I’m only now starting to collect points specifically for the intention of travel. It’s great to get free gas or groceries or merchandise but even better to get a flight completely on points.

Yeah…..it’s a lesson i’m learning the hard way. So far in my early career of points earning it has been very good to me. But I have had some trouble paying off all the cards each month. Slipped into debt. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great deal. A 20 dollar interest charge here and there is more than worth it, but you have to stay on top of it. Like chips at a Casino it’s so easy to think you have more money than what you do.