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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: Points to Neverland
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
We went to Disney World for our honeymoon in the fall of 2003. We had a blast. The combination of marital bliss and the magic of Disney made that week one of the best of our lives. We became Disney parks fanatics, and upon our return home, we immediately started talking about when we could go again.
While fun and memorable, trips to Disney World and Disneyland are also so very expensive. Rather than letting our budget keep us at home, we got our very first rewards card – the Disney® Visa® Card.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
The Disney Visa has some great perks, but it’s a slow way to earn rewards. We were only able to afford a Disney vacation every few years. For Disney Parks addicts, that’s an eternity. So, we started spending a lot of time reading all the great travel blogs out there, like Million Mile Secrets (are there others?).
We learned a ton about using rewards for travel in general, and applied our knowledge to find the best ways to save on Disney vacations. Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be a good site devoted to using rewards on Disney vacations. In April, 2016 we started Points to Neverland to help fill that need.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
We often say there’s no perfect credit card, but you can have a nearly perfect wallet. There’s so much you can achieve when you have rewards cards with complimentary category bonuses. One rewards card might be great for travel and dining purchases, while another gives you bonuses on your cell phone and internet expenses.
Think about the areas where you spend most of your budget, and build your overall rewards strategy around it.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Erin and I are foster parents. Our foster daughter always talked about wanting to visit Hawaii. Miles and points helped make it possible for us to take her to Aulani, Disney’s resort on Oahu. It’s a beautiful resort with a lazy river, slides, and most importantly for tired parents – world-class childcare.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
For our parents, it’s the equivalent of having someone who knows how to work the remote control. Have you ever spent 30 minutes on the phone helping your parents set up a Gmail account? Helping them combine their Chase Ultimate Rewards points is basically the same.
Love you mom and dad!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
If you’ve built a collection of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, book a Disney Vacation Package through the Chase Travel Portal with your Chase Sapphire Reserve (you’ll have to call 855-234-2542 to book). You’ll get good value for your points (1.5 cents each). And it’s a great way to cover your park tickets with points.
You can even include the dining plan and pay for your food too! We cover the details on our site if you want to learn more.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
The newest trend in mobile pay bonus categories we didn’t see coming. Between the Chase Freedom bonus categories this quarter and all the 10X Chase Ultimate Rewards points Chase Pay bonuses out there right now, we’re earning a ton of points we never planned to earn.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
We were very scared to have more than 1 to 2 credit cards. We thought it would damage our credit. We now have over a dozen between us and our credit scores are higher than when we started.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I work for a humanitarian aid organization. Given our love for Disney Parks, that usually surprises people.
When you asked about my most memorable travel experience, my first thought was the time I spent in Darfur. Some of the most hospitable people in the world live in Darfur.
Any parting words?
Thanks for having me! Million Mile Secrets is a go-to site for so many people. This has been fun for me as a reader and a fan.
Mark & Erin – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Big Travel with Small Money!
If you’d like to be considered for our interview series, please send me a note!