“Then the Memorable Volcano Eruption in Iceland Happened”

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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:   The Broke Professional

Syed started The Broke Professional to help other young professionals get out of debt and build a positive net worth.

The Broke Professional - Interview With Syed
My Wife and I on Vacation

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started in 2009 when I graduated and finally had some money after being a student for what seemed like forever.  I was solely using a BP gas credit card.  I figured I was pretty smart since I have to spend money on gas anyway, why not get some cash back on it?

I then started seeing commercials for the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card which had a 50,000 sign-up bonus at the time.  It also gave bonus points for gas and groceries so I figured I’d give it a shot.  That was my 1st real travel rewards card and I was hooked from there.

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

I started blogging at The Broke Professional in August 2013.  I followed a bunch of different personal finance blogs and felt it was time to share my thoughts as well.  Personal finance has been something I’ve been very interested in ever since I graduated, so it was pretty easy to just start writing.

I’m still learning the ins and outs of blogging and I have a long way to go, but it has been an enjoyable process.  Besides the actual blogging, it has been great interacting with other bloggers and getting their advice on various topics.

The Broke Professional - Interview With Syed
My Son and I at a Little Retreat in Virginia

My website is mainly a personal finance blog focusing on the issues facing young professionals.  I graduated from optometry school in 2009 and knew next to nothing about finances.  I started reading every chance I got and realized that there are probably a lot of other young graduates who were like me.

Though it is mainly a personal finance site, I feel traveling with miles and points fits nicely in the lives of young professionals because many are in debt and would still like to travel so learning even just the basics about traveling with points can be a big help.

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

Use credit cards regularly, wisely, and look out for great sign-up bonuses.

This is pretty obvious for seasoned users of miles and points but it is something that is lost on the majority of people.  There are lots of other things to consider along the way such as annual fees, credit scores, etc.  But the best thing you can do is get some quality credit cards with great sign-up bonuses.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Most definitely our honeymoon to Jamaica in 2010.  We originally planned to go to Ireland.  The tickets and itinerary were booked and ready to go.

The Broke Professional - Interview With Syed
My Wife Sophia and I in Jamaica

Then the memorable volcano eruption in Iceland in 2010 happened, just a week before we were supposed to leave.  It grounded many flights throughout Europe, including ours.  After getting over the initial disappointment, my wife and I decided we just wanted a nice relaxing vacation.

After a little scrambling we found a great all-inclusive deal to Jamaica which was indeed the most relaxing week of our life.

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

Most of them don’t really get it, even after I explain it to them step-by-step.  I think most people associate miles with traveling a lot for business and things like that.

Some family and friends are willing to learn, but I noticed most are dismissive at 1st glance which is disappointing.  There are some really lucrative offers out there for people with decent credit scores.

The Broke Professional - Interview With Syed
My Wife Sophia Rowing a Raft in Jamaica

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

Until last week, Vanilla Reload Cards.  The fact that you could buy them with credit cards added a whole new dimension to collecting miles and points.

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

We had an issue with a United flight which promised they would have changing tables for our 6 month old boy but they ended up not having any.

It definitely made the flight tougher, so I contacted customer service and they credited me 15,000 United miles.  That was a nice bonus, but I wouldn’t want to travel cross country with an infant and no changing table again!

The Broke Professional - Interview With Syed
Our Hotel Room View in Mexico

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

Collecting lots of points is great, but it is also important to use them effectively.

My 1st AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card I mentioned before?  I used almost all the points for gift cards.  Though it was cool dining out for free, I would’ve been better off transferring them to some airline partners and saving lots of money on future flights.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I am fiercely loyal to my 2 favorite sports teams: the New York Knicks and the New York Giants.  The 2 recent Super Bowl wins by the Giants are something I will never forget.  I am still waiting for the Knicks to win in my lifetime.

Any parting words?

Traveling cheap and tax free with miles and points beats paying thousands of dollars of your hard earned money after taxes to travel.  This makes it definitely worth it to learn how the miles game works.

Syed  – 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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