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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: Travel the Globe 4 Less
Anne blogs Travel the Globe 4 Less to share tips on how to earn airline and hotel rewards so that readers can indulge in more affordable luxury travel. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting airline miles around 7 years ago but became a serious points and miles enthusiast in 2013 when a friend introduced me to the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card (available in the UK). This card offers a companion voucher to anyone spending 10,000+ pounds in a year, not to mention an attractive sign up bonus of 25,000 British Airways Avios points
Now, I know this is a paltry amount of miles in comparison to the incredible sign-up offers you get across the pond, but this is one of the best sign-up bonuses in the UK. Using the companion voucher, referring friends, and spending on the card has allowed me to hugely ramp up my miles and fly Business Class for less than coach. This may not sound impressive to those based in the US, but those flights you guys can book for around $5 in taxes, are the thing of dreams in the UK.
Our taxes are ridiculously high, and I do not think it is worthwhile redeeming miles for coach other than in Europe where flat fees apply.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog because I could find little information in the UK explaining how to earn more airline miles. I figured if I was going to spend loads of time researching tons of ways to earn miles, I may as well share that knowledge with others who might want to do the same.
I also wanted to dispel the myths around airline miles in the UK. Everyone assumes that the only way to earn miles is via flying, and obviously that helps, but in fact credit cards are the best way to earn, if you don’t happen to fly regularly for Business Class.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Without a doubt, it has to be sensible use of credit cards. It is much harder to earn miles in the UK, so it pays to get savvy with cards. I now habitually take out cards, satisfy the minimum spend, refer my husband to get the referral points, then re-evaluate my wallet to decide what can stay and what can go. He then does the same thing, and so the cycle goes.
This is how I earned 332,000 miles without taking a flight.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
OMG, this is virtually impossible to answer. There have been so many amazing experiences, from skydiving in New Zealand to diving with hammerheads in Egypt, flying to New York on Concorde, kayaking with dolphins in Florida, and numerous other memories. Flying Business Class for the first time was also pretty special!!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Other than my husband, who is quite happy for me to slave away figuring out ways to earn more miles, as he benefits from my obsession, I suspect the rest think I am bonkers. Most people I talk to in the UK consider miles & points too much effort, but it is really just a case of working out a strategy.
Plus, I am from Yorkshire, and we have a reputation for being ‘careful’ with our money. If I can save thousands on a First Class flight, I am happy to make an effort.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record – credit cards. But be sure to earn miles and burn them. Loyalty does not pay in this game!
Also, an Excel spreadsheet to manage multiple cards, keep track of payment dates, and determine when you are next eligible to reapply for a card is a must, unless you want to age rapidly.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Referrals. I missed a trick for the first few years, by not mentioning the cards to friends and family. In the last month alone, we have earned over 50,000 points from referrals so it pays to talk about the cards.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
The value of credit cards. Initially I started out with the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card, retained the same card, and paid the annual fee each year.
I eventually came up with a different plan, where my husband and I could earn sign-up bonuses, referral bonuses, and companion vouchers while not paying the full annual fee.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
That I do not travel full-time! Most of my friends have the perception that I never work, but sadly that isn’t true.
By day, I work as an Investment Director for a UK firm… after all, I need to pay for my travel obsession. My blog usually takes back seat until the weekend when my husband is off playing football.
Any parting words?
Shameless plug! If you are in the UK, and think this all sounds very complicated, I encourage you to check out my post on using miles & points like an expert, and get in touch if you have any queries.
Anne – 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!