Why I Devoted My Life to the Points and Miles Game
September 12, 2016
The number one question I get asked by people that make the mistake of getting me started on points and miles and travel (not sorry) is "how do you know all of this?"
However, I can tell that's not really what they're asking. What they mean is "why in the blue hell would you spend time acquiring this knowledge you raving lunatic?"
I was lucky to travel from a very young age thanks to my parents. My mom was a travel agent before giving up her career to raise my brothers and me. My dad is a "memories" guy and would rather go on great trips than buy any single thing so he always put our trips at a premium over day to day material things. This combination afforded me the opportunity to visit some incredible places and throughout my entire life travel has been incredibly important for me both as an activity and a way to learn.
I have had loyalty program accounts since I was about 10. My parents never miss a point or a mile. I got it from them, you could say.
I was fortunate to be able to experience some very nice hotels in some killer destinations, but the whole time I knew one thing would continue to be an issue for me from the time I was very young until now:
How can I afford to do this when I start paying my own way?
Knowing that I did not want to settle for average travel, I knew I had to figure out a work around that would allow me to travel the way I wanted to.
That's why I learned all this stuff.
It started a few years ago when I got out of college and began researching credit cards. Through my parents I knew a pretty good amount about what the magic plastic was capable of, but I didn't understand the magnitude. I didn't realize how quickly and how easily I could earn enough points or miles to travel how I wanted to.
Once I got started I couldn't stop. It became an obsession for me. Not just the travel part and the options and the glitz and glamour that could be mine just by being smart, but it also was the investment side.
Every swipe of my credit card is a rebate for me. Once I realized that, I began avoiding paying cash at all costs. Say I spend $500 on a plane ticket. If I get 3 points per dollar with my Citi Prestige card, that's 1,500 points. At a generally accepted valuation of 1.6 cents per point, that's a rebate of about $20.
It's that combination of the two sides of my travel coin- I can travel far better than I could on my budget, and I also can save money on every purchase I make.
It's important for me that everyone understand why I expend the energy to do all this so no one thinks it's just a waste of time. Right now the generally accepted value of my entire point/mile reserve is a little north of $8,000, and much higher than that if I leverage my redemptions properly. I don't go out of my way to make this happen, I just do a little research.
If you follow this site and pay attention, you will be able to get the same kind of return for your spending.
Remember, I do not travel regularly. I do not spend exorbitant amounts of money.