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Million Mile Secrets Feature: How I Learned to Travel for Free

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This weekend our Miles and Points Success story was featured on Million Mile Secrets!  I’ve always been a big fan of Million Mile Secrets.  They were one of the first travel blogs I started reading. They helped me learn how to travel with points.  Before being featured, I answered all of their Interview Series questions with the hopes of getting it featured on their website.  Unfortunately, it turns out they’re not currently featuring those interviews. Instead of wasting all my answers, I figured I’ll share them here on Travel Freedom!  So, here are my answers to the interview series questions from Million Mile Secrets travel blog.

 

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

-Million Mile Secrets

It all started with a root canal.  When I saw the jaw-dropping price of my dreaded root canal in 2012, I quickly started looking for a way to make some of that money back.  While searching the internet for credit cards that offered cash signup bonuses, I came across a travel blog that caught my interest. It was the one and only Million Mile Secrets and it’s intriguing author Daraius, who explained to me, how I could get much more value by earning travel points instead of cash.  

 

I had never done as much traveling as I’d wanted to do, simply because it was so extremely expensive, and I didn’t make much money following college.  I jumped at the opportunity and applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, and I’ve never looked back! I’m now twenty-six credit card approvals deep, have earned nearly 2 MILLION miles, and have saved tens of thousands of dollars.  That’s not even the best part of it! I’ve had the chance to experience places and activities that otherwise, I would not have been able to experience. The world of miles and points has changed my life!

 

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

-Million Mile Secrets

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to traveling using points, and more specifically points earned through travel credit cards. Most people’s first thought when they’re introduced to traveling for nearly free, using points and miles, is “What’s the catch?”.  I help people who are similar to myself, who deserve to travel, get past these common misconceptions. My goal is to teach as many people as possible how to enjoy the perks of travel, without spending much money at all.

The Travel Freedom blog is just the beginning of the story…  Travel Freedom is a work in progress to become a larger travel company. It will eventually include travel courses focused on traveling with points, a mobile forum for talking travel with other like-minded travelers, and we will be a travel products manufacturer.  Obviously, not all of these Travel Freedom features have rolled out yet, but they are in the planning stages. We just launched the beta version of our course titled “Travel Using Points (instead of dollars)” and it’s currently available absolutely free of charge.

stand up paddle board

Ryan, stand up paddle (SUP) boarding along the Maui coast

 

Starting a travel business is a mix of both worlds that peak my interest.  Both, entrepreneurship and traveling with points, have been in my heart for the past few years.  I continually learn and grow within each of these topics, so it only makes sense for me to take a shot at joining the two in an attempt to build an everlasting business.

 

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

-Million Mile Secrets

Spend more money!  No, just kidding…  That’s a bad idea unless you can really afford it.  The one single thing that will ALWAYS bring in the most miles, is applying for new credit cards.  Always be earning an introductory offer.  If you aren’t currently busy meeting the minimum spending limit for a new credit card, you’re probably not doing it right.

Just think of it this way: on your next $3000 of purchases, you can earn 3,000 miles (1x miles per $) on a card you already have, or alternatively you can earn 53,000 miles (~17x miles per $) or more if you’re earning an introductory offer!  I’ll take the signup bonus, please!

Million Mile Secrets Hiking

We love to hike, especially when there’s water to jump into at the end!

 

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

-Million Mile Secrets

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit all of the main Hawaiian islands (some multiple times) thanks to miles and points. Each time I’ve visited, it’s cost me only about $11 per person due to a little trick. I’m sure some of you know about it. Using British Airways miles to book direct flights on their partner, Alaska Airlines, from the west coast to Hawaii. It only takes 25k miles plus the taxes and fees which currently comes out to $11.20 for a round trip!

British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which means that there are multiple credit card offers that will give you two or more round-trip flights to Hawaii. This is actually the most common thing for friends to ask for help with, and I’m happy to help them. Everyone needs a little (or a lot) of Aloha in their life!

Some of the Credit Cards That Earn or Transfer to British Airways

Million Mile Secrets Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of our favorites.

As great as Hawaii is, it’s actually not my most memorable travel experience.  My absolute best travel experience that is insurmountable, was flying to Virginia to meet my now wife, for the first time.  We met through mutual friends, and had been talking 24/7, but lived a whole country apart. I was falling for her, so decided to put my points to use and go meet her in person.

We continued to hit it off and the rest is history! We drove her belongings across the country to begin living together in Oregon and got married a year later. It was by far the best value per point I have ever, and will ever get through traveling with points! (PS: It was also my first flight ever in first class – that’s all that was available)

 

What Do Your Family and Friends Think of Your Miles & Points Hobby?

-Million Mile Secrets

Friends and family are usually very intrigued, but also somewhat skeptical.  It often comes down to misconceptions about credit that they have. I find it unreal what percentage of people have absolutely no clue how their credit score really works.  Every time I tell someone I’ve had 30 different credit cards in 6 years and had my credit score climb, they seem stunned. The ones who can see past their credit misconceptions, and see how often my wife and I travel, want to get started earning miles and points for themselves!

I find that most people don’t really want to put in the effort to learn how to use points for travel for themselves.  This is why I’m building a video course to make learning as easy as possible. My friends who decide to jump in seem to have great success. For instance, my sister-in-law decided to use credit card points for her Hawaii honeymoon.

millionmilesecrets honeymoon

Sean and Amber on their two-island Hawaiian honeymoon! Congrats!

 

With a little guidance, she decided to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. She put all of her wedding expenses on it. Within a month, she earned enough points to book their flights to Maui and Kauai, saving nearly $1,500 (that’s a lot of extra Mai-Tai’s they can afford now)! It’s definitely rewarding to see others find the power of points and knowing that I had a part in pointing them in the right direction.

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

-Million Mile Secrets

Oh yeah!  The power of the partner!  I mean that in two ways, and I’ll explain each…

First off, using airline partners for booking can save tons of miles, and I’m all about efficient use of miles and points. For instance, the partnership between British Airways and Alaska Airlines allows me to regularly fly from the west coast to Hawaii for only 25k miles! I also plan on using a similar partnership to fly from the East coast to Ireland for the same amount of miles.

Second, having a points travel partner can pay off big time. Whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a spouse, it can help you both travel easier. If you have two people working together, that means you have twice as many signup bonuses available to you. Where I’ve found this to be insanely profitable, is with the Southwest Companion Pass. If you haven’t heard of it, you need to study up. It gives you a free companion on EVERY flight for the year you earn it, AND the following year.

southwest companion pass credit card

Year 5 and 6 of Having a Southwest Companion Pass! B1G1 FREE FLIGHTS!!!

 

So, say you earn it in February of 2018… That means you have buy-one-get-one-free flights using either money or miles for a whopping 23 months!  Oh, and the Southwest Companion Pass can be earned as easily as signing up for two credit cards… I’m not sure how this deal still exists, but it does! My wife and I trade off earning it every two years so that we almost always have one between the two of us.

 

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

-Million Mile Secrets

When I first began my journey in the world of traveling with points and miles, I would sign up for every single travel blog giveaway I saw.  Surprisingly, I ended up winning the grand prize of a contest on Facebook that gave me 100,000 SPG points! I couldn’t believe it when they emailed me to tell me that I won. I figured it must be some sort of scam, but followed through, and I really did win. Those points went on to give me thousands of dollars worth of travel both through their hotels and their airline transfer partners.

millionmilesecrets las vegas pac-12 tournament

We cheered our Ducks on at the PAC-12 Men’s Basketball Championship in Las Vegas

 

That actually wasn’t the only giveaway that I won.  Within a year I won somewhere between 5-10 giveaways from different travel bloggers.  I even won two separate giveaways run by Million Mile Secrets! If I remember correctly, one was a pack of Italian products from one of their vacations, and the other was a Swiss Army digital bag tag and travel garment sleeve!  So thanks again, for all those giveaways, millionmilesecrets!

Remember, there has to be a winner, so why shouldn’t it be you?!? These events helped give me the mindset “you won’t get it if you don’t ask for it”. I’ve found that it never hurts to ask for an upgrade or a discount. Whatever you ask for, may possibly be given to you!

 

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

-Million Mile Secrets

Have a Plan! When I started out, I jumped in without much of a plan at all. I wanted to earn as many points as possible but didn’t know what in the world I was going to spend them on. If I were to go back, I would make tentative travel plans and then work backward to get whatever credit card works best for that specific vacation. I’ve found that miles and points are always changing, so it’s best not to hold onto them for long periods of time. They may become devalued while you hold them, or a better offer for those same points may arise.

 

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

-Million Mile Secrets

I have an avid interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. I’ve been involved in the space by learning and collecting crypto since 2013 when a friend informed me about it. Since then, I’ve had a wild ride of ups and downs with my crypto investments and ventures. Now, if I could just figure out a way to combine travel and bitcoin to create a new business!!! Let me know if you have any ideas…

I also love playing sports, but I’m getting to the age where my body doesn’t like staying in one piece when I play. My favorite sports are basketball, football and more recently soccer (thanks to Allison who played in college). Golfing is also a lot of fun and my body has an easier time keeping up with it.

millionmilesecrets bitcoin

 

Any parting words?

-Million Mile Secrets

If you are someone who is interested in travel and has a good credit score, take advantage of traveling with points! SERIOUSLY!!! With the high prices of travel, and the willingness of banks to hand over free points, you might as well be getting something out of your good credit! There is basically an unlimited amount of points and miles out there for the taking. It might as well be you that takes them!

Earning points through travel credit cards has changed my life in ways I would have never expected. From flying to Hawaii by myself for a few days “just because”, to flying across the country to meet who would end up being my future wife, in first class. These are things I never would have imagined doing just ten years ago because I literally wouldn’t have been able to afford them. If you have an itch for travel, go ahead, jump right in. I’ll take a wild guess that you won’t look back!

 

If you’re interested in traveling like us, check out our Best Travel Credit Card post. It will explain which travel credit card is the best to get first, and why.