December 14, 2014

How I Got Started - Part Two

In case you haven't read part one, here's the link...

So I started getting serious about credit card “churning” in 2012.  Meaning I applied for a round of credit cards every 90 days or so.  I wish I would have discovered it earlier as I would have saved myself a lot of flying.  Leveraging credit cards to earn points and miles can be FAR more lucrative than actually flying.  In fact, over the past three years, Emily and I have collected more than 3,500,000 points and miles from credit card sign-up bonuses.  That doesn’t include points and miles for everyday spend, bonus categories, special offers, or retention bonuses.  Friends, family, and even blog readers have been skeptical.  My credit score has never been higher and my “AwardWallet” account has never been fuller.

Is that a mermaid or a lion?

A week before our wedding we were in Boulder doing what else…preparing for the wedding.  I woke up Saturday morning and checked my email and started reading about how Singapore Airlines had been undergoing a system conversion and mistakenly released all premium award availability to United.  People were booking premium trips (not inventory normally available to MileagePlus members) like crazy.  In business class, first class, and suites class.  I woke Emily up and asked here if she wanted to go to Singapore.  In a haze she asked me what I was up to.  "Seriously - want to go to Singapore next year - it’s a long flight but it will be comfortable.  Here…watch this video of Singapore Airlines First Class.”  After watching the video of the seat, food and service all she could say was “Um, okay!”  So we booked the “mistake” award to Singapore and flew international first class on a real airline together for the first time.  We sat next to Chelsea Clinton.  We explored Singapore and we made plans to return.  Which we did earlier this year.

The next big trip was last Thanksgiving.  We really wanted to go to Istanbul but wanted to go somewhere warm as well.  We settled on Dubai and found great flights on Turkish from Houston.  A week before the trip, I was trying to prove to myself that I could top the last trip by finding Lufthansa First Class (only available through United MileagePlus within 15 days of departure).  Well I found it and we flew across the pond in serious style.  We enjoyed our time in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal and our ride from the terminal to the plane in a six figure Mercedes.

Burj al Arab in Dubai

The journey itself had begun part of the adventure.  Instead of a cramped middle seat in coach dreaming of arriving at our destination, we looked forward to getting on board the plane…exploring our seats, menus, and amenities.  All the while sitting in our pajamas.  I write the last couple of sentences not to show off but more to prove that flying this way is WAY MORE fun.  And most anyone can figure out how to make it their reality as well.

Some of our friends think we have some secret travel slush fund.  I wish that was true but it’s not.  Our upcoming trip to Asia will likely cost less than your vacation.  We earned the points via credit card bonuses and everyday spend to pay for our flights and hotels.  We are paying for one night with cash out of 8.  We’ll get complimentary breakfast and evening cocktails/appetizers at all four of our hotels thanks to credit cards and elite status we hold.

Over the summer, we went to Bali.  There’s no easy way to get there but we had a relatively straight forward routing in business class.  Earlier in the year, Asiana First Class inventory opened up (similar to the Singapore incident described above) and we had a choice to make.  Keep our routing which good get us there a bit faster or go the “long way” to fly a better product.  We both chose the letter and spent a great night in NYC before departing for Seoul.  It was actually a great way to break up the trip and we ended up with the first class cabin all to ourselves.

A lot of people think I’m crazy and don’t want anything to do with this “hobby.”  Or they think it takes an inordinate amount of time (it can).  Some people would rather focus their energy on other things and that is totally cool.  I like the fact that I can create “value” out of somewhat “gaming” the system.  Figuring out which credit cards to leverage into the most points/miles and then leveraging those into the best possible trips for my family. So that we can experience new things and places together and be comfortable throughout the entire journey.  At the end of the day, that is what it is all about.

Thank you for reading.

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