Author: Peter

a pile of postage stamps on a pile of white paper

Fourteen Wireless Speakers, an iPhone 6, and 188 Stamps

The world of credit cards and travel hacking has a lot of low-hanging fruits, where handfuls of points and miles can be had for low or no cost. Like stocks and careers, though, sometimes the bigger rewards require larger, riskier investments. 2015 was a year when I learned about – and participated in – some of these opportunities. From extreme couponing to free points hoarding, I had a lot of fun with them. Three of my fondest memories are recounted below.

a large crowd of people in Abraj Al Bait

Aspiration: Mecca

This is an article about a city of global significance that sees little coverage on travel blogs; a place that is simultaneously mysterious and very popular; one that I would absolutely love to visit, but probably never will. This is an article about Mecca.

a logo of a woman with a crown and a cup of coffee

Thirsty for Points – Maximizing Starbucks

I love Starbucks. More precisely, I love the Starbucks Rewards program. To quote my friend Dr. J, “I go there just to watch those stars fall on my phone.” It’s designed well to entice brand loyalty. More importantly, the program works quite similarly to frequent traveler programs – you earn stars, achieve elite statuses, and get free drinks. As a newly minted points enthusiast, I became excited about playing with a new rewards program and figuring out how to get the most out of it. I started drinking coffee and, a year later, now have two Gold cards.

a group of different colored packages

A Math Nerd’s Quest to Become A Points & Miles Millionaire – Why Stop at Miles and Points?

The points & miles hobby is at the cross roads of travel loyalty programs and credit card rewards. Some travel hacking purists only believe in airline and hotel currencies. As for me, this game is about saving money in whichever way possible. Maximizing the value of a purchase sometimes involves receiving rewards in different shapes and forms. Cashback and statement credits, anyone? If you don’t look at your options holistically, you may be missing out!

a group of bottles of wine in a refrigerator

A Math Nerd’s Quest to Become A Points & Miles Millionaire – Status & Perks

When I began collecting credit cards, I focused exclusively on the “points and miles” hobby. My goal was to accumulate measurable currencies that could be redeemed for free travel, and I paid no attention to other benefits that may have come with the cards. I didn’t know much about them, and I didn’t think I would keep the cards long enough to take advantage of them. These “soft” benefits of travel credit cards, however, were like the sides on my steak plate. I couldn’t ignore them forever. And, when I finally paid attention, some of them turned out to be a wonderful surprise.

a group of credit cards on a table

A Math Nerd’s Quest to Become A Points & Miles Millionaire – Manufactured Spending

Manufactured Spending (MS) is a big part of the points and miles hobby. It’s a collection of techniques where you pretend to spend the money that you don’t have, in order to generate points. The general concept is that you buy cash-equivalent instruments with a reward-earning credit card, and then convert those instruments to cash in order to pay off the credit card balance.