When I was a young buck, I used to travel like a maniac for work. I racked up travel miles fast because I was earning them non stop. I was based in Manhattan and had to cover clients in Florida, Bahamas, Iowa, Texas, Colorado, and California.
Then, there were the necessary quarterly or semi-annual pilgrimages to Hong Kong to kiss the ring. When you've got a corporate card with unlimited credit, you feel a little better about taking red-eyes to your 8am meetings.
But after a while, the novelty wears off and all you want to do is take the Chairman's Flight (fly in the middle of the work day). Eventually, I got burned out and decided to retire early and grow my own business, this site.
Accumulating Travel Miles
Travel miles and credit card rewards points were my combination of choice because not only would I gain more points flying more miles, I would then gain rewards points for every dollar I spent on the ticket, hotels, food, and entertainment.
For example, I'd earn 16,100 points for flying to Hong Kong from New York City roundtrip + 5,000 points for the cost of the business class ticket + 2,500 points for seven nights in a hotel + 1,000 points for food + 500 points for entertainment. The total rewards points accumulated would therefore equal ~25,000 for a one week business trip to Asia.
From Three To Two Travel Miles Credit Cards
I used to have a Delta Skymiles credit card, an American Airlines credit card, and an AMEX corporate card as part of my arsenal of spending tools. After racking up 130,000 travel miles one year and accumulating roughly 180,000 credit card rewards points, I realized that having three travel credit cards was inefficient so I consolidated to just two.
I was so proud of my 130,000 travel miles that I actually included that stat in a line item on my resume in my 20s. I know, a rookie move. In retrospect, I don't know how impressive the stat was since I've heard of people travel 300,000 – 500,000 miles a year. I find that absolutely amazing.
But those folks were either executives who constantly flew first or business class internationally, or worked in the airlines industry.
Didn't Break 100,000 Travel Miles Again
After 1999, I never breached 100,000 travel miles in one year again. Even though I've been averaging seven weeks of travel for the past four years, my total travel miles comes out to no more than 30,000 miles a year now.
One of the biggest downsides of no longer working for a large corporation is a lack of all these free side benefits. Despite the corporation owning my AMEX, I got all the points.
I save credit card rewards points like I save money: aggressively. In fact, every year my goal is to earn 50,000 rewards points (~$400-$500 value, Determining The Value Of Your Credit Card Rewards Points) so I can go on a round trip flight to Honolulu and back. I figure that since Hawaii is my favorite place on Earth, what a treat to always experience paradise for free.
Even my big trip from San Francisco to London for Wimbledon this summer will only garner me 10,700 miles on my travel belt.
After about four years of charging and saving, I just realized I finally breached 100,000 credit card rewards points on my main personal credit card that I use for all things excluding travel. Now the question is: what should I buy? I think I'll just keep saving.
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