Here is another installment in my series of interviews with readers. Something I’m always impressed with is how large families (as in more than four people) are able to successfully utilize miles and points. It ain’t easy, folks! That’s why I’m so excited that my reader Stacy who has a Twitter handle Family6Travels has agreed to this interview. As you have probably guessed, she has a family of six. What are the chances?
Without further ado:
1) What motivated you to research miles and points hobby?
My sister mentioned points a couple of years ago, but I was only half listening. It never occurred to me that you could fly anywhere with a credit card sign-up bonus. I was also under the impression that credit cards were evil. Before signing up for my first bonus, it had been 5-6 years since we’d applied for a card.
I accompanied my husband on an international work trip in 2014. We had several delays along the way which prompted me to reach out to the airline. They offered 15k miles for each of us and asked what FF program we would like them applied to. This led to my first Google search which really introduced me to the world of miles and points.
2) What are the biggest challenges you face as a large family who is trying to navigate miles and points hobby?
As a family of 6 the biggest challenge we face is earning the massive amount of points required to get us anywhere. Any stay will require 2 hotel rooms per night, sometimes 3 as we discovered on our recent trip to Europe. Without doing MS, we have to plan a year or so for a big trip.
3) What’s your favorite trip that was made possible solely due to miles and points?
We just returned from Europe which was our first big award redemption.
It took us about 18 months and quite a few credit card sign-up bonuses to make this trip happen. My husband travels frequently for work and we maximized his hotel point earnings by signing up for hotel bonus promotions.
Keep in mind that we have a large family with a lot of expenses. We put all of them on credit cards, including our daughter’s college tuition and boys’ high school hockey costs.
Leana: Stacy was actually kind enough to provide a breakdown of her mileage and hotel points’ redemptions in Europe, as well as out-of-pocket costs. I decided to go ahead and turn it into a separate post. Here is a preview:
Seasoned miles and points hobbyists know that this is Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris. Yes, Stacy redeemed three Hyatt certificates in order to treat her family to one night at this fancy hotel. She said it was totally worth it!
4) How often do you think about miles and points?
I think about miles and points more than a person should! I’m so new at this that I know there are smarter ways to earn and burn. I’m always researching and reading trip reports. I love following few blogs geared toward family travel (like your site).
5) What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done to earn miles or points?
I don’t think I’ve done anything too crazy yet. In fact, I’ve probably been too cautious and afraid to make a mistake. I try to make any purchase over $100 using a shopping portal, you’d be surprised how many points you can earn this way! We also pay daycare and medical with our cards and get reimbursed from our flexible spending account.
6) How do your spouse and kids feel about this hobby?
My husband travels nearly every week for work so the last thing he wants to talk about is travel. Even though he still doesn’t like to discuss miles/points, he will ask “what card do I need to use on this trip?” or “what hotel do I need to stay in?” Kids think I’m nuts, but they just experienced what Mom has been working on this past 1 1/2 years, so they are believers now!
7) Do you ever wish you’ve never found miles and points hobby? Why/why not?
No, I don’t regret learning about miles and points hobby. I never thought I would be able to go to Europe, let alone take our 4 kids. The possibilities are endless. I’ve always talked to my kids about how important your credit score is. This hobby has opened their eyes to how having good financial health can open the doors to travel opportunities.
8) If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is just starting out in this hobby, what would it be?
Figure out where you want to go before applying for any cards, then research flights and hotels. Book early! We redeemed miles for our flights almost one year ahead and found standard hotel awards gone as early as 8 months out.
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.