Scott Grimmer is the founder and author of Mile Value. He is a miles aficionado and avid traveler, born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has earned and redeemed tens of millions of miles for himself and others. You can follow his blog on Twitter, Facebook or You Tube.
First of all tell everyone a basic background of who you are…
I’m a 26 year old full time miles blogger and award booker, living in Hawaii. I started Mile Value in March 2012 because other blogs at the time focused too little on redeeming frequent flyer miles.
Earning miles is easy, but useless, if you don’t know how to redeem them.
The blog shot to fame in 2012 when I discovered how to add Free Oneways to United and US Airways awards. My techniques have since been covered in the New York Times and Mashable.
What motivated you to start to start your blog?
I started the blog because I thought I knew more about redeeming airline miles than the people who were already blogging at the time. I really enjoy booking awards for myself and others, so I started an Award Booking Service at the same time. The MileValue Award Booking Service is now one of the largest in the world. We’ve redeemed tens of millions of miles for trips all over the world. We charge only $125 per passenger.
What advice do you have for someone looking to apply for an airline miles credit card?
Work backwards. Figure out where you want to go, when, and in what cabin. Then figure out the best miles for that trip based on who flies there, with what product, and with how much award space.
Then get the card(s) you need to get the miles for the trip.
If you don’t know where to start, I offer a Free Credit Card Consultation where I tell you–based on your travel goals, what cards and miles balances you already have, and how much you spend on cards–which cards to get.
With many airlines struggling financially, do you think that they will eventually scale back their rewards card offerings?
If so, we should take advantage of the awesome current values now.
If not, we should take advantage now and later.
I sure hope programs aren’t scaled back, but whether they are or not does not change my strategy of maximizing them in the present.
Do you feel that airline credit cards offer superior rewards compared to cash back or other rewards credit cards?
It depends on what your travel goals are. If you want to fly international first class, that costs $10,000+ or a little over 100,000 miles. In that case, you want a card that earns traditional airline miles.
But if you want a trip for your family to Disneyworld over your kids’ Spring Break, you’d be better off with a cash back card or the Arrival Plus to avoid having to hunt for award space and to get on the flights that best fit your schedule.
If you had to give one piece of advice for people looking to maximize their airline miles what would it be?
If you can’t find the redemption you want online at the Saver level, call a phone agent. If they can’t find what you want at the Saver level, hire an Award Booking Service. Do not book Standard or Peak price awards.
I understand you’ve traveled over 40+ countries, what have been your favorite places that you’ve visited so far?
Peru is my favorite country. It has everything from the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, the Amazon Rainforest, a beautiful mega-city on the Pacific in Lima, the world’s deepest canyon, the world’s highest navegable lake with indigenous people who live on man-made reed islands, and even stunning beaches in the north. Here’s my Peru Top Ten.
Aside from traveling, what’s the best general advice you want to pass to people?
If you don’t like your job, quit.Read More
Carmen and Dave are the founder and authors of Double Barreled Travel blog. They are two Aussies who moved to London together at the end of 2008, beginning an adventure with little expectations. You can follow their blog on Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or You Tube.
First of all give us a quick background of both of you….
I kissed Dave goodbye a week after we started dating and told him to have fun – he was off to travel the world for a year and I wasn’t about to stop him.
Dave and I met when I was 18 and he was 23 but we didn’t start dating until three years later. When this happened, I was a year out of university (where I studied journalism) and working at a local newspaper. He’d just finished a five year stint as a TV reporter, working for stations including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
He left for his trip but returned six months early. We decided to move to London to live and three months later packed our bags, hugged our families goodbye and have been living outside of Australia ever since (this was in 2008). But we did return to Perth briefly to get married in 2012.
In London, Dave worked for Al Jazeera, Sky News and then the BBC as a Senior Broadcast Journalist. I worked for an online magazine, a finance magazine and then as a deputy editor for a number of B2B publications before becoming an account manager at a creative content agency.
But we were getting bored in our day jobs and felt we weren’t challenged enough. So we quit and began traveling the world full time. That was one year ago!
What inspired you to start a blog?
It was when we were living in London and Dave was working at the BBC and I was at the creative content agency. We had good jobs, people even told us so, but deep down we weren’t satisfied.
We often read the posts our friend Natasha published on Glampacker.com and when she told us about going to a blogging conference in Manchester, and how great it was, we decided to head to TBU in Porto.
When we were there, Dave and Deb from The Planet D spoke about how they used to work in Hollywood and even though they had jobs people admired, they weren’t satisfied. Their true passion was travelling and they felt as though they were missing out.
When they were speaking, Dave and I turned to each other and it was like we each had light bulbs going off above our heads. Without even saying a word, we both new we had to change our lives, because just like Dave and Deb we were living lives that we didn’t love.
Dave and Deb inspired us with their talk and seven months later we quit our day jobs for good to travel indefinitely.
Why name your blog after your Surname?
A lot of people don’t get the ‘Double-Barrelled’ aspect to our blog. Sometimes they think it’s something to do with shotguns!
We decided to call it Double-Barrelled Travel because when we got married we both double-barrelled our names, each taking the name of the other.
Because we started our blog shortly after we tied the knot, we thought it was fitting because it was all about the adventures we were undertaking as a couple.
What was your experience Carmen working as a shoe shiner?
These days I look back on that experience with a smile but at the time I can honestly say I hated it!
It was a necessity though – Dave and I arrived in London in 2008, in the beginning of the worldwide recession. As the plane landed, it was broadcast on the news that the BBC that day had laid off 800 people.
Dave’s goal was to work for the BBC so we were a little disheartened!
We really struggled to find work and to pay our rent Dave worked on a street corner selling The Sun newspaper and I became a shoe shiner.
I was put to work shining shoes in all the stockbroking firms and my boss was very paranoid that word would get out I was a journalist and they’d think I was working undercover to listen in on their banking conversations. I had to promise I wouldn’t report on anything I heard and I didn’t.
It was a very good introduction to the class system in the UK though and although I hated it at the time, I’m glad I did it because it made me appreciate where I am now in my career working for myself.
Sometime Dave jokes ‘I got on my knees for the bankers when times were tough’… I guess it helps to put a humorous spin on things.
I notice you have a company called Red Platypus. What’s that all about?
Red Platypus is our bread and butter. When we began travelling indefinitely a year ago, we had a vague idea that we’d start to work at some point and we officially launched Red Platypus to support our lifestyle around two months ago.
We’ve actually been super lucky and haven’t had to market ourselves for work as of yet. One of our main clients we met after staying in her house through Airbnb in San Francisco, and another main client is an old school friend of Dave’s.
Red Platypus focuses on social media marketing, copywriting, editing and video production for small businesses around the world. Basically we are helping small businesses, with all the skills we’ve learnt as journalists, to produce creative content that grabs attention.
If you had to give one piece of advice for couples looking to travel on a budget what would it be
Keep track of your budget! Most people want to travel cheaply but then run out of money sooner than they thought they would and are left thinking, ‘Where the hell did I spend it?’
Ever since I spent my first year away from home on a student exchange to Paris at the age of 15, I’ve been obsessive about tracking my expenses. I used to write everything down but these days I’ve thankfully got an iPhone to help.
I use the Trail Wallet app that allows you to track everything you spend and will let you know when you go over your budget.
Are there any budget travel lessons that you learned the hard way?
Try not to make rush decisions and if you need help with something you’re unsure about, don’t be afraid to ask.
These tips would’ve come in handy before buying our van in Canada at the beginning of our six month road trip around North America. We bought it in a rush and didn’t bother to get a mechanic to look over it.
As a result, the van broke down the next day and we ended up spending nearly $5,000 fixing it.
Which brings me to another tip – have money in reserve for emergencies like that!
(And also get travel insurance so you don’t have to worry about health emergencies.)
Of all the places you traveled to, what was your favorite?
Probably the island of Dominica in the Caribbean (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). It’s an absolutely beautiful place, full of waterfalls, jungle and interesting wildlife.
It’s hardly been touched by tourism so it’s a little hidden slice of paradise.
We lived there for two months at the end of last year and had the time of our lives.
What is one place that you regret going to?
We kind of regret going to Las Vegas. We weren’t really prepared because we didn’t have much money at the time, and ended up staying in the world’s seediest motel where we witnessed crack dealings in the car park.
We didn’t really enjoy the city either – everything is so fake and we couldn’t get why you’d want to take a photo of a fake Eiffel Tower when the real thing was so much better.
But we’re willing to give it another try – in a better ‘party’ frame of mind perhaps.
What places are still on your bucket list?
Antarctica! We’d love to cruise up there and see the wildlife. We’ve been to the other six continents so it’s only a matter of time…
Aside from traveling, what’s the best general advice you want to pass to people?
Stop living a life people expect you to live if it doesn’t make you happy. Think outside the box and don’t just take the safe and easy route – that’s boring.
There’s so much emphasis these days on buying a house and having a fancy car but sometimes it’s good to step back and evaluate if these are the things that really make you happy.
The longer we’re on the road, the more we realise material possessions just don’t mean much to us and it’s the experiences we’re having that are creating a feeling deep inside – and that’s something money can’t buy.
Live a remarkable life.Read More
In this series we’ll be asking some of our favorite bloggers their opinion or advice on a specific question. This way instead of just getting our thoughts on the topic, you can read a diverse range of views from some great bloggers.
If you’re a travel blogger and would like to take part in this series in the future, please contact us.
This week the question we asked bloggers was:
Which airline credit card do you use and why?
Stephen Lioy at MonkBoughtLunch
My favorite credit card that is properly an ‘airline card’ is the United Explorer. I get some occasional value out of the early boarding and free checked bags, and United miles are still one of my favorite points even post-devaluation. More than that, though, I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for my airline purchases. Especially for international flights where the bags are free anyways, the 2.14 points per dollar + bonus for booking through the Ultimate Rewards mall/ partner sites make it a better value proposition for booking. Add in the really good lost and delayed baggage insurance and other perks they offer, and its a no-brainer. Even now that I’m paying the annual fee for it, the CSP keeps a place of honor in my spending patterns.
John Schmoll at Frugal Rules
My favorite Airline credit card would be a tie between the Southwest credit card and the Frontier Airlines credit card. Who doesn’t like Southwest? We love to fly Southwest as their rates are reasonable and they don’t charge any baggage fees. Both my wife and I have churned the Southwest cards and have earned several free flights out of it. The Frontier card is a great one as well because it has a ridiculously easy minimum spend to hit. We’ve churned that card as well to get free flights.
Norbert Figueroa at Globo Treks
My favorite is the Chase Sapphire because I get double miles for any travel purchase and it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
Auston Matta at Two Bad Tourists
One of our favorite cards is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. Though not strictly an airline card, its flexibility lets you transfer your points to more than 30 different airlines. We use this option to top off our mileage accounts when necessary or to book rooms at Starwood properties. We recently stayed the Sheraton Hotel Santa Maria de El Paular in Rascarifa Spain, a great day trip from Madrid.
Jan Ross at Wanderlust Wonder
The Venture Capitol One Visa card. We use this to accumulate points for travel or even just to purchase gift cards.
Jacob and Vanessa at Tightwad Travelers
We have many, but right now the best deal in airline cards is the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card. It offers 110,000 American Airlines miles after spending $10,000 in 3 months. If you really get creative, you can meet the minimum spend requirement before the first statement cuts, receive the miles, and then cancel the card within 30 days after the statement cuts to have the $450 annual fee refunded. This is all legal per the terms and conditions, but it’s sort of a moral grey area. Better yet, you can get multiple cards because Citi is handing them out like candy. Between my wife and I, we have six.
110,000 AA miles is enough for a nice Business/First Class International flight, or 2-3 international flights in economy, or 4.5 domestic flights in economy. Great deal!
Susan Shain at Travel Junkette
My favorite is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I’m always moving around and don’t have a home airport, so I love the flexibility it offers. I can cash in my Ultimate Rewards points to fly on pretty much any airline, which is just amazing. Plus, I love that I get two points per dollar on travel and dining. Not to mention it is a snazzy-looking card!
Annette at Bucket List Journey
I use the United MileagePlus Explorer card because it coincides with the StarAlliance program and gives me perks like access to the business lounge, no fees on foreign transactions, priority boarding and the miles don’t expire. I pair this card up with the HiltonHonors card for discounts on my hotel stays.
Which is your favorite airline? Why is it your choice? Share with us in comment box below.Read More
The following is a guest post. If interested in submitting a guest post please read my guest post policy and then contact me.
Once you qualify for a loan with 800LoanMart, it is important to use your money wisely and pay it back on time. Although many borrowers do not see this as a major means of establishing a credit record, dishonoring your commitment could have negative repercussions. Those who borrow often do so because their options of borrowing from traditional financial institutions is limited. They either have negative credit incidents in their personal history or have no record of revolving credit for lenders to approve. This can be quite limiting, and non-traditional loan firms help to give borrowers with these type of credit histories some more options.
It is important to use the loan for the purpose you tell the lender you are borrowing money. This not only helps to establish you as creditworthy, but it also ensures you are trustworthy in a lender’s eyes. If you do not honor what you say, it becomes difficult to do business with you in the future. Honest can lead to bigger lending opportunities in the future, but this is where you begin to lay the groundwork for those opportunities.
Paying back the money you borrow when you say you are going to pay it is equally important. It, too, builds trustworthiness. Even is something comes up like the loss of a job, it is important to stay in communication with your lenders and let them know your situation. Even if you cannot pay the entire amount when it is due, if you can pay something, it lets the lender know you are making a good faith effort to keep your word.Read More
Fist blows over reclining of a seat
A fist fight started as a result of an argument between two passengers over a reclining seat. One of the passengers started the fight after the other passenger reclined his seat on his lap soon after take-off on a United Airlines flight from Washington DC to Ghana. The pilot make a quick decision to return to DC as the passengers and crew separated them. In the return is was escorted by a pair of F-16 fighter jets.
Former football player and actor Vinnie Jones was given 80 hours community service after he admitted assaulting an airline passenger and threatening members of an air crew. As passengers and crew tried to restrain him, Jones reportedly declared: “I can get you murdered. I can get the whole crew murdered for £3,000.” Jones had allegedly slapped fellow passenger Stephen Driscoll who had accused him of being annoying. Jones was ordered to pay the passenger £300 compensation plus a £500 fine and costs.
The Whitney Houston impersonator
An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing last week when a female passenger refused to stop singing Whitney Houston songs. AA Flight 4 was en route from Los Angles to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 9 when, according to the airline, the flight was diverted to Kansas City because of a “very unruly passenger.”
A video of the woman being escorted off the plane is available on the website of local television station KCTV. It shows the woman belting out “I Will Always Love You” as at least two uniformed officers accompanied her off the plane.
Man who allegedly slapped a baby
Joe Hundley, a 60-year-old-man traveling from Minneapolis to Atlanta, was accused of slapping a 19-month-old boy and telling his mother to “shut that n-word baby up.” The toddler’s mother, Jessica Bennett, told ABC News her son’s eye was swollen and bleeding and she was “scared to death.”
Hundley, who was employed as an executive at AGC Aerospace and Defense, lost his job. He pleaded not guilty to simple assault charges in a federal court.
Guy who got restrained with duct tape
A man on a January Icelandair flight was so drunk and belligerent, passengers said, that he had to be restrained with duct tape. The unidentified passenger allegedly downed an entire bottle of duty-free alcohol, according to a man who posted the photo of the duct-taped man on his blog. The airline accused the man of accosting and hitting people on the flight. Passengers say he even tried to choke the person next to him and screamed, “The plane is going to crash.”
Drunk ladies who swore at kids
Two reportedly drunk women forced the landing of a British Airways flight in Lyon, France, in late 2012. Flight BA2664 was headed from London’s Gatwick Airport to Tunis. The flight was diverted to Lyon, the airline said, following “the continued disruptive behavior of two female passengers.”
British tabloid The Sun reported the women were drinking Malibu rum and swore at children. They reportedly threatened the family of a British Airways flight attendant and tried to storm the cockpit and hid in the lavatory and tried to smoke.
The paper quoted a passenger as saying, “They decided they were going to meet the captain and marched towards the cockpit. It was very frightening.”
“Our customers and flying crew deserve a safe and enjoyable flight experience,” an airline spokesperson said. “We do not tolerate any disruptive behavior onboard our flights.
“They were handed over to the custody of the French police and detained upon arrival in Lyon.”
The lady who stripped
A woman stripped naked at Denver International Airport last year after being caught smoking in a non-smoking section of the airport. Airport spokeswoman Jenny Schiavone said it appeared the woman had some sort of a breakdown and the disrobing didn’t have anything to do with the smoking ban.
Denver’s Terminal B does have a smoking loungeRead More