An ongoing, fascinating debate in the mile/point community has centered around the question of which deals are OK to publicly write about and which should be kept secret. The risk of over-publicizing deals is that they may get shut down sooner as a result – either because the publicity exposes loopholes to those who are in a position to fix them, or because it greatly increases the number of people taking advantage of a deal to the point where it becomes unsustainable. On the other hand, some deals get tons of exposure and keep on chugging away (e.g. credit card signup bonuses, Amazon Payments, etc.). In those cases, the added exposure helps more and more people get started in this hobby so that they too can save more, travel more, or take dream trips they never before believed possible.
I don’t have the perfect answer to what should or should not be public. I’ve attempted to articulate my “rules” (see “Blogging the line”), but truthfully each new deal raises new questions that I ultimately answer through a gut-check: Does it feel right to write about this or not?
The best way to learn about the deals that are not made public is to build up a network of trusted friends with similar interests in this hobby. People who know you and trust your discretion are likely to share their secrets with you. And, the best way to build up this network is to meet others, in person.
There are a number of ways to find and meet other mile/point enthusiasts. Two very useful tools are the Community Buzz forum on Flyertalk and the Meetups forum on Milepoint. Scan those forums for meetups near where you live and/or in places you plan to go. Usually these events are pretty informal (e.g. meet for happy hour at a neighborhood bar), but some are more extensive and include multi-day agendas.
Beyond these casual meetups, you can also look to attend “DOs” or seminars such as the Chicago Seminars, Frequent Traveler University seminars, Mile Madness DOs, etc. (see more in this recent write-up).
To be clear, you shouldn’t go to these meetups with the expectation that people will spill secrets to you right then and there. Instead, look at these meetups as opportunities to make new friends who share similar interests. And then, over time, if you’re lucky, some of those new friends will share secret tips with you.
Speaking of Meetups…
If you live in the Ann Arbor area (Southeast Michigan), you might be interested in joining a new group I started on Meetup.com. The idea is to have an easy way to broadcast meetups to people in the area. If you’re interested, please go to meetup.com/Ann-Arbor-Miles-Points and click “Join Us!”
When you’re ready to propose a meetup, just click “Suggest a new meetup:”