Seattle Points and Miles


I just spent the weekend in Seattle attending and presenting at Frequent Traveler University.  One of the interesting distinctions of this location is that Seattle has long been CVS-free and so locals have been unable to take advantage of the previously easy trick of buying Vanilla Reload cards with credit cards to load Bluebird and then pay bills.  Now that CVS has gone cash-only, some of the content of the conference became more applicable to those who attended from nearby since we talked quite a bit about what to do without Vanilla Reloads (such as these suggestions).

My first talk was titled “Manufacturing Miles: Accelerate point-earnings through manufactured spend, category bonuses, and more.”  In that talk, I presented an overview of many of the techniques I write about in my blog everyday.  I talked about ways to combine credit card category bonuses with shopping portal points and with gift cards, etc., to earn 5 points per dollar, 10 points per dollar, 20 points per dollar, and more.  And, I talked about the basics of manufacturing spend (spending money with credit cards in ways that result in getting most or all of your money back).

The next session I participated in was titled “Where the game is Headed.”  I joined Gary from View from the Wing, Seth from Wandering Aramean, Ben from One Mile at a Time, and Randy Peterson who heads up Boarding Area, Inside Flyer Magazine, and much more.  We gave our opinions about which direction things are going, good and bad.  With regards to earning points and miles, I argued that earning significant numbers of miles through travel is mostly a dead sport already.  To earn lots of miles, its necessary to get into the credit card game.  Credit card signups continue, for now, to be the best way to earn points and miles quickly.  That said, we’re starting to see credit card companies experiment with new ways to incentivize consumers to use their cards for everyday spend (for example, please see “Amex’s EveryDay weapons in the category bonus war”).  These developments, I believe, will begin to shift point earning opportunities slightly away from credit card signup bonuses and more towards manufactured spend techniques.


The above photo comes courtesy of The Value Traveler via Twitter.  I’m the guy in the middle with the blurry hand.  Ben is on the other side of the podium. Seth is next to me, and Randy is next to Seth.  Gary is off-screen.

My final session was where I retold the “Million Mile Madness” story.  This was my quest in March 2013 to earn one million points and miles in a single month.  I think it makes a pretty neat story.  One of these days I hope to get around to putting the whole thing into e-book form.  Until then, I’ll happily retell the story at any frequent flyer event that will have me.

I don’t plan to distribute slides from my presentations.  I feel like they are incomplete and too easily misinterpreted without additional commentary.  I will, though, write a series of posts to cover the main thoughts and ideas. Maybe. We’ll see.

For those interested, I’m scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

  • #MileMadness Seminar and Celebration: May 10th, Charlotte (Sold Out)
  • FTU Advanced: September 26-28, Chicago (Sold Out)
  • Chicago Seminars: October 17-19, Chicago

If you’re planning to attend any of these, I’m looking forward to meeting you.  To everyone I met and talked with this past weekend, I truly enjoyed our conversations. Thank you!

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