The secrets of earning rewards travel

Even in these budget-stretched times, some families have miles to go — and they’re traveling for FREE! Anna Werner has a story that’s “in the cards” (A version of this story originally aired on April 9, 2017): 

When Werner caught up with Cincinnati residents Dan Miller and his wife, Carolyn, earlier this year, they were getting their six kids ready for a Spring Break trip to California. Sounds expensive, right? But Miller managed to fly his family of eight for $500.

In fact, the Miller family has been able to travel the world on a computer programmer’s salary, all by using airline miles or credit card points. [He and his wife have about 40 cards between them.]

Points With a Crew

He’s not your average card user, though. Miller got so good at this card game, he started writing a blog: Points with a Crew.

“You don’t have to be as crazy as I am,” Miller laughed. “I like to tell people if you do it right, really with one or two additional credit card sign-ups, you can take your family somewhere for free using those miles.”

And guess what? The savings really add up. 

Miller has saved, he’s reckoned, “tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars over the course of the last couple of years.”

No surprise to Brian Kelly, who told Werner, “You are literally throwing money away if you’re not getting miles and points.”

Kelly is The Points Guy, who turned a lifelong passion for travel into a website that gets more than 3 million views a month, from fans eager to learn his secrets.

“The first thing to do, if you want to have a good miles and points strategy, is to get the right credit cards,” Kelly said. “These are not frequent flyer programs anymore; they’re frequent spender programs.”

The Points Guy

“So why is it worth it for the credit card companies to do that?” Werner asked.

“It’s a huge business. The credit card companies charge merchants for every time you swipe your credit card. The merchant is paying the credit card issuer for the ability to process your transaction. And then the credit card company kicks you back a portion of that in the form of rewards.”

The airlines make out, too, getting roughly half their profits by selling miles to credit card companies, who use them as incentives to get consumers to sign up for their cards, often with huge sign-up bonuses.

Generally speaking, the more you…

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