The Million Mile Secrets Interview

Daraius from Million Mile Secrets has been running a series of interviews of frequent flyer bloggers. He interviewed me last month (and I extended on the most asked about story from the interview here.).

For a new blogger, it’s a great strategy to bring in an audience I imagine, since the more highly trafficked bloggers link to you. Plus it happens to also be interesting, I’ve enjoyed the stories of the bloggers who are my daily reads.source a blog post! 🙂

Since Darius is a relatively new blogger, but whose posts have been interesting and useful, I thought that his story would be interesting. So I asked him to share it with me. Plus, I get to mostly out

And so I present The Million Mile Secrets Interview.

    (In Rajasthan, India)

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I first started collecting miles when I went backpacking in Europe after graduating college. I successfully earned miles for the outbound trip on KLM, but didn’t sign up for an American Airlines frequent flyer account until after the return trip. So I didn’t earn any miles for that segment.

My first job out of college had me travelling a lot for work, so I would research point and mile bonuses on the web. That’s how I discovered Flyer Talk. But besides researching bonus offers, I didn’t get into miles and points in a big way.

I was (and still am) a personal finance junkie, so I would apply for credit cards with 0% interest introductory offers, and transfer money to a bank account which earned interest. While researching credit cards, I discovered that you could churn Citi AAdvantage cards and get the bonus again…and again…and again. I was hooked!

I’ve always been the type who loves to do taxes, read fine print, and understand rules. Frequent flyer programs are not as complicated as the US tax code, but are more lucrative to me when I find the right loophole!

Why did you start Million Mile Secrets? What’s special about it?

I’ve been collecting miles and points for a long time, and wanted to share how easy it is to travel for less with others. Emily and I agreed on a 3 month trial period – I’ll blog for 3 months at first and see how it goes. After a week, I’m addicted and can’t think of life without writing a blog!

At one point, I wanted to be a Professor of Economics or Finance, but decided not to pursue it. I like explaining arcane concepts, and the blog lets me do that. It also lets me share in their success. I am always thrilled to read comments or emails of readers’ successes!

I write Million Mile Secrets for folks who are just getting started with miles and points and don’t have a lot of time to spend earning miles and points. I write my posts to show those folks how to have Big Travel with Small Money!

It really is possible to sign up for a few good credit card offers and travel the world in style. You won’t believe it is possible until you do it. And once you do it, you don’t want to ever pay full price for travel again!

What are your 2 favorite posts?

  • “Use The 2-Browser Trick To Earn 150,000 Free AAdvantage Miles” The 2-browser trick post was one of my first posts, and I am thrilled that it has over 450 comments and 44 Facebook likes so far. The 75,000 miles sign on bonus with the Citi American Airline personal credit card is the largest untargeted bonus currently available. And you can get all 3 cards by using the 2 browser trick. That’s close to a quarter of a million miles which will get you a LOT of travel!

  • “July App-o-Rama. 6 Cards. 305,000 Miles & Points” I also blogged about my recent round of credit card applications, and I like this post because it shows how easy it is to get lots of miles and points from credit card applications. 6 cards got me 305,000 miles and points. Unbelievable, isn’t it?!

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

If you don’t have a big loan (house, equity etc.) in the next two years, apply for credit cards just for the sign up bonuses. It is the quickest and easiest way to get millions of air miles and hotel points.

For example, you can get 75,000 American Airlines miles by signing up for 1 credit card in 5 minutes.

To put that in perspective, it is ~8,000 miles from the US to Europe. You would have to fly from the US to Europe 7.5 times (including elite status bonuses) to earn 75,000 miles on 1 airline!

Think of how much time and effort 7.5 trans-Atlantic trips would take. And you can get the same amount of miles by signing up for just 1 credit card on your computer! Incredible.

Also, read the frequent flyer blogs. They are written by folks who are passionate about this hobby and have a lot of great information to share!

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

The most memorable travel experiences have been the experiences which miles and points have allowed me to give others. From visiting Emily’s grandparents, to having her dad and mom visit us (sometimes surprising them in First Class). It has been a great opportunity to repay our parents for all they did for us by taking them on holidays and getting them free tickets.

And I love seeing how happy Emily gets when we travel!

If I have to choose the trip which stands out, I’d choose my first trip to India with Emily. We stayed at the Lake Palace in Udaipur (yes, it really is an old palace in the middle of a lake in Rajasthan), went on a camel safari in Jaisalmer, slept in a clay tent, and visited the Taj Mahal in Agra. It was wonderfully romantic and we often look at the pictures to remind ourselves just how lucky we are.

    (Picture at the Lake Palace)

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

Most of my friends and family don’t get it. They understand that I travel a lot using miles and points, but they don’t see how they can do the same themselves. I’m working on them, though.

The few that get it, love it!

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

Be nice. I’m always amazed at how upset and personally affronted folks get when things don’t go their way. Stuff happens, and you’ve got to deal with it. And being nice and friendly will solve more problems than a gruff and adversarial attitude (easier said, I know).

Call center roulette. Hang up the phone and call back. There is a lot of variability in agents’ knowledge, competence, and experience so often times, it is best to hang up and call back if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for.

Research. Research is key, especially when you’re booking award travel. Use tools such as ExpertFlyer, ANA, and KVS to plan your trip. Then call in and book your flights segment by segment starting with the international legs first.

Patience. Your best laid plans will get derailed. But there’s always a work around. At the end of the day, you’re getting an enormous value by using miles and points to have Big Travel with Small Money, so expect to do a little work to get there.

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

  • Buying American Express Traveler’s Checks and walking around the corner to deposit them in my bank.
  • Depositing $1 coins in the bank (the coins were worth more than my beat-up Ford Escort I drove to the bank.)
  • Having a baldness consultation despite having lots of hair on my head. I explained that my grand uncle is bald and I’m worried it could be genetic! I still get junk mail from them 3 years later.
  • Taking part in a focus group for American Airlines.
  • Buying stickers.

What do you know now about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

Your credit score doesn’t take much of a hit if you churn credit cards properly.

Big deals occur rarely, but capitalize on them when they do.

Sometimes it is better to spend miles and save spending cash, than to just hoard them and not use them.

Airlines will (they don’t have a choice given the amount of miles introduced in circulation) increase the amount of miles needed for award redemptions. If there is too much supply of something it is bound to be devalued. Instead, have a back-up plan to use your miles.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

  • That I used to teach Hap-Ki-Do and Tae-Kwon-Do.
  • I’m very absent minded.
  • I’ve eaten a whole jar of Nutella in one session in front of the computer!
  • I got more than my 2,500 calories that day.
  • That I am extremely happy and grateful for all the opportunities which I’ve been presented. I’ve been very lucky in life and wonder what I’ve done to deserve it all.
  • I don’t like peanuts.
  • I like bow-ties and suspenders.

Any parting words?

Mile and points are worthless by themselves. They have value only when used. So use them for a once-in-a-lifetime trip in First Class. Or for several trips within the US. Use them for the Park Hyatt in Paris. Or for the Holiday Inn in Dallas. Do whatever makes sense for YOU.

Research has proven that experiences make us much happier than possessions. So use your miles and points to meet family and friends, and travel to places you’ve always wanted to.

Say hi to grandma over the weekend, whisk your partner off to Bora Bora for an exotic getaway, and send the kids off to Europe for the summer using your miles and points!

You’ll remember those experiences for a long time and your loved ones will too.

    (In a café in Prague)

Thanks for sharing your story, Darius! And check him out at Million Mile

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Love it! Great idea, Gleff. MMS, great advice, stories, and pictures. Couldn’t agree more that it doesn’t matter if you use your points to visit the Park Hyatt Paris or the Holiday Inn in Dallas as long as it makes sense for your family. So true!

  2. Thanks for this, Gary. Darius seems like a nice guy. Wouldn’t mind sitting next to him on a long flights. Now for some of you…

  3. “I explained that my grand uncle is bald and I’m worried it could be genetic!”

    Ha! That one has me searching wikipedia for the definition of what a “grand uncle” might be!

  4. So glad you interviewed Daraius, Gary. To Daraius: I’m VERY happy you didn’t quit after your 3-month trial! Your blog is bookmarked and viewed daily. Congrats on your success and incredible travels.

  5. Thanks for interviewing Daraius. What I find so amusing is his wife’s photo in every trip that he posts on the blog. She always has a big smile extending from one ear to the other. It is so genuine and real. I like the passion and excitement that I see. They seem to be a very nice and perfect couple.

  6. Gary, thanks for bringing us Darius’s interview. I always enjoy reading his interviews and am glad that someone is bringing his story to us.

  7. Hey, everybody, come to Chicago in a month and meet bloggers you read every day such as Daraius, Mommy Points, Gary, Lucky, Brian, and Rick. 2+ days of seminars on all aspects of the points/miles game. You will almost certainly learn enough to return multiple times your cost.

    We are up to 476 attendees with more every day, and there are about 16 days left to register. 74 spots left.

    Info here:

  8. Many of these tips I have also read about on Rick Ingersoll’s blog, Frugal Travel Guy. So who came first to the blogging scene, Rick or Darius? Someone is doing some recycling here, but they are great ideas.

  9. He’s one of my favorites. His “Use The 2-Browser Trick To Earn 150,000 Free AAdvantage Miles” was so well written that even my brother-in-law was able to use it. Nice interview.

  10. @Lawrence well, I dunno, I kinda think *I* was probably first to the miles and points blogging scene, at least among people still doing it. View from the Wing dates to 2002!

  11. “So who came first to the blogging scene, Rick or Darius?”

    Rick has been blogging for year, so he came first. On these specific topics, I could not tell you.

  12. Thanks Gary for interviewing Daraius! He has a wonderful blog and he and his wife Emily are such genuine, lovely people.

  13. October 27th will mark four years of blogging and as of today 1703 posts. We have so many bloggers now that stories get recycled over and over, but each come from a different perspective and each adds their own unique take on each issue. There is only so much new news each day. I’ve tried to diversify my blog with posts from my daughter, a rookie, my son, a true world traveler and humanitarian and a business traveler.

    And as for Gary, he is indeed the grandpa of travel bloggers at the ripe old age of 3_, he tops us all in post count. And a more giving guy, you’ll never find.

  14. This is about Darius. He blogs for the love of it and doesn’t take referrals. Not many other bloggers can say that. Darius, you rock!

  15. Darius is awesome! I just can’t help thinking of Steve Erkel everytime I see his profile picture.

  16. probably out dates all of them. With the added bonus of not adding the “perspective” and backslapping u get here..just sayin

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