TPG staff discuss: What do our loved ones think of our points-and-miles hobby?

Nov 2, 2021

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Points-and-miles enthusiasts are a different breed — particularly TPG staff.

If you’re neck-deep in this hobby, there are probably many things you do that sound extreme to an outsider. Here are some things people have done over the past several years that come to mind — all in the name of discounted travel:

  • Hand-writing personal details on 94 notecards and separately mailing each one to IHG.
  • Booking 10 one-way flights between Madrid and Mallorca, Spain — and never showing up for any of them.
  • Purchasing a cheap business-class flight between Philadelphia and Kyiv with no intention of traveling to Ukraine.

With no context, antics such as these sound pretty bizarre. This is what friends and family see us do — and when we routinely encourage them to do the same, we get the skeptical eyebrow.

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Here are six TPG staffers who discuss how their loved ones feel about this crazy (and often consuming) hobby of points and miles.

What our loved ones think of our points-and-miles obsession

Stella Shon

My friends are always appalled at my travel habits when they see that I’m flying in a lie-flat seat across the Atlantic or I get cleared for a first-class upgrade at the gate (meanwhile, they’re stuck in the last row in basic economy).

When asked how I’m able to travel so well, I always credit it to this lovely hobby of points and miles. I think they’re more amazed than anything, and they want to get into the hobby as well. The biggest detractor for them is the amount of time it takes to devote to this hobby (I mean, I write about this stuff full time, so I completely understand).

Regardless, my friends are thankful to have a free travel agent that is always willing and ready to answer any questions related to cards or traveling.

(Photo courtesy of Stella Shon/The Points Guy)

Related: TPG beginners guide: Everything you need to know about points, miles, airlines and credit cards

Katie Genter

Unlike with most other TPG staffers, my husband is just as into points and miles as I am. In fact, he actually got into the hobby before I did!

But now, we’ve both turned our points-and-miles hobby into careers writing about credit cards and travel rewards. We live on the road as digital nomads, so we maximize earning and redeeming as part of our everyday life. Our families think we are crazy, but they’re also amazed by how much we can travel for relatively little out-of-pocket cost. And they don’t hesitate to ask us when they need help with redeeming their own credit card rewards or finding award availability.

Related: 345 flights, 218 award nights, 132 cities: How I spent 3 years as a global digital nomad

Juan Ruiz

My wife and I are going on 10 years now of strategic spending (using the right cards for appropriate spending categories). I used to put labels on her cards to help her remember which ones to use for everyday expenses. Now she just asks me — because what normal person has time to memorize bonus spending categories for 20 cards?

(Photo by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy)

Related: How I Swipe: TPG credit cards editor Juan Ruiz

Joseph Hostetler

My wife is incredibly understanding of my points-and-miles enthusiasm, and she’s picked up a lot along the way. Some of the more drastic measures I take to earn rewards she thinks are a bit ridiculous, but I don’t hear any complaints when she’s sitting on the deck of an overwater villa.

At one point or another, nearly all my close friends (and plenty of acquaintances) have petitioned me for help to achieve their travel goals. I didn’t ask for this role, but simply mentioning a recent adventure inflames their curiosity — and their suspicion. Flying to Hawaii in a lie-flat business-class seat for $5.60 sounds felonious.

The St. Regis Maldives. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)

Related: Why I lie to my friends and family about miles and points

Eric Rosen

I wanted this answer to come directly from my partner. Here’s what he said:

“I had friends who were into points long before I met you, so I thought you were just one of those travelers who tried to get places the cheapest way possible. I never understood the way those friends did that or had so much interest since I liked to do road trips domestically in my 20s. I always figured I would travel internationally when I had the money to pay for better flights than my friends found.

“Over time, I learned you used points in a more elegant and sophisticated manner to create unique, life-changing experiences when you traveled. I still don’t understand the ins and outs of how many points you need to do what. But I do understand it when you tell me we get to fly in style to fascinating international destinations I always wanted to go to for about the same cost of my old road trips, thanks to points.”

Related: Fly more, spend less: These are some of the best airline awards in the world

Nick Ewen

My wife’s general philosophy in tolerating my points obsession boils down to this: “I’m just here for the free trips.”

A picture of Nick Ewen's vow renewal in the Seychelles
My wife and I renewed our vows during a magical award stay in the Seychelles. (Photo courtesy of Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

Related: From family resorts to private islands: Where to stay in the Seychelles on points

Bottom line

TPG friends and family are largely understanding of the measures we take to discount and upgrade our travel experience. It’s our job and our hobby — and therefore occupies a large portion of our thoughts.

Thanks to everyone who doesn’t just tolerate our eccentric behavior but loves us despite it.

Featured photo by Dougal Waters/Getty Images.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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