Good morning everyone, here is the third Q&A post from my new writers. If you missed the first two, I highly recommending reading Tonei’s Q&A and Whitney’s Q&A. I hope you are all enjoying the extra content this month, I have been very pleased with all the great blog posts and ensuing comments. Hopefully there will be plenty more to come in the new year as well. My next Q&A is with my friend Will…
Hello Travel with Grantians…my name is Will and I have agreed to become one of Grant’s new blog contributors! I am going to write under the pen name, The Tactical Traveler.
I met Grant through reading his blog and conversing via email, and eventually met him in person at an FTU (Frequent Traveler University – a travel conference) in Dallas. Grant and I have since become good friends, have traveled together, and met up at multiple travel conferences (Grant even spent the weekend at my house).
I have been employed in law enforcement for the last 15 years in the Denver area. I think this gives me a unique perspective on travel and the possible safety concerns that come along with traveling, as well as a knowledge base about the laws that surround our hobby of manufactured spending (MS). Anybody who starts into the MS world typically wonders, “Is this legal? Am I breaking any laws?” I can assure you that there is nothing illegal about MS.
Later, we will get into the hurdles we have to overcome in our hobby of MS, because of the
wonderful people that commit credit card theft/fraud to use credit card numbers they obtain illegally. Unfortunately for us, they utilize the same gift cards we need to purchase for our hobby to further their criminality. I will be happy to answer any questions in the future on this topic, but for now, let’s get back to the Q&A that Grant has put together for me.
- Name: Will
- Location: Denver, CO
- Preferred Airline or Alliance: United/Southwest – Star Alliance – Whatever is going my way
- Preferred Hotel: Prefer Hyatt, but anyplace with a bed for a decent price will work
- How did you get into travel hacking? I was researching a trip to Maui and wanted to learn more about frequent flyer programs. During my research, I stumbled upon Travel with Grant. This was at the height of MS with Bluebird/Serve and Vanilla Reloads. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time, but I ordered my first Bluebird without even knowing what I was really ordering. A little more research and I was doing a minimum of 25k a month in MS. The rest is history…
- What is your short-term goal and long-term goal? My short-term goal is to survive all the MS and GC arbitrage deals that have been going on since Black Friday. I have never spent so much money in such a short amount of time in my life. I’ll be happy and sad to see the holidays come to an end. My long-term goal is to visit as many places on my bucket list and continue MS to sustain my points balances.
- What has been your biggest accomplishment travel-wise since getting into travel hacking? You would think it would be a place I have traveled, but my biggest accomplishment has been co-founding a Meetup group, Front Range Travel Hackers, based here in Colorado (check out our private Facebook group: FB – Front Range Travel Hackers). We try to meet once a month, but we typically organize a meetup every six weeks or so. I thoroughly enjoy getting together with like-minded people and discussing our hobby. It doesn’t hurt that we have some of the best microbreweries/pubs in the nation to meet at either! Please feel free to sign up for either group and if you ever find yourself in the Denver area when we are hosting a Meetup, drop in and we’ll buy you a beer and hopefully provide some engaging conversation!
- Where else have you been able to go because of travel hacking? Up to this point, I have mainly been flying domestically. I have been to Vegas, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Maui (twice), Anchorage, and assorted other domestic locations. I also took a trip on Amtrak from Denver to San Francisco on the California Zephyr with Grant, and our friend Nigel (who has written a few guest posts too).
- What vacations are you currently planning? I am planning on expanding my horizons this year and hitting Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but in all reality my current vacation planning is heading to my parents house for Christmas in the mountains above Ogden, UT. One of the greatest things about travel hacking is the ability to fly myself and my family around with minimal expenditures.
- Are you chasing status? No, I pay attention to the random opportunities that come up to get a status match here and there, but it does not play a big part in my travel planning.
- What are your main channels of manufactured spending? My main channels for MS are giftcards.com, giftcardmall.com, office supply stores, grocery stores, and other local stores. I try and utilize portals, and in-store rebates whenever possible.
- What is your routine for MS? I try and max out every avenue of online/local MS every month, and take advantage of whatever specials are going on that allow me to make money, instead of losing money on MS. I do not include the points/miles that I earn when calculating my costs for MS. I mainly liquidate through money orders (MO). I am extremely organized in my MS tactics and track everything via spreadsheets. I recently started dabbling in gift card arbitrage, and employ the same tactics that I do in my MS. My goal is to always break even or make money with my MS / gift card arbitrage.
- What is your routine for credit card applications? I don’t have a specific routine for credit cards apps. I went through a divorce back in 2009 that resulted in a bankruptcy (BK) filing. This created several issues for me obtaining new credit, as you can imagine, but I found ways around the limitations with the help of family members. There were a couple of high value banks (Chase and AMEX) that were included in my BK and they refused to conduct business with me (understandably). I obtained a few cards from different banks (my credit scores are back in the high 700’s), but decided to wait until I was able to get approved for a premium Chase card (needed transferability) before applying for more cards, due to the 5/24 rule. I am happy to report that I was recently approved for a Chase Ink Plus Business Credit Card and I am currently strategizing what my next credit card moves will be.
Closing with Liam Neeson’s voice from Taken…
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know where you want to go. If you are looking to book a flight, I can tell you I don’t have money. What I do have is a very unique set of skills that helped me amass a few million points/miles over a few months. Points/miles that let me fly for free all over the world. Skills that make me a nightmare for airline profits. If you follow my methods, that will be the end of you paying for flights. But if you don’t, I will not bat an eye or think twice about you languishing in steerage, while I am slumbering in my first class suite.”
In all seriousness…I am very excited to be a part of Travel with Grant and look forward to many years of interacting with all of you around this awesome hobby of traveling, and ways to minimize the cost!