I'm so glad I got to sit down with Trevor of MileMethod.com and talk travel and credit card rewards. We've been through some amazing adventures thanks to his guidance with picking the best credit cards for travel rewards.
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Trevor Fenner: Hey guys. Welcome to the eCommerce Paradise Podcast. Today on the show I have a special guest. He is a serial credit card reward hacking ninja. This guy has been doing some crazy stuff on ... he's actually helped me achieve over a million credit card reward miles in the last year.
Trevor Fenner: I've been able to fly to all these countries around the world, and stay in five-star hotels. Including the W on the beach in Barcelona for free. It's been pretty insane. I wanted to bring him on the podcast to teach you guys all the crazy things about credit card reward hacking that's possible out there. Welcome to the podcast, Trevor.
Trevor Wright: I'm glad you had me. I'm glad you invited me.
Trevor Wright: I didn't have a chance to look at your stash. I wasn't aware that you did over a million. I knew you were doing well, but that's ... I've been following your Instagram, you're having fun.
Trevor Fenner: It's been pretty crazy, man. Ever since we've gotten on board with your program it's made it a lot easier for us as well to get all these credit cards and to manage them and stuff like that. Trevor is the founder of a credit card reward program called MileMethod. So if you haven't heard of MileMethod you can go check it out. It's MileMethod.com.
Trevor Fenner: What he does is he helps people basically to set up a program, so you can actually know which cards to apply for. Then you can go about applying for them, and you have a system for applying for these cards that are very unique. Also, know how to manage those cards, and they also know how to go ahead and ... basically, what they call credit card training.
Trevor Fenner: Trevor, I wanted to see if you could get started with the podcast, let our listeners know how you got started with this whole thing in the first place? What drove you to it and what attracted you to it in the first place?
Trevor Wright: Yeah. In the shower just now before I was getting ready for the podcast, I was thinking if you asked me this question, how would I go about answering it? Was there an aha moment where, yes, I am going to deep dive on credit cards and start learning how to travel for free, and there was. Depending on how much time we have, I could go all the way back, but I'll give you the fast forward version.
Trevor Wright: I grew up in Nebraska. My dad and my parents had always traveled. When I was younger there was a shelf of all the National Geographic's. So even as a kid, 10 years old, I was flipping through. Looking at all these incredible places that were not small-town Nebraska. Even when I was a kid I had it in my mind that I wanted to do that. To see the world, to travel.
Trevor Wright: Later, in high school, I studied in Barcelona. That opened my eyes, that wow, there's a bigger world out there. Not just rural Nebraska. So because of Barcelona, I studied in college, I went and studied in Mexico and Costa Rica. Furthered that whole cliché world citizen perspective.
Trevor Wright: I ended up working for the same study abroad company that I studied within Mexico and Costa Rica. So I was recruiting students to travel to go on these semester programs, year-long programs. But as I was doing that job I realized it's not quite the freedom I was looking for. Even though with that job I was traveling through Europe. I was traveling internationally and also domestically to universities all over the US, but it still wasn't [inaudible 00:03:16] I wanted.
Trevor Wright: So I ended up saving money with that job. Quit when I had a bit of money in the bank. I did a two-and-a-half-year bicycle trip from Columbia to Argentina, which was amazing. At this point, I'm still ... I know nothing about credit cards. This was 2008, 2007 I believe. After two and a half years of this incredible trip across all of the South American countries, I ended up in Buenos Aires living there for four months. And as you can I imagine I was running out of money.
Trevor Wright: I just started Googling. This, at this point, was 2010. I had to make a decision, do I go back? Do I find a job? Or do I try to find a way to continue with this travel? This ultimate freedom that I experienced while doing the bicycle trip. So I Googled. I learned that there are these people who somehow can fly for free. I started reading the forums. I started becoming obsessed looking for obscure blogs, and eventually self-taught how to do it.
Trevor Wright: I actually applied for my first credit cards from Argentina, so that was 2011. Fast forward from 2011 until 2018. I had been applying for about three to five credit cards every 90 days. To date, I've been approved for 117 credit cards and visited 136 countries. None of that would've been possible without the credit cards because I'm able to travel, fly basically for free. Even with annual fees, I have been averaging $30 per flight.
Trevor Wright: That's the fast-forward version of how to I got to where I am now. Now, as you said, I'm helping people do what I do.
Trevor Fenner: Some pretty awesome travel stories you've got there, man. Bicycling across South America, that's pretty cool. Oh man. What was that like? Can you talk about that a little bit, what that must've been like?
Trevor Wright: Yeah. That set the precedent of my travel style you could say. It is ironic that now because of my business I do promote luxury hotels. Because when a luxury hotel, say a beach resort, cost less than a dormitory bed, that's something I'm interested. Why wouldn't you do that?
Trevor Wright: People, they assume that I'm a luxury guy, that, that's what I do. They don't know that for two and a half years I slept in a tent beside the road. I actually think it helps my travel perspective being on both extremes. Having camped literally on the side of highways in Brazil, and in remote villages of Bolivia. Through the highlands of Peru running into grandmothers who don't speak Spanish. They only speak Quechua, that type of thing.
Trevor Wright: Then also now, staying in five-star resorts that can cost up to $900 a night, there's no reason you have to pick one or the other. It can be both. I think that's an important perspective to remember. Because I've had some recent conversations where even potential MileMethod clients, they come to me and they say, "Well, I'm not a luxury guy. I don't want to stay in hotels."
Trevor Wright: I understand the perspective, but I try to convince them that if you can have the option at some point ... Maybe you want to get away with your partner. Maybe you want to have some good Wi-Fi and relax. Maybe you want to go to some remote island. Well, it's gonna be very expensive if you have to pay for the hotels. It's always good to have the option to have free hotels. Why not? So, why not, really?
Trevor Fenner: [crosstalk 00:06:58] exactly. I've been on both extremes. I really like camping. Camping's a lot of fun, backpacking too. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest backpacking a lot, staying up in the mountains and stuff like that. It's definitely a lot of fun. But there's something else about-
Trevor Wright: I mean it would be-
Trevor Fenner: ... luxury hotels that just ... it's pretty awesome, man.
Trevor Wright: I mean really when I stop and think about what we do, because this is what you do now too, there's no reason we should be able to be staying in these incredible places for free. This is a privilege that Americans have. I'm doing my part to try to convince people, Americans with decent credit, that look, this is an opportunity and it's not gonna be around forever. The truth is, it is getting harder.
Trevor Wright: When I started in 2011, a lot of ... the getting credit card bonuses multiple times, spending tricks, a lot of these things are disappearing. So it really is one of those things that you should get in while you can. Another example I like to give people is airline miles and hotel points. It's a type of currency. So just like money, you don't start working when you want money ... when you want to buy something. You work beforehand, you earn it, you have it in the bank. Then it's there available to you when you want to spend it.
Trevor Wright: Same thing with airline miles and hotel points. Earn them now. You have your stash ready. Then when you want to take that trip, they're there. You spend them.
Trevor Fenner: That's awesome. I think one of the biggest myths for certainly something I always thought of before I got into credit card reward hacking was, how can you possibly apply for so many cards and still maintain a good credit score? Because the way we're brought up and stuff, we always are set to believe when we get out of high school that the credit score is gonna go down when you apply for new cards. Can you talk on that topic a little bit and why it's actually not that way?
Trevor Wright: Yeah. There's a lot thing to unpackage in what you just said. One of my biggest challenges with what I do as a business, helping people do what I do, earning tons of airline miles and hotel points, is really getting over the hurdle of convincing people that this is real. There's a lot of things where you ... it sounds too good to be true.
Trevor Wright: Credit card travel hacking, which is not a term I really like, it's one of those things where it shouldn't be possible where you apply for a single credit card and you get a round-trip to Europe for $20 and taxes. It sounds too good to be true, but it's real. Not only that, you can take it to a level where you're not just getting one round-trip to Europe. But you're getting two and a half round-trips to Europe every 90 days. That's possible.
Trevor Wright: One thing that you said just now is travel hacking. I think that's the main term that people ... Once they start trying to dig into what is this whole airline miles, hotel point thing, you'll see travel hacking thrown around a lot. I don't like that term because of travel hacking ... hacking in general, you think of computer people who hack into systems. It's generally illegal.
Trevor Wright: What I do with MileMethod, it's not illegal, one. And two, it's exactly the opposite. It's playing by the bank's rules so well that they want to give you credit card bonuses. It's actually playing so strictly by the rules that you appear to be the perfect customer. Not illegal. And time and time again, they will give you bonuses.
Trevor Wright: So there's a certain structure that you have to do by spreading out applications. By strategizing with a longterm plan, which is why my service is 24 months. And able to skirt ... to stay off the bank radar you could say, by following the rules so well that they would never even consider denying you a sign-up bonus. That's the idea behind my MileMethod.
Trevor Wright: There's a lot of behind the scene's knowledge that goes into that. But of course, that's why people use my service because they don't want to learn what I know. It takes time.
Trevor Fenner: Honestly, I think a lot of the issue is just in general with financial education, a lot of people don't have really good deep personal finance education. That's just because it's not really taught in high school. It's not even taught in college unless you go to take it as an elective. Can you talk about maybe your background with personal finance? What got you into understanding your finances better and stuff like that? Maybe, did that lead to the credit card reward program stuff, and understanding the banking systems better?
Trevor Wright: I guess my background ... I went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I have an International Business Degree.
Trevor Fenner: [inaudible 00:11:49].
Trevor Wright: Which, doesn't have much to do with credit cards or personal finance. I was even talking with someone recently, that in business school they don't teach us how to do taxes. So you're exactly right, when it comes to formal education, a lot of the things we're told are not true. Especially, when it comes to credit cards, there's a lot of myths and misinformation going around.
Trevor Wright: The number one thing that I hear is so many people are afraid to apply for credit cards and to cancel credit cards. Because they believe those two factors will destroy their credit.
Trevor Fenner: [inaudible 00:12:27].
Trevor Wright: Applying for credit cards over the long term actually improves your credit scores. Canceling can lower your credit scores in the short-term, but it doesn't affect it over the long term. So again, that goes back to knowing how to structure these credit card applications if you're gonna be applying for three to five credit cards every 90 days as I do. And which I have been doing for over seven years now.
Trevor Fenner: So we can easily sign-up for these credit card reward programs ... I mean sort of easily, and then get the credit cards and get the bonuses. But one big question I hear a lot is how do the banks make money off this whole situation? I mean they have to be making money somehow. And like you said, they see us as the ideal clients for them. So how does that make sense from the bank's perspective?
Trevor Wright: That's a good point. If it seems too good to be true, why does this exist? That's a valid question. There are a few different parts to that. One, is the banks are not stupid. They are run by very smart people. They know statistically that most people, they will profit off of. Because most people, they will fall into the trap of credit cards.
Trevor Wright: Before I take on new clients, I actually discuss how to not fall into the traps? What are the traps? Overspending. Not paying off your bills every month. That's basically it. If you pay off your bills every single month I don't ... the fine prints, the APR, all the legal jargon that you see at the bottom of the credit card applications, none of that matters. None of it, as long as you pay off your credit card every single month.
Trevor Wright: If you don't and you start carrying balances then you get hit with interests. If you're paying minimums, of course, you're gonna end up paying a lot more, and then late fees, that type of thing. But the number one way to avoid all of that, and only receive the benefits of credit cards is simply pay off your bill in full every month.
Trevor Wright: One of my screening questions when people come to me and they want to start earning airline miles and hotel points, I always ask them, "Do you have debt?" If they do, I ask them, "Why and how much?" I've unfortunately had to disqualify a lot of people and say, "I'm sorry. This is not for you. I think you should focus on paying down your debt." Because someone with debt, if you start giving them five new credit cards every 90 days, unfortunately, they're probably gonna go farther into debt. So-
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, that's important.
Trevor Wright: So to go back to go back to your question, banks make money off of the interests, late payments, and annual fees. Although, I would say about 95% of credit cards ... I mean I can't give an exact number, but the great majority say 90% of credit cards, you can apply for them. Receive their sign-up bonus and all the benefits without paying the annual fee. That's another misconception.
Trevor Wright: With MileMethod most credit cards are canceled at 10 months and you never pay the annual fee. Some of them you pay the annual fee the first month, but the sign-up bonus is worth multiple times more than that annual fee, so it's worth it. Say you pay $75, but you get the equivalent of a one-way to Europe. Or a domestic round-trip that might cost $400. So you pay $75, but you get a $400 flight. That's still a great deal.
Trevor Fenner: That is a good deal. That leads me to my next question perfectly. It says on your website that you're able to average $30 per flight to 115 plus countries. Now my curiosity in this, of course, is there some special way you go about booking the flights, like through the reward travel programs? Maybe some sort of a special ... away you go about doing it that you can help [inaudible 00:16:18]?
Trevor Wright: Yeah, I can give some advice about how to go about doing that. I should say, I'm very obsessed with how I book my trips. Even just the other day I had some downtime and I started looking, how can I do a Caribbean Island hopping trip? I started piecing together an island-to-island for my next Caribbean trip.
Trevor Wright: Part of it is ... it's definitely knowledge. It's knowing which type of mile to use to which destination. Luckily, there are websites, there's software. There's a lot of ways to do this that anyone can do it. Not just someone who's obsessed like I am.
Trevor Wright: The number one thing I guess if I were to give you actionable steps, there's a website called FlyerMiler.com. Maybe we can link to this later. But it's a website where you can type in your origin and your destination. Let's say you're flying from Bangkok to let's say Madrid. You put in the airport code for Bangkok, BKK, and then you put in the airport code for Madrid, MAD. It will tell you from top to bottom which airlines fly that route. And how many miles are required for an economy, business, or first class?
Trevor Wright: So you can choose economy, you can business, or first class. It'll tell you which airlines fly that route and also how many miles are required for that route. That's a great way to know the value of your miles. I don't like to get into the technicals of one mile equals 3 cents or 2 cents. Because it really varies depending on how you use them. But if you know that a flight from the United States to Europe is 30,000 one-way, then you can look at a credit card sign-up bonus that is worth 60,000 miles and you know that that's very simply a round-trip to Europe.
Trevor Wright: That's how I like to look at sign-up bonuses. Like, I apply for this credit card, round-trip to Europe. I apply for this credit card, that's a one-way to Australia. I think it simplifies the whole process. Then also there are other websites where ... and Google is your friend. You can Google ... let's say you have 50,000 American airline miles, you can type into Google, best American airline redemption's. Simple. And you will see many, many how-to articles of the best value to use those American airline miles.
Trevor Wright: So I think between those two websites anybody can get extreme value from their miles. Also, I will say, there's a nice website for hotels as well. Because, as with MileMethod-
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Trevor Wright: For hotels as well, because as with MileMethod, because you have to space out credit card applications, you're not just going to apply for airline miles back to back to back to back, because of the way the banking system works with approvals, you have to space them out with also hotel bonuses. So you might get 100,000 Hilton points or 30,000 Hyatt. There's a lot of different really great hotel chains. So there's a website called awardmapper.com and it's great. It's very user-friendly. It's not always 100% up to date, but I found it to be pretty accurate and you just type in your destination. Let's say Bali, you type in Bali and it will show you all the award hotels in the region that you want to visit, and then you can start looking down the list of hotels and you can start seeing which offer the best value. So even so Bali as an example, there is a 5,000 per night Hilton right next to the airport with free breakfast, if you have the credit card, I think you've stayed there, right?
Trevor Fenner: Pretty sure.
Trevor Wright: Or like another in Kuala Lumpur there's a 10,000 Hilton per night DoubleTree, which you were just at.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah. That one was really nice.
Trevor Wright: It's an incredible hotel and it's only 10,000 per night with free breakfast. So just to put that in perspective, there are multiple credit cards that offer 100,000 points per night or 100,000 signup bonus. So one credit card can get you over 10 free nights in Kuala Lumpur or 20 free nights in Bali with free breakfasts. It's incredible. So again, I don't think people should overlook the benefits of having hotel points because it really does come in handy.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, definitely during our travels in Europe, it was really nice to have the hotel rewards available just because you know hotels in Europe in the summertime can be so expensive and being able to book a really nice hotel, I think the W in Barcelona was an $800 a night hotel or something like that. That room that we had overlooking the beach, that was a pretty incredible man. It was like this big suite of a room. It was beautiful.
Trevor Wright: I know that hotel. It's very nice.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, the location's nice too. Yeah, definitely handy, Europe is cool.
Trevor Wright: On the flip side, so the examples I just gave are "lower end" hotels because hotels in Asia require fewer nights because they're based on the local economy, which is also cheaper. Another benefit is let's say you want to go away upscale. So for example, I've stayed in many Park Hyatts around the world, Moscow, the Maldives, Vienna, so all these hotels are 700, 800 Euros per night. So there are certain credit card bonuses which give you say two free nights at any hotel within the hotel brand. So let's say two free nights at any Hilton in the world or two free nights at any Hyatt in the world, these free nights are incredibly valuable for honeymoons, or really special occasions because if you're in a partner situation or married, one person can get two free nights, the other person can also get two free nights. So you can stay four nights at a $900 per night hotel for two credit cards. It's really nice, especially for the hotels on honeymoons, I think.
Trevor Fenner: That's awesome. Yeah, it kind of felt like our whole summer in Europe was a big honeymoon again just because of all the award travel we were able to book and stuff like that.
Trevor Wright: Yeah, the hotel points, they shouldn't be overlooked. That's for sure.
Trevor Fenner: So, I mean you've talked about some amazing trips you've been on. Can you, I know this is going to be a hard question to answer, but can you maybe break down at least one of your favorite trips that you've been on? Maybe, you've got a lot of them, so.
Trevor Wright: Yeah, as I said, since really since high school and since I studied in Barcelona, I've kind of been nonstop travel you could say with periods of stops along the way. When I hear this question, it makes me think there are places that you stay and are places that you visit. So in that way, the way you travel and the way I travel are very similar because I will stay somewhere for a couple months, try to be productive, get some work is done and then I'll go crazy. Then I'll go visit eight or nine, 10 countries at a time and then I'll stay somewhere for a month or three months. It's really hard to say which style is "better" because they're very different. For a living, I love Latin America. Columbia is incredible. All of Brazil is amazing. These are two places that just the culture, you step out into the street and you feel that this is special. The music, the food, the way people interact. There's just Brazil, Latin America, in general, is very special to me.
Trevor Wright: I also studied Spanish in a university. I have a Spanish degree, so I love to be in Spanish speaking countries where I feel like I can integrate, where I can make Spanish speaking friends. That's very different than Asia where it's very exotic, but I don't always feel like I can integrate as well. But as far as crazy trips, when I think about it, my dad and I had been traveling a lot. That's another benefit of having millions of miles and points that you can use them for your friends and family. So, on some of the more interesting trips I've been traveling with my dad, which is also very special, especially as he gets older and more frumpy and less likely to do these crazy adventures.
Trevor Wright: So my dad and I did the Trans Siberian from Moscow to Beijing. So traveling across Russia with my dad who grew up in the Soviet Union era, the Cold War era. It was really interesting to see it through his perspective. On that same trip, we spent 10 days in Mongolia, which is one of the most unique places in the world. It's otherworldly. It's like living in National Geographic. You see nomads and yurts. Of the 10 days, we rented a van with a Mongolian driver who didn't speak English. So for 10 days we signed languaging with our driver. Every single night we were staying in random yurts. We would just point to a yurt in the distance and we would try to explain to our driver, it's bedtime. We want to sleep and he would pull off the road if there was a road. There's not always roads in Mongolia. He would get out, talk to whoever owned the yurt and say, "Hey, these crazy foreigners, they want to stay here tonight. Is it okay?" Every single time the Mongolians said yes. So for seven or eight nights, every single night I was drinking vodka, getting drunk with Mongolians who didn't speak any English with my dad. It was a great trip.
Trevor Fenner: That's awesome.
Trevor Wright: Then I could go on and on. Madagascar, Seychelles. Some of these places that you never think in your life that you would visit are as incredible as you think they would be. It's really a blessing to have the miles and points to do that.
Trevor Fenner: For me, one of the biggest struggles with travel is always coming up with the visa and all that stuff. Can you talk about that maybe a little bit, just so people are prepared to what they need to go through in order to travel to these exotic far off places?
Trevor Wright: Sure. So again, there are websites that simplify and all of this and it's also another privilege that we have as Americans that we still have a very world friendly passport, so there's a lot of places in the world where you don't need a visa, you just fly, show up where you do a visa on arrival at the airport and the way to research that beforehand because of course, you don't want to just fly and hope that you can get in for free. There's a website that I use, there are many websites, but I always go to visahq.com and you just plug in American visiting this country and then it will give you the whole rundown, if you have a 30-day visa-free or if there's a visa on arrival or if you need to get a visa. So it's really, visas can be complicated. But with the website, it tells you to step by step what you need to do if anything at all. So it's not, in my mind, it's not really an issue unless you're going somewhere crazy like Saudi Arabia where it can be a challenge. Yeah.
Trevor Fenner: Have you ever traveled to the Middle East?
Trevor Wright: Yeah. Every country except Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Yemen, and Iraq, so yeah.
Trevor Fenner: Okay. Did you feel comfortable out there? Was it a good experience? Was it different?
Trevor Wright: Yeah, it was amazing. I would say, of all of the Middle East or Gulf countries, Egypt was incredible. It's like I said, it's just one of those places where you're walking through history and it's weird, it's a strange mix of modern and ancient and traditional culture with neon lights and fast food. Also, another benefit of Egypt is because of its reputation, it's not really a highly traveled place anymore besides perhaps the Pyramids. But when I was in Cairo, as I do with most places, I just show up, walk around, pick a destination and just or pick a direction and just start walking. If they see a bunch of people eating at a restaurant, it's probably good, walk in, get some food.
Trevor Wright: In Cairo, I remember I had multiple people would just come up to me and say, "Hey, what are you doing? How are you? Where are you from? Come drink tea with us," and that's what I did. I walked around, I had tea with random people wearing traditional Egyptian clothes. They're very curious and then at night, I would stay at the incredible Hilton. So you can mix it up. I'm staying in the Hilton, but I'm also walking the normal neighborhoods of the city and it's fascinating, just walking and looking around. It's incredible. I recommend Egypt and also the hotel points are a lot like Asia. There's a lot of hotel points, a lot of hotels where it's only 5,000 per night, per 10,000 per night or 15,000 per night and that is nothing. With the number of hotel points you could have with a couple of credit cards, you could stay in Egypt for weeks for free. It's a good destination.
Trevor Fenner: Awesome. I definitely have it on my list. So you've been-
Trevor Wright: Also, sorry, I hear there's good scuba diving. I didn't have the chance to go scuba diving, but it is a destination. I kind of regret that I didn't do that.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, there are sharks out there. The scuba diving instructor I got my advanced PADI from in the Philippines actually went to Egypt while they closed down Boracay for the summer and he posted a lot of cool pictures and videos from scuba diving around there.
Trevor Wright: There are sharks, I had no idea.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, apparently. It's crazy. He posted a picture of a shark. I was like, "Well, okay, in the Mediterranean." I'm not exactly sure where it was, but it was somewhere around there.
Trevor Wright: That's amazing.
Trevor Fenner: So, you've been to Africa a few times, right? So can you talk more about traveling through Africa, what it's like to the rest of that continent? I know it's one of the craziest far out places for most people to visit.
Trevor Wright: Yeah. So I spent a month in Cape Town, which isn't ... Okay, I also, so I told you I go places, stay for a month or two and then just do a crazy trip visiting many countries in a row, maybe staying five days or a week or even three days. So I stayed in Cape Town for a month, but before that, I actually rented a car one way and drove from Johannesburg through Lesotho and Swaziland. So I spent I believe it was 10 days driving from Johannesburg through the countries which are in the middle of South Africa. They're surrounded by South Africa on the way to Cape Town, stayed there for a month and then continued traveling to other African countries after my month-long stay, which was also a month long of free hotels in downtown Cape Town. I stayed at a Protea Hotel which is part of the Marriott chain or over for one month on points.
Trevor Wright: But that was another one of those memorable trips driving 10 days across South Africa, in Lesotho especially, I was very surprised because I didn't do too much research. I just checked is it possible to rent an economy car and go through the country through the mountains? Yes. So I did it and it's a very remote place. You'd be driving on road, you don't see other cars. You turn around a corner, there's a dropoff and then there's a sheepherder standing on the road. It was a unique place. As far as Africa for travel, I don't know if there's a way to generalize because of course there's a lot of different countries, I haven't visited most of them. I've probably visited 15 countries in Africa. I would say yeah, it's safe. I think there's a lot of good opportunities or good redemptions with airline miles on flights that would otherwise be very expensive.
Trevor Wright: So Africa is one of those destinations where the intra Africa flights, they can be $400 or 15,000 miles one way, which is again, nothing. So it's a good use of miles to visit different places in Africa. But yeah, the countries I visited with some common sense of course because anytime you're traveling places where you stick out a lot like a white Caucasian in Zambia for example, you're not going to blend in, you're just not. People notice you. That combined with poverty, you do have to be smart about how you travel, so. But I recommend it. I think everyone should visit. It's a very different place depending on where you go.
Trevor Fenner: Your most recent trip was actually, like you were talking about before, kind of some island hopping. It was really cool. You had the map out and it showed you jumping around all sorts of islands in the South Pacific before you made your way back to the US. Can you talk about that a little bit? I think it was a little bit of a unique experience for you, right? [inaudible 00:34:12] cool islands.
Trevor Wright: So you and I and Juliana, we met in Bali. So this was three months ago, two months ago. I'm in Denver, Colorado visiting my parents right now. This is one of those trips that I planned in advanced because again, these are ... To island hop like that, the paid flights would be very expensive. But I visited, I would have to look it up, but I think I traveled to eight different countries plus Alaska for $68 total. So it was, I think 150,000 miles plus $68 to visit places like Conga, Vanuatu, Samoa, American Samoa. I'd have to look. I almost forget where I was. But yeah, that was kind of a dream trip. I didn't know much about these destinations, but when I looked on a map I saw there's a remote island. I Wikipedia, learn a little bit about it and I decided, "Yeah, that's definitely a place I would like to see."
Trevor Wright: Then here's another tip. If you're unsure of how to redeem your miles, this is actually a very good tip, so let's say you're flying from Bali, you can type in Bali airport Wiki, just Google it, Bali airport Wiki, and you can do this for any destination. If you're flying from Denver, you say Denver airport Wiki. Every airport Wiki sites or page has a list of airlines and destinations. So this way you can piece together itineraries. So the way the airline miles work is a lot of them, the majority of them are region to region. So when I say the United States to Europe is 30,000, it's always 30,000 with most airline programs. So that same paid flight, depending on the date, it might be $1,000 or it might be $400, but it's always going to be 30,000 miles. So if you're trying to fly from Bali to anywhere, you can look at the destinations on the Wiki page and you can see which airlines fly to what destinations.
Trevor Wright: So let's say you're using United miles, United, there's different airline alliances and this might get a little complicated, but it's not once you understand it. So United is an American airline and they have a United and American Airline award program, but they're part of Star Alliance and Star Alliance, they have partners all over the world. So you can use United miles even though it's an American Airline, you can use those miles to fly anywhere in the world as long as you redeem them on other Star Alliance partners. So if you know what those partners are, you can piece together itineraries from Bali to Bangkok, Bangkok to any other destination as long as they're all Star Alliance. I hope that's not confusing for listeners. That's how I pieced together the itinerary throughout the South Pacific.
Trevor Wright: Air New Zealand, for example, is a Star Alliance partner, so I used United miles on Air New Zealand, and then you can piece together trips from Bali to Tonga, and then you type in Tonga airport Wiki and then you can see a list of all the airlines and the destinations from Tonga and then you can decide, "Okay, I want to fly to this destination." I hope that's not confusing for listeners.
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:38:04]
Trevor Wright: Destination. I hope that's not confusing for the listeners.
Trevor Fenner: It's definitely confusing in the beginning, but as you said, once you get used to the whole way the airlines are structured, I think it makes a lot more sense.
Trevor Wright: Right. And I should say, for my [inaudible 00:38:15] clients, I do understand that that initially, even the concept. I remember in 2011, I didn't get it. I thought how could I use American Airlines on Qantas to Australia? It's not the same airline. How does that work? But American Airlines is one world, Qantas is one world, so you can use miles on those same airlines. So because I understand that can be a little bit confusing at first, I'm constantly helping clients.
Trevor Wright: They write to me and say, "Hey Trevor, what's the best way to Europe? I have 50,000 American Airline miles, 30,000 United. What's the best redemption?" So because I've been doing this a long time, I can reply and say, "You know what? I think the 30,000 American Airlines is your best option. You should book that." So I'm always available to help people. For me, it's not that hard.
Trevor Fenner: Awesome. Yeah, you were mentioning on your social media that if anybody has a flight they want to book, say the US to Europe or something like that, to write you first to see if they can get a discount or get a lower price on it. So do you provide that outside of your service as well? Or is it exclusive to members only?
Trevor Wright: No. So I'll explain that because it's skirting the rules a little bit. As I said, I book flights for my parents. My dad refuses to fly economy, so he's flies business class and first class only. He's spoiled. Ever since I booked him on Emirates first class, which has an onboard shower and a stand-up bar. Ever since I booked him on that trip, he thinks that every airline should have a shower, which it's not realistic. Emirates is one of the best airlines, first class. So he's spoiled. He only flies business. I lost track of what I was saying. Sorry.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, finding the discounts for people [inaudible 00:40:16].
Trevor Wright: So you have ... I also-
Trevor Fenner: Emirates is pretty awesome.
Trevor Wright: I'm actually, this is the Emirates first class pajamas I'm wearing [crosstalk 00:40:25]. It's 11:00 PM I think in Denver, so these are the pajamas that Emirates first class gives you when you fly.
Trevor Fenner: That's awesome.
Trevor Wright: So my point was that you can use your airline miles for other people. So you can book flights in other people's names. That's perfectly allowed. What is not allowed is for people to pay you for those flights. So, assuming that no airline CEO is going to hear this podcast, I occasionally offer to book flights for people and give them a discount. So any flight that you can find, I can potentially beat because you're looking at the retail prices, but I'm looking at the award prices, which are basically free to me.
Trevor Wright: Let's say someone needs a one way to Europe that costs $800. I might say to that person, "You know what? I can do that flight for $600." The exact same flight. They don't pay me. I just book it for them. Shh. But that's one way you can use your miles for friends or family, or make a little side money, unofficial side money.
Trevor Fenner: That's awesome.
Trevor Wright: Using your miles to help people fly cheaper.
Trevor Fenner: It's a win-win.
Trevor Wright: It's a win-win and also I can do that for non-Americans who don't have the ability to apply for credit cards and get signup bonuses.
Trevor Fenner: Right.
Trevor Wright: So I would say most people who contact me for that secret discount are Europeans who, they can't get the miles.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah. That was another thing I wanted to talk about, how you really can't get these American credit card reward outside of the US. What's up with that?
Trevor Wright: I haven't looked into it for the exact specifics of it, but that's true. Mostly because the regulations and banking systems are different. I have tried to think about it. So why, for example, does Europe not have lucrative signup bonuses like we have in the United States? I don't have a great answer to that, other than I think a lot of European governments are actually trying to protect their population. They don't want their citizens to have 20 different credit cards and get themselves into credit card debt.
Trevor Wright: Whereas, in the United States, a lot of the banking people are very close to the politicians. So they're not so much looking out for the population, they're looking out for the bankers. That's the best explanation I can find.
Trevor Fenner: Crazy man. A crazy system we got here in the US.
Trevor Wright: I would love to hear any listeners if they have a more concrete answer on why this doesn't exist in Europe or Australia. It does, to a certain extent, exist in Canada, a little bit in England and the UK. But, not even a fifth of the value that you can get from US credit card signup bonuses.
Trevor Fenner: Got it. Yeah, it's interesting to me to think how different the banking systems are in other countries. The US is so different. The US, yet at the same time, has the highest national debt and it's still going up.
Trevor Wright: Yeah. That's at a government level. It's probably true at a consumer level as well. I haven't seen the most recent statistics, but I do know that 67% of Americans are not eligible for mile [inaudible 00:44:00] because they don't have high enough credit scores to be approved for these premium sign up bonuses.
Trevor Fenner: And going along that same vein, do you think that there's any kind of a recession that might come that might hinder people's ability to do this kind of stuff in the future? Or what effect that will have on people if it did happen?
Trevor Wright: Well, they say, I mean this is a little bit above my pay grade I guess. My specialty is learning how to maneuver the credit card system.
Trevor Fenner: We're getting into economics here.
Trevor Wright: Yeah. I'm more into it than you would think because I've been obsessed with Bitcoin lately, so I'm learning a lot about Austrian economics and that type of thing as opposed to the system we have now. Would a recession affect us? They say that student loan is the next big crisis. I even saw today that the number of 65-year-olds applying for bankruptcy has tripled since 1991. And that's due to higher health care costs to pensions being cut to people not saving for retirement. There's a lot of factors involved in all this.
Trevor Wright: Luckily, I keep it simple. I don't even, I don't care about the fine print on credit cards. If you pay off your monthly bills in full, there are only benefits to credit cards. You can get the signup bonus. You can get the free checked bag. You can get airport lounge access. You can get free hotel upgrades. All of that, there will be no cost unless there's an upfront annual fee. But if you pay off your monthly bills in full. If you can do that, you can greatly, greatly, greatly benefit from credit cards.
Trevor Wright: If you don't pay off the monthly bill, you're going to end up paying interest. You're going to end up paying late fees. So pay off your monthly bills.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, truly. Honestly, that was the number one thing that drove me crazy when I was in college was debt. And I was just really happy to finally get out of it. Then I just never wanted to get back in it again, but a lot of people don't have that luxury I guess. When they get out of high school or whatever, they have to pay loans to get into school and then after school, you want to get a car and you want to get a house and all that's a loan right? So it's the typical American dream kind of leads into this mountain of debt. The word mortgage itself means until death right.
Trevor Fenner: So, that's kind of what it's for.
Trevor Wright: Yeah. I want to disagree with you, but because I've been here visiting my parents in Colorado, suburbia, I'm reminded of these American realities. Sometimes, because I've been traveling for many, many years doing my very independent type travel, in a lot of ways, I've been just disconnected from American culture. Of course, I follow some of the news and whatnot, but to see just how people are, again, in American suburbia, it helps me understand a little bit where my clients are coming from, some of the questions and doubts that they might have. So it's good. But I am excited to get on my next trip and-
Trevor Fenner: I wanted to ask, how has your understanding of Bitcoin changed your perspective on, I don't know, the way the world works, economics, travel, travel hacking for that matter?
Trevor Wright: Travel hacking, I don't know if there's too much effect.
Trevor Fenner: Do you think it will affect your ability to get these rewards in the future, the greater usage of Bitcoin? Maybe the hotels will start using it. I don't know. Any foresight on that?
Trevor Wright: Yeah, I would have to think the correlation, the connection between credit cards and Bitcoin. I don't think credit cards are going away. I do think the bank algorithms are getting smarter about people who are gaming the system, which I definitely fall into that category. Even though I'm following the bank rules to a T, they're starting to tweak the algorithm so they can see ... there's no reason someone should have 115 credit cards. So, they're getting better at seeing that and stopping that. Because even though it's not necessarily ... so when you're talking about the banking system, this is a trillion dollar machine.
Trevor Wright: So whatever the percentage is of people like me, .001%, whatever who are getting free flights. It doesn't matter. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the type of money that is flowing through credit cards and through banks. So, they're not that concerned about people like us that are flying around the world for free. But that doesn't mean that they want to keep handing out these types of benefits if they don't have to.
Trevor Wright: So like I said, it is slowly getting harder. Back to Bitcoin, I don't know if I'm prepared for that question.
Trevor Fenner: It's all right. It's an interesting technology.
Trevor Wright: I do think, and I'm highly invested. I believe in it and I put money behind my beliefs, so time will tell who's correct on Bitcoin. If you look at the long-term ... if you look at the history to date, it's gone up. It's gone up 125% since last year. People who, if you're following mainstream media, they'll so this December it was $20,000 and now it's $7,000. It's a bubble. It crashed.
Trevor Wright: It's still up 125% since last year. One year from now, it will probably be up another 1005 or more. So it's a long-term play. It's not a sure thing, but the more I learn about it, the more I understand that this is the future. And Starbucks is starting to accept Bitcoin in November. So that's a big deal.
Trevor Fenner: Wow. I didn't know that.
Trevor Wright: Yeah.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah. Enough people are walking around with Bitcoin wallets now. I guess it makes sense to them. I know as a Shopify store owner, I can accept Bitcoin online for my store if I wanted to.
Trevor Wright: Yeah.
Trevor Fenner: I don't, but maybe in the future, I might. I know the technology behind it. The blockchain is used in multiple industries, not just currency. But just the fact that people are going to have the currency outside of the banking system, outside of the Federal Reserve and all that and exchange peer to peer without being heavily regulated and all that is pretty cool.
Trevor Wright: Yeah. There's ... it's all happening and it's interesting.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, that's awesome man. Okay. One of the last things I wanted to ask you to share with the listeners is, how they can see your travels and stuff like that. I know you have Instagram stories and stuff like that that you do. Where can they see what you're doing [inaudible 00:50:45]?
Trevor Wright: So this is ... I'm a terrible marketer, I will admit it. There's a lot of things I could be doing to spread the word about mile method. A lot of things I could be doing because the number one issue I have is people hear about what I do, or they might come across my website, but then they go back to the whole, this is too good to be true. There's no way you can apply for a credit card and fly to Europe for free. Or apply for two credit cards, fly to Europe for free and stay in a $900 per night hotel. It seems crazy.
Trevor Wright: So social proof is pretty big I think proving that this is real. So, I'm more active on Instagram. I just finished this South Pacific trip and Alaska to eight or nine different countries and I haven't even updated my Instagram yet. I feel guilty about that. But my Instagram is file method. You can find me there. I do try to stay up today, even though I'm way behind right now. I'm really ... I really enjoy doing the Instagram stories because it doesn't take a lot of effort. So when I'm traveling, I like to do if I see something interesting, I like to share it with people and I try to show a bit of the world to people who are following.
Trevor Wright: So Instagram is good. My Facebook, personal Facebook is Trevor Wright. I'm always posting travel stuff there as well.
Trevor Fenner: Cool. I'll include links below in the description if you're watching this on YouTube guys, you can check out his Instagram and Facebook. You also have a personal blog, trevorwright.co. Is that correct?
Trevor Wright: Yes. It hasn't been updated. That is a blog that I maintained for about four years. There are some interesting things there. I used to blog about all my different travels with how many miles were required for a certain trip, with screenshots of the tickets so people can see that this trip really did only cost $20. There's even an article on trevorwright.co, a trip I booked for my parents that were, the retail cost of this trip would have cost $48,000, which is crazy. That's the trip that my dad flew Emirates first class, which I believe was a $16,000 flight. And we paid, I think, $120 maybe. I forget. So yeah, there are some good articles on trevorwright.co, but because I have other income streams, I'm doing some other business stuff, I haven't been active updating that blog.
Trevor Fenner: It's cool. Yeah, I really do know that this stuff works very well. It works very well for people that are out of debt, but also people that own online businesses, especially e-commerce businesses. The reason why it's worked so well for us is that we have a drop shipping business and it's a high ticket. So when we sell a product that's a thousand or two thousand dollars, the cost of [inaudible 00:53:50] is usually around 70% to 80% of that. So if it's a thousand dollar part, it's like $700 or $800 we have to pay for the supplier for that product. And we put that product on our credit card. Then that racks up really fast. So we can meet these reward bonuses within two weeks or three weeks or something like that.
Trevor Fenner: And just get loads of miles rewards. It's been working really well for us. We've been doing it for the last year and a half. So any e-commerce business owners that are listening out there that do high ticket drop shipping, this method works really well. The only thing I have to warn is that it does create kind of a bookkeeping, I wouldn't say nightmare, but just more work to do. So you just have to make sure that you're always downloading your statements, saving them on a file, maybe on Google drive and having them prepared so that come tax time, you'll have all your documents ready to show all your different credit cards that you used to get these [inaudible 00:54:41] sold. Then I usually have just one credit card for personal expenses or something like that. So that's really simple to go through as well.
Trevor Fenner: Do you have any tips on bookkeeping for the people that do this as well?
Trevor Wright: Yeah. As part of my mile method service, we do ... each client has a shared Google drive spreadsheet. And I help the clients keep that updated. So that simplifies the process a lot too. Part of my system has ... I've tried to streamline it as much as humanly possible to make the applying, the tracking of spending, the tracking of bonuses, these things as simple as possible. But of course, yes, you do have to have some responsibility on your own part to make sure that you are tracking that as well.
Trevor Wright: I am no tax expert. In fact, even though I have an international business degree, I don't understand taxes. So I'm not the person to talk to. But I did start using a new software. It's the Intuit QuickBooks. I found that really nice because you can mark every single transaction as a business or personal transaction. So that way when it comes time to do taxes, you have all your business expenses separate already. I'm not sure what type of software you're using to track, but that's something I found very helpful for my business.
Trevor Fenner: Yeah, I use the same thing actually. The Intuit QuickBooks online is very useful and I actually recommend that as well. So great, man. It was so good talking to you. People can follow, you guys can follow mile method on Instagram.com/milemethod. Facebook.com/trevorwright. You can find him there. Trevorwright.co And if you guys are interested in the mile method service, definitely sign up using my link because what I'm going to be doing is creating a special offer for you guys for the listeners of this show that explains the things that I've learned to go through this program, specifically for e-commerce high ticket drop shipping. But a guide to getting started with credit card rewards miles, bonus signups and stuff like that.
Trevor Fenner: You can go to eCommerceParadise.com/milemethod and get that guide there. And when you sign up, I'll be able to figure out and see if you're the right client for this or not, just like Trevor normally does. And then I'll send you over to Trevor to sign up if you are. Definitely go there, check it out, eCommerceParadise.com/milemethod. Thanks so much for being on the podcast Trevor. I really appreciate it.
Trevor Wright: It was a good talk. Thanks a lot for having me.