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Funding Our Travel Savings Account

Welcome to Miles4More, our family’s little corner of the internet! We are equal-opportunity collectors of credit card signup bonuses, shopping portal miles and points, and manufactured spending. We hope this will post give some insight into the way we play the miles, points and cashback game so you’ll know if this blog might be relevant to your family’s travel.

I don’t travel for work. We don’t need to travel, at least not by air. It’s a total luxury. Taking family vacations of any kind is out of the reach of millions. Being able to travel as a family to the other side of the world just to see what it looks like? A huge privilege and luxury that we might take for granted if we’re not careful.

Paper Airplane

I had a post written on the tools we were using to fund our own travel savings account, ready to go, and then Barclays ended the party, for now at least. Or I should say they turned down the volume. Just like that, the best return on investment we can readily get from using manufactured spending on an Arrival card to fund our account dropped from $299.68 for every $53 invested to $160.94 for every $53 invested. In other words, the discount, on any and all travel we want or need, that we could get by putting the Arrival card to work fell from 83% off to 67% off overnight. I mean, 67% is still cool and all, but a thousand dollars worth of Disney tickets or hotel rooms or car rentals or whatever just jumped from $176.86 to $329.31. So we’ll slow down with that avenue, continue with others and never put all of our MS eggs in one basket.

Side note – this is all tax free, so the actual discount realized vs. just working more hours and earning that thousand dollars may be much higher.

Our estimated current monthly deposits into our Travel Savings Account, earned via two signup bonuses, portal points and MS:

American, Alaska, Delta and United Airlines miles: around 310K total.

Barclays Arrival points 50K, to fund travel already purchased for later this year.

Cashback $1000, because it’s kind of versatile and flexible.

Cost in fees: $752. Value in cash: well, $1000. Minimum value in flexible travel: $2850. Plus Alaska and United miles which I’ll call 1 cent each for simplicity: $750.

Cost in time: 15 3-5 minute stops and 35 5-10 minute stops throughout the course of the month. Or around 5 hours in stores, most of which is on the way to or from work, while we’re already at the stores, or worked in with lunch and other errands. Still it’s 5 hours spent, and I have to plan 5 more for online work and tracking. So 10 hours total.

A few common reactions:

Why so much? That’s a lot of spending!      4 travelers, 6-8 or more trips per year. Due to our schedules, we can’t do the two-week vacation. So we make the most of every possible long weekend and holiday opportunity.

That’s nothing! I can easily double that!      Yes, anyone can. The point isn’t how many, it’s that anyone can earn enough to do pretty much all the travel they want, and/or earn lots of cash on top of that.

Why not more cashback?      Because this is what best fits our needs right now. Once our Alaska balances are padded a little more, cashback will replace those miles. And of course the game will change by then and the strategy adjusted accordingly.

You’re freaking nuts!      Yep, guilty as charged. We don’t want you to be nuts just because we are, but hopefully we can help you travel where and when you want to, saving all your money for activities on the ground. Or whatever your family needs.
Comments? Fire away! I’m a just the Dad in a family that loves to travel, and I’m happy to help any other family that I can.


{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Brian June 18, 2014, 5:32 pm

    What card are you using for cashback?

  • ctbarron June 18, 2014, 5:42 pm

    Nice post, glad you’re writing this. Multi-person travel (I have 4) remains an under-served segment in my opinion.

    Curious – how are you splitting out airline miles acquisition? Evenly across several, more in AA, etc.

    • Kenny June 18, 2014, 5:59 pm

      Thanks! Right now AA miles are so easy to get that they make up the bulk of our balances. Ideally we would split Chase Ultimate Rewards and AA about 60%-40% and earn enough Southwest for our domestic trips.

  • Samer June 18, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Awesome kenny.. Nice to see another fellow Austin buddy getting in on the blogging sphere.. and as ctbarron says – multiperson travel is a under served segment.. kudos..

    • Kenny June 18, 2014, 8:33 pm

      Thanks Samer. It’s San Antonio here, but close enough 😉 Hopefully we’ll be able to help some other families.

  • Elaine June 18, 2014, 3:42 pm

    So nice to see you here, Kenny!

    Quick question – have you applied for any of your AA Exec cards on a weekend? Is it possible to call in immediately if one applies then and doesn’t get immediate approval? Weekend timing works much better for my husband. Thanks and say hi to Bonnie and your boys!

    And again, I am delighted to see your here!

    • Kenny June 18, 2014, 4:38 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Elaine! Yes, I applied for one AA Exec card on a Saturday and called in the same day for processing and approval, no problem at all.

      • Elaine June 18, 2014, 5:42 pm

        Thanks, Kenny. I figured I could find the answer on FT or elsewhere but knowing the guy who knows the most about applying for the AA Exec is here, it seemed the fastest and most direct. Thank for taking the time to answer. Also, so good to hear you’ve got an award booking service. I just may utilize it one of these days!

        Any chance I’ll see you and your family in A2? My husband is joining me for that one since we are both UM alums.

        Finally, I bet your boys were pretty happy with the SAN b-ball win! Are they enjoying the World Cup?

        • Kenny June 18, 2014, 8:31 pm

          We’re enjoying the Spurs championship parade and celebration now. Everything about this season makes it the sweetest one of all, from hall-of-famers taking pay cuts for the team to teamwork and players as selfless as ever.
          No, we won’t be in Ann Arbor. Dos are great and all, but they take resources away from the travel we want to do.

  • pfdigest June 18, 2014, 7:34 pm

    Glad you’re here at Saverocity!

    • Kenny June 18, 2014, 8:39 pm

      Thanks, Nick! It’s great to be here!

  • Lou June 18, 2014, 9:22 pm

    Love to see new bloggers with something for families too. We are also four but my “kids” are adults now, so it is more expensive to travel. They won’t go for kids menu no more. Lol! I will be happy to see more about booking with different airlines, availability for 4 or more people and when is the best time and way to do it. Thanks, welcome and best of luck!

    • Kenny June 18, 2014, 9:58 pm

      We are down to one kids menu now, and things do only get more expensive. I look forward to the challenge of putting together award tickets from a variety of areas as every city really requires its own strategy. Thanks!

  • TravelBloggerBuzz June 19, 2014, 8:55 am

    Good to see you here Kenny!
    You are now 1 for 1 on TBB. And not in the Frontline Report lol.

  • Zhuo June 19, 2014, 6:15 pm

    Nice to see you here, Kenny.
    Benefited a lot from your post about paying citi cards with debit cards. And congrats on your 6th citi aa execs 🙂

    • Kenny June 19, 2014, 7:27 pm

      Thanks, Zhuo, happy to have been able to help. I don’t think the Exec card needs more exposure so I won’t blog about it, but it is a fun little deal 🙂

  • Nicole June 20, 2014, 8:55 am

    Hi Kenny – great post, looking forward to more. 🙂

  • Jen June 21, 2014, 12:57 pm

    Love this post! I have a similar situation, traveling with my small family and looking for ways to do what used to be impossible. I’m learning a lot from your posts, thanks!!

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