Michelle writes Miles, Points and Maitais. She is a private pilot, aviation enthusiast, frequent flier, and new mom (and breaking news folks, there is another baby on the way!) she juggles managing the family with generating enough points to take them all on fantastic adventures. Michelle has flown just under the radar on the weekly top 3 results, but make no mistake, she is a heavy hitter. Tournament to date earnings are:
- Portal/Rebate Cash back $763
- Cash Back Credit Cards $303
- Ultimate Rewards 40,500
- Barclay Arrival Points 25,000
- An around 10000 each within a number of other programs.
Michelle created a strategy that used the Portal Rebates and Cash back to completely offset any fees with giftcard purchases, and actual resulted in a small net profit in addition to all of those points and credit card cash earned. Michelle will be attending the Charlotte May 10th Seminars and Celebration.
- Avid Skier, Stand Up Paddler
- Mom to an awesome 2-year-old little boy with another baby on the way!
- Husband is originally from India
- Family and a small business in Maui, Hawaii. Have been traveling there 4 times a year since I was born
- United 1k (mileage runner)/.9 Million Miler and Alaska Airlines MVP (legitimate)
How closely does the activity shown here and in #milemadness in general depict your Manufactured Spend habits, what are you doing differently, if anything and why?
The activity shown here is a very good representation of the things I do every month, just on a larger scale. I’ve definitely ramped up my volume and frequency in order to be competitive with the other players. A lot of my monthly manufactured spend comes from Visa Gift Cards and Walmart Money Orders, so I guess it’s no surprise that has been my “go-to” for the contest. I’m also a huge fan of category bonuses, cash back (to help cover expenses) and anything I can do for free or better-than-free. What differs is that I normally don’t go out and do everything, every day. I might go out and buy all my gift cards on Monday, then do Walmart runs on Tuesday, and *gasp* maybe even take a day off. While it’s been fun to see how much spend I can squeeze in during a single month, I don’t think its very sustainable.
Your Tournament Strategy seems to be focused on earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles, why is that?
Well, since I recently found out I’ll be earning for a family of 4 from now on (ahhhh!) our planned October 2015 trip to India in EK J (Emirates Business Class) is now going to cost an extra 145,000 miles…and that’s just the beginning! I really think Alaska is a great airline (we fly them regularly) and their Mileage Plan program is a great complement to United Airlines and the Star Alliance, which I’ve always done.
Recently, I’ve also been focusing on fixed-value points like Flexperks and Barclay’s Arrival. They are easy to earn, a great value for domestic redemptions, and how I largely intend to fund my continued quest for United Million Miler.
When the tournament is over, along with the fame and fortune, you will be left with a lot of points of every type, what is your plan for them, how do you squeeze that extra bit of value from them when you spend or redeem?
That’s funny, because I never really seem to have an abundance of points! We burn ’em about as fast as I earn them in this household! I’ll take whatever miles and points I can get my hands on and figure out a way to use them. I recently traded in 360k United Miles (pre-devaluation) for our upcoming trip to Japan, India and China; with my husband’s family in Delhi, and mine spread out between Hawaii and Wyoming, we’re constantly on the move. That said, I can’t stress enough how much this hobby has improved the quality of our lives. We used to pay revenue for those tickets to India (a HUGE expense) and fly in coach. Now for a fraction of that, we normally go in Business Class and take advantage of stopover rules to squeeze in an extra vacation along the way. Miles and points not only help our family stay connected, but we’re able to afford other opportunities to travel and see the world that otherwise would only be a dream.
What is the biggest disadvantage you have in this tournament?
I haven’t been able to buy XXXXX with a credit card to save my life!
What is the biggest advantage?
The Sacramento area is great for Manufactured Spending. I’m very lucky to have a couple well-stocked CVSs, a 7-Eleven that will still sell me gift cards with a credit card, and several Walmarts (inlcuding one that sells money orders for $.25) nearby.
I’ve also found bringing my son along for some of the action is a great way to start conversations and make friends with cashiers. While it might take me a little longer to go places while wrangling a 2-year-old in and out of a car seat, he’s a really sweet boy and a great little helper.
Who do think is the most innovative player and why?
Who has the most boring strategy?
Milesabound 😉 jk. He has actually taught me a lot and is doing an awesome job with that 5x Citi card. I’m jealous!
What have you learned from the tournament, is there anything you wouldn’t do again, and have you seen anything new emerge that has changed your attitude?
I’ve learned I can easily do more than I’ve ever dreamed of before, with skills I already have. In just two weeks I’ve done more than I normally do in a month sometimes! I’ve also learned this is something I don’t want to do every day. Moving forward, I hope to be more efficient so that I can continue to earn at a high level, but without having to go to Walmart every single day. When this is all over, if I don’t go there for a week, I’ll be happy!
I’ve also learned that the Univision card from Safeway is a useless piece of s— and that Serve has REALLY bad customer service. On the flipside- Office Max promotions, better-than-free money from TopCashBack, and triple dips are all awesome!
What advice would you give to a complete beginner who wants to get started?
Start slow. It takes a lot of practice to manufacture spend successfully, and keeping track of it all is a lot of work! Also have some idea of what you want to do with all the miles and points you are earning. A “demand schedule”, as Milenomics calls it, or some sort of wish list is a great way to make sure all your earnings don’t go to waste.
If you could change anything about the tournament, what would it be and why?
I would allow cash back earned with a credit card be to credited back to the bankroll. I’ve found my hands increasingly tied as my bankroll is depleted by fees, when in reality I’m generating more than enough cash back to cover the expenses and actually making some money.