Side Hustle City

Unlocking the Secrets of Credit Card Rewards for Opulent Vacations with Spencer Howard

April 15, 2024 Adam Koehler with Spencer Howard Season 6 Episode 26
Unlocking the Secrets of Credit Card Rewards for Opulent Vacations with Spencer Howard
Side Hustle City
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Side Hustle City
Unlocking the Secrets of Credit Card Rewards for Opulent Vacations with Spencer Howard
Apr 15, 2024 Season 6 Episode 26
Adam Koehler with Spencer Howard

Send us a Text Message.

Unlock the full potential of your travel rewards as we navigate the luxury landscapes with Spencer Howard, the expert who turned credit card points into his personal gateway to extravagant adventures. Our chat with Spencer reveals the art of upgrading your travel from mundane to first-class without breaking the bank. From the comfort of lie-flat seats to the allure of upscale dining, we cover it all. Learn the strategies that can transform your family vacations into experiences draped in luxury, all by utilizing the competitive nature of credit card rewards programs to your advantage.

Ever wonder how a side hustle can morph into a thriving business, even amidst a global crisis? Spencer's journey from the political arena to the pinnacle of travel luxury epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit, proving that dedication to your passion can pave the way to success. We delve into the evolving world of travel planning, the significance of timing, and how the internet has catalyzed the growth of niche markets. Join us as we dissect the complexities of credit card points systems and share personal stories that illuminate the variety of ways to make luxury travel an attainable reality.

Wrapping up, we extend an open invitation to the Side Hustle City community, where the entrepreneurial flame is fanned by stories like Adam's, offering lessons on turning side projects into main hustles. It's not just about the hustle; it's about the community and the shared knowledge that propels us forward. So whether you're a seasoned hustler or just getting your feet wet, this episode promises to stoke your ambition and equip you with the actionable insights to elevate your side hustle game.

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

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FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Unlock the full potential of your travel rewards as we navigate the luxury landscapes with Spencer Howard, the expert who turned credit card points into his personal gateway to extravagant adventures. Our chat with Spencer reveals the art of upgrading your travel from mundane to first-class without breaking the bank. From the comfort of lie-flat seats to the allure of upscale dining, we cover it all. Learn the strategies that can transform your family vacations into experiences draped in luxury, all by utilizing the competitive nature of credit card rewards programs to your advantage.

Ever wonder how a side hustle can morph into a thriving business, even amidst a global crisis? Spencer's journey from the political arena to the pinnacle of travel luxury epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit, proving that dedication to your passion can pave the way to success. We delve into the evolving world of travel planning, the significance of timing, and how the internet has catalyzed the growth of niche markets. Join us as we dissect the complexities of credit card points systems and share personal stories that illuminate the variety of ways to make luxury travel an attainable reality.

Wrapping up, we extend an open invitation to the Side Hustle City community, where the entrepreneurial flame is fanned by stories like Adam's, offering lessons on turning side projects into main hustles. It's not just about the hustle; it's about the community and the shared knowledge that propels us forward. So whether you're a seasoned hustler or just getting your feet wet, this episode promises to stoke your ambition and equip you with the actionable insights to elevate your side hustle game.

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

FranchiseU!
FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevie, my co-host. Let's get started, all right. Welcome back, everybody, to the Side Hustle City podcast. Today we've got our special guest, spencer Howard. How are you doing, spencer?

Speaker 2:

Doing well.

Speaker 1:

Adam, thanks for having me Well before the show we realized you're a Kentucky guy, so you get points, and we're talking about credit card points.

Speaker 2:

You're ahead of the game.

Speaker 1:

I don't like the points. That's right. That's right. So you've got perspective being from Kentucky and now here you are, working in luxury travel. So how did how did you get involved in in the points game in the in the travel credit card points game?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for sure I some of it's just dumb luck, like many things I feel like in my life, but it's uh, I was working in politics for about a decade. My last political job, we uh, we were actually encouraged to take our days off, which is unusual in politics. Um, and at that point I was like I just got to find flights to go somewhere Let me find the cheapest thing and stumbled upon a website talking about airline miles and I was like, well, I don't travel a lot. But then they mentioned something about credit cards. I was like, well, I have a credit card and I mean, this was like the beginning of going down the rabbit hole and I think I ended up spending like four hours a night for like six months like reading credit card rules, terms and conditions, airline rules for booking with points and not the normal path and not necessarily the path I would recommend for everybody. But I got obsessed. So that's how we started.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but you were working in before that, before you really got into this. Is this like a full time thing for you now?

Speaker 2:

This is full time now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, wow, so you've created your own job, essentially.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean I freelanced writing for some large websites that talk about credit card points and, um, airline miles, hotel points. Uh did that for several years, um, and then, at the beginning of 2021, uh decided to take what was my hobby straight to the points, which is just a free newsletter, and make it my full-time job. Um, yeah, I mean nothing like starting a travel business when people aren't traveling because of a global pandemic. So it was, uh, it was, it was a bit of a, it was a bit of a move, but it's uh, it's working out. I think people people kind of understood we were going to be traveling soon and, um, yeah, just been going since then.

Speaker 1:

Well, things picked up. I mean, I think right now people are a little hesitant to spend money and I could tell because you know I do my little Turo business I bought a car and I put it on Turo, mainly to just let people on the podcast know if it was worth the money or not. And a couple of years ago it was great, you know, there was pandemic money going around and people were spending it and they were like, yeah, let me go buy, you know, rent a nice car. I'm thinking about buying one of these, let me rent it out on Turo and I usually I'll drop it off to the airport in Cincinnati that's actually in Kentucky and drop it off to people, and it's a great business. I mean, I'm renting this thing $200 a day, you know. And you know, maybe it's because it's a winter right now. I don't know what. What are you? Are you feeling that too right now, or what do you think?

Speaker 2:

I think towards the end of a year I typically see people slow down, um, mostly, I think, because they're buying like Christmas presents and whatnot. Um, and then January people start going oh, I should plan travel for this year, and I see like a quick, like burst, and then it starts to kind of balance out and usually I end up hearing from people in like late May where they're like I want to go somewhere this summer and I'm like you are very late to the party, but it's, I get it. Not everybody's thinking about travel all the time, like I am.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I mean, this is your full-time thing, which is amazing that, I mean you're, you're kind of doing what everybody wants to do, like I went and spoke to some kids at my high school yesterday and I go, you know, I'm telling them, hey, don't, don't trade your time for money, right, don't be an indentured servant is what I told him. Just to shock value, right, and, uh and and and own assets and do all this stuff right. And they all want to be influencers. I think every kid nowadays wants to be a YouTube influencer, a TikTok influencer or one of these things. You're kind of living the dream, because I think when you break that down, it's not necessarily about being an influencer or whatever. It's about writing your own ticket, essentially being your own boss, doing your own thing in an industry that you love.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I am still, I mean still obsessed, the same same as I was in 2015 when I discovered this was a possibility Um, and I mean I love, I love it. It's still hard work I probably worked too many hours, uh, just, but I do love it. So it's hard to stop sometimes, so, um, but yeah, and I think there's and there's a lot of new opportunities these days with the way the internet has evolved, for for good or bad.

Speaker 2:

I know there's, you know, lots of downsides, but there's a lot of upsides, and the ability to kind of do what you want is, I think, a lot easier than it used to be. I think the permission structure is a bit different. It's not, as I know, you're not required to wait in line as much. You can kind of get into something, do the research put in the work, put it out there for the world and kind of see if it connects, and I think that's great and that's kind of what I did. I'm not I always say I'm kind of an antiviral creator. Um, I don't create things that are exciting. I'm more of an educational person. I like to kind of dig in and, you know, get into the weeds on things and um make sure people kind of know how they can go travel, um, rather than just kind of shock them with something amazing that I did.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, well, I mean I'm, you know, my wife. She's big time into travel. She loves it, especially Disney stuff. She would we. She wants me to move to Golden Oak so that she can. I don't know if you know. You probably know Golden Oak cause you're in there.

Speaker 2:

Oh, you know, I'm not a Disney person.

Speaker 1:

Well, yeah, if you got, if you got four and a half million dollars for a starter home, you can move to gold. But it's just, yeah, four and a half million, yeah, this is what she wants. She's like this is what you need to get for me. And I'm like, oh, yeah, okay, what do they start at? And she's showing me the 10 million dollar ones.

Speaker 2:

Right, so, but but essentially, do it, do it right do it, right, right, but.

Speaker 1:

But you're on disney campus, right, you spend some ungodly amount of money for you know association dues and all that stuff. But you get like a pass to disney, you get all this stuff and that's kind of life she wants to live. So she's just like enthralled with disney, with universal, with you know amusement parks in general. She wants you just have fun all the time. You know, and I think it's a lot of people have a dream when they're going on a vacation and you know once that dream is over.

Speaker 1:

A week or a week and a half later, or however long you're on your trip. Now you're hit with the bill. Right, the bill comes due, or, hopefully, you've been saving. But people need. They're always looking for a way to get an edge right when they're traveling. How do I get an edge? How do I save a little bit of money? You know you got kids and stuff. It just gets that much more expensive. So who do you normally deal with? Are you you dealing with people that are this expensive? So who do you normally deal with? Are you you dealing with people that are this is their?

Speaker 2:

strategy is like I just need to save an extra couple hundred bucks. It's a. It varies, Um, I think a lot of my well, a lot of my audience is into flying business and first-class internationally and those ticket prices are. I mean, my favorite example is if you want to fly like round trip to Japan, it could be like twenty, two thousand dollars. If you want to fly first class, business can be, you know, fifteen, ten thousand, whatever. I mean it's yeah, it's, it's pricey. Even I mean going to Europe, it can be anywhere from like on a good day Eighteen is a really good day is eighteen hundred dollars for a round trip ticket, and on a more normal day we can be up in the fours and the fives. So, and then you look at like peak periods and it gets even higher.

Speaker 2:

So for me it's just a matter of like how can I kind of help people get the experience that they wouldn't normally have, give them a taste of something different, like I think so many people work so hard, and then it's just, they think about travel and it's like, oh, I got to like fly to get there, and it's just like a drag because they're going to sit in economy. Nothing wrong with sitting in economy. If that's like how you want to use your points, go forth. I'm 6'3", I like space, I don't fit in small spaces, and so I've just been trying to help people kind of enhance their travel just a bit and make it a little bit nicer no-transcript there for a minute.

Speaker 1:

Next thing, you know, he gets upgraded. I gotta watch him the rest of the time on this flight through the little curtain, drinking cocktails, leaning back. But he's like you. He's like probably six, two, six, three, um, but he's a bigger guy, so you know. I didn't get too mad at him. But here I am on a 16 hour whatever in world flight. I was on, tied up in this thing. But when you're flying like that, being in first class is a game changer yeah, it's uh's, a and this is like a, this is a very.

Speaker 2:

It's a distinction that nobody thinks about. But business and first class are different and you're not internationally. Um, business class to be is like that's. I think that should be the goal for most people get a lie, flat seat and just some space. Uh, first class is like you. Just, you basically want to fly private, but that's just a bridge too far, yeah, I mean.

Speaker 2:

But it does truly change. Like I, I always look at it as like I don't want to be miserable thinking about getting somewhere and I don't want to be miserable getting to the airport and getting on the plane, just want the whole journey to be kind of enjoyable, whether that means you just want to go to sleep as soon as you get on the plane, whether it means you want some nicer food, whether that means you want a glass of champagne, whatever. That is like just a better experience. So like I don't know, it makes it feels like a true vacation, like you're, you're starting off nice, you're feeling good, rather than like now I have to recover for six days because I was sitting in the back on a 15 hour flight.

Speaker 1:

Oh my God, and travel can totally be like that, right, and then you get there and you know you're finally drag your bags through the lobby, you get your ticket, you go up an elevator, you walk a little further just to get to your room and you finally get to drop your stuff off. You're ready to go to sleep. I mean it's, it's not a, it's not like yeah, why should your travel be that painful and stressful when you're trying to relax?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and with a credit card points, there's a lot of opportunities to be able to book these business and first class flights, especially business class, even for families. I mean, I've I, one of my newsletter readers booked a family of eight business class to Europe? Um, they're, they're not like work travelers are not on the road all the time, it's just through strategic earning of credit card points. Um, so that's the kind of those are the big wins that I like to see, um, but you know, and again, like I do like to emphasize, that just taking the trip is, I mean, can be special enough. I've flown an economy. It's fine. Like if you, if that's the, if that's the opportunity you have, like go for it. Like, if points are going to get you an economy seat, or maybe a bunch of economy seats and or a bunch of economy seats and or a bunch of economy trips, like go for it. It's just to me, it's just figuring out how you or what you care about with travel and putting your points to use to get that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and now tell people the strategy, Like I think a lot of people I understand it because I've kind of looked into it. You know it looks like you've been featured on the points guy. He's a very popular person to follow. I mean you've been on Forbes, Travel and Leisure, Business Insider, Washington Post. I mean the list goes on and on here. But explain to people the industry like this, this just became a thing maybe I don't know, 10 years ago or something like that. People really started to make this a thing, but it's become a big deal and credit card companies are competing with each other, on, on, you know different kinds of programs that they do, because it's just cutthroat. It's cutthroat industry, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean it's. I love competition, so that's I'm happy for them to compete for our business and find ways to reward us for using their products, and that's yeah. So for me it's basically several banks have transferable points programs where you can transfer those points into, uh, other airlines and hotels, and they're all trying to kind of get the best partners and have the best airline partnerships and they run promos for transfers. I mean they're they've got like different bonus categories for credit cards. Each one, each bank is like really pushing to kind of incentivize you to come bank with them and ideally they want you to do all your banking with them. But it's, yeah, I mean, the industry's wild. I think it's it's changed since I've been in it since 2016,.

Speaker 2:

But it's yeah, there's more and more people from different backgrounds kind of sharing their experiences, traveling and showing how they do things, and it's I don don't know, it's a lot of fun to watch, um, and it's just kind of fun to see even more people kind of taking advantage of these opportunities that I think often go overlooked or not even overlooked. They just don't even know they exist. A lot of it's just you gotta like, oh, put it in front of somebody to go. Oh hey, you can do this. And the first time you're like wait, what? That's a thing I think most people are like I don't travel, I'm not a road warrior, I'm not going to earn any points and I'm like that's the 90s, this is the 2020s, like you earn points with credit cards, like that's where it happens and that's where the opportunity is. Don't get me wrong Road warriors can still earn plenty of hotel points and airline miles, but it's not exclusive to them anymore.

Speaker 1:

Right? Well, there's a guy also on YouTube, Graham Stephan, and you might know him. He's a finance influencer, he's a realtor in California and he saves every dime. He drinks his coffee black, he makes it at home. He never goes to Starbucks. He's a big points guy, but that's not his main thing. He's just mostly talking about real estate and he's bringing people on like Mr Wonderful and he's at that level now. But the guy's still drinking his coffee black at his house and maybe throws a little milk in it every once in a while. But he's a big saver and, hey, I'll invest my money instead of wasting it and giving it to Starbucks. I'll put it into something else. Well People like him, people like me.

Speaker 1:

I'm also a cheapskate. I wouldn't say a cheapskate. I'm very, very frugal and I don't like to buy things unless they make me money. Right? So if I can, if I can buy things and earn benefits somehow from buying those things, that I have to buy, no matter what. I have multiple businesses. You know some people also do blue collar guys. You know, they've got to buy tools, They've got to. I've got to buy computer software. I've got to buy a lot of things. Right, I got to buy those anyway. Why not figure out a way to stack programs or stack points to benefit from that Right?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. It's. Uh, I think most people go into it thinking, oh, I shouldn't have credit cards. Credit cards mean debt and I get that. And if you struggle with kind of controlling the spending and not spending because you have a credit limit, don't, don't get into the game. It's a game.

Speaker 1:

It's a hobby, it's not like this is not.

Speaker 2:

This is a nice to have, not a need to have. I don't want anybody going into debt because they were chasing points. That's silly, it's just not worth it. But if you treat your credit card like a debit card and this was a big mindset shift for me when I first got into it because I thought that way I was like I don't need the extra credit just to spend for no reason. But once I realized I could just treat the credit card like a debit card, that was a big kicker for me, where it's like oh, just pay it off every month, Just like I immediately am paying off the debit card. So that, to me, is where the benefit is. Like you still want to only be spending on what you need. You just want to get something out of it instead of nothing.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, you're spending this money anyway, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, debit card, cash, whatever, I'm like, ok, you don't get anything. And then you tell me that if I go to this restaurant and I get three or four X points and I can use those points later for a trip to Europe Great, let's do that. Um, if, if I've got business expenses for an event or whatever I mean I have friends who run digital ads for a living and they, they earn so many points. Oh, I need to start doing that. Yeah, it's, uh, it's, uh, it's I would call it printing points. Um, it is insane because there's two credit cards that offer, or there's what. Two, one or two credit cards are in like three, four X on all your digital ad spend and you're just like, oh, okay, that's an easy way to do. I mean, some of these guys are spending a month they pay.

Speaker 1:

You send them a bill, they pay it off at the end of the month and boom yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I mean I own an ad agency so I get it.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I've got somebody in California that does most of my ad spend for me.

Speaker 2:

But I can almost guarantee you he's doing this strategy. I was going to say he's earning all the points.

Speaker 1:

Oh, he's earning all the points I need to bring that in-house. Here's what you Sorry, mike, don't tell him.

Speaker 2:

I sent you. He's going to be so upset with me. Oh yeah, but.

Speaker 1:

but that's the thing Like and you don't even know. And a lot of your clients are people like that or they're, you know, wealthier individuals, their business people and they're, you know, they've got a company card or something Right. But the average individual, the average person, can still kind of do this, and I would consider this a side hustle because you're getting free stuff.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah it's. I always tell people it's not free, it's just heavily reduced. Yeah, heavily reduced. Well, you got to buy something.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, and maybe a free hotel night, or maybe you get a hotel or you get a, you get a discount on a flight or you get whatever, but it's money you would have been spending.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and to me, I think there's a lot of different approaches. I think and it depends where you are in your, I'll say, financial life when I first got into points, I was working in politics. When they didn't, they didn't really pay you a lot, and so for me it was like I got to, I want to cover costs so that I can actually go on the trip and, coming, you know, as you make a little bit more money, it's like, ok, I want to cover flight costs or hotel costs so that I can go to a really nice meal at this really great restaurant, uh, or do whatever experience. Some people are into adventure sports and they want to pay for whatever something. I mean some people want to go, uh like, drive doom buggies in the desert in the middle east, like it's going to cost some money, okay. But if you've used points to cover your flights or possibly your hotels, or at least part of your hotels, like now all of a sudden those become more affordable because you haven't used the money you would have on the flights. So I think it's, I think it's great. I think, like I say, it's enhancing your travel.

Speaker 2:

It doesn't. It can be simply just to save money, but it can also be to just get you more experiences that you want. To save money, but it can also be to just get you more experiences that you want. Um, it's really. I mean, I have I have readers who use points for flights only and then they go pay for luxury hotels because they didn't pay for the flights. I'm like that's great. I have other P. I have other people that are just like I'm going to use points for both flights and hotels, and then I'm going to spend money on some Michelin star meal just to like try it, and I'm like, hey, what? I mean, if you're a foodie, go for it. There's like, why not? And that's how I look at it. There's just, it's kind of a. It's almost like a kind of create your own adventure or choose your own adventure game, um, and it's just a matter of prioritizing for yourself what, what you want to get out of it.

Speaker 1:

So my wife, she, she's okay with not spending crazy money on hotels, right, but me, doesn't need that four million dollar house. Yeah, I know it's like, yeah, and it's mostly because it's by disney, like and uh, yeah, we'll have to figure that one out. I don't know that's gonna happen. But she, she, she says, don't say it won't happen, because the universe is not gonna be happy with you. So that's her thing she manifests, right.

Speaker 1:

So, but? But when I the last time I went somewhere without her, I ended up at a hotel next to a truck stop, in every room, and I was in a non-smoking room and it still smelled like smoking, right. So when I'm on my own, I'm like what's? I look on the map and I'm like the cheapest one. I don't care where I stay.

Speaker 1:

I grew up in the hood Like I'll, I'll, I'll stay in the $20 hotel. I don't care. Right, and that is not her style, right? She is not into that at all. So she called me up. She's like where'd you end up staying? And I'm I tell her about it. I was like, ah, messed up. She's like see what happens when you don't travel with me. But you know, doing something like what you're talking. Talking about, I would be as somebody who's this cheap if I could find a way to stay in a nice hotel, because I'm always like who the hell's spending this money? Like who's out here spending? I look at these prices and I'm like 700 a night. For who the hell spends 700 a night? It's these people.

Speaker 2:

You should try it. I think you should try it once and then and have some conversations with them and see what they're up to. Great networking opportunity for you that is the thing. Yes, it's a business expense.

Speaker 1:

That's true, it is a business expense, so yeah, but who are the? Who are the folks that want to spend a thousand? Like who's the guy at the Burj Khalifa? Or the? What is it the one?

Speaker 2:

who's that guy?

Speaker 1:

Burj Al Arab. Who's that guy? Who's Rob? Like I was in Dubai, I was like who's spending $5,000 a night to be in these hotels? Do you? I mean, do you know these people? Do you interact with?

Speaker 2:

these folks Maybe not $5,000 a night usually, but I mean I have client. I do hotel bookings as well, like luxury hotel bookings for clients as a travel advisor Cause I have access to some programs that add additional perks. Still, looking for the value is what I like to say. Yeah, just to get you a little bit more, more of a special experience. But I mean it's. It's a lot of different types of people. Sometimes it's just a small business owner, sometimes it's an executive, somebody who just works hard, and it's not really nine to five these days, but you know, nine to nine or whatever it is, and they want to go and unplug and they want to go just relax and not have to worry about things. No, things are taken care of. I mean I I recently stayed at a four seasons property in London and I mean it's a part of it was for meetings, but just seeing how they operate like it is on a different level.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's a research.

Speaker 2:

That's what you were doing, and I mean truly, and it was very informative. But the I mean just seeing how the entire staff operated and you can see, like, why people will stay there, because they're like I can just unplug, they will take care of things, they will take care of me, I can just enjoy my time. Or I mean, even if you're traveling for work, like you just don't have to think about it and I I kind of started to see how that plays into things, cause I'm definitely the person who is not like I'm going to go, say, to four seasons. I joke that I'm a Hyatt Regency guy because I work on the road, so I like, if it has a club lounge, that's great, cause I just go have breakfast and work and get out of my room. But but I understand and I really enjoy seeing how luxury properties operate. I think it's the political background and working on camp, like previously working on campaigns, I just like to see people execute and just do it really well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, another political friend Also, you're in DC, like to see it. These people spend crazy money on stuff. I mean these politicians are out of control.

Speaker 2:

You're like what is what is going on? I would say I see more money spent in New York. Those hotels are some really expensive hotels there but yeah.

Speaker 2:

I mean it's, it's a variety of people and sometimes unexpected. Sometimes it's a retiree who just like saved a ton of money and now they're like I'm going to enjoy it. And then other people who are just small business owners. Some people own big businesses, but yeah, they're just. I think the experience is what they're going for, which I think is an important thing to remember. I think sometimes, when you don't come from just being able to throw money around like it's nothing, you start to feel like you can never spend money on something nice. It just feels off, I guess. Money on something nice. Uh, it just feels off, I guess. Um, but just kind of remind. Sometimes I like to remind people. You know it's, it's okay to want a nice experience. Uh, and if points is how you get there, great, if cash is how you get there, as long as it's in your budget, I'm cool with it and I'm happy to see you go have fun.

Speaker 1:

Well, and I'm, I'm kind of uh, you can get institutionalized. If you are not a person who enjoys life, you can get used to not having nice things right. And I think For me, once I got out of where I'm from and I started to be around other people, you go and you go into their houses and you're like man, people live like this. Like this is this is unbelievable. Like I grew up in a one bedroom with four people, you know, and now I'm in this house and like half of it's empty but it's a gigantic house. I got a big yard. You start like looking at other stuff and say, man, I want stuff. Then, when you travel and you go to a place like dubai and you see the extravagance and you know you're eating food with gold on it and you're like, wow, I want to be this is I want this.

Speaker 1:

All it can motivate you right, like you mean you didn't, you didn't grow up with gold leaf over your coffee no ramen noodles with hot sauce on them right like, yeah, that's what you got, uh, but that's what you get, uh, but but no. But you know it can kind of motivate you to want nice things and to maybe even even kick in the pants a little bit and make you want to work a little harder so you can, you know, provide for your family. Or you know say, look, I, you know I grew up like this, but you know I want my kids to have nicer stuff and you know, understand what, how the other side lives. But what you're saying is is you don't have to be rich. You can be a regular guy, regular lady and still every once in a while, splurge. But use this strategy in order to be able to do that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think it's again, it's all comes down to prioritization. I think a lot of people they the one that gets me is I see people spend God knows how much money going out to restaurants. And they go to, they spend a ton of money on concerts and I mean like cool, those are your things you love to do. But then they flip around and say, oh, I can't spend money on travel, oh, I can't do that. And I'm like, well, no, you just spend it somewhere else, Like if you I mean I know people who spend $4,000 a month on, like, going out to eat To me I'm like I just don't care enough about going to, I just need to survive, and that's don't get me

Speaker 2:

wrong. I love good food, but it's just like that's not my priority and so I'll prioritize being able to like go on a trip somewhere. And to them I'm always just saying I'm like, why don't you just spend half of that for like two months and like pretty much no matter what, you can fly business class with just cash to Europe and it's just like forget it, don't even worry about the points at that point. But it's just, it is always priorities and I think if you want a really nice experience and you have points for it, that's great. If you're just like I just want to seat on the plane to get me there so I can do X, y and Z, that's also great. And it's just a matter of figuring out what you want, what your goals are, and honestly ignoring the noise, cause there's always people are going to tell you that like, oh no, the best way to do it is this way and I'm like no, that's just your.

Speaker 1:

They need to know what's available to them, and we talked a little bit about this, like where I'm from, where you're from, it's you know, there's not a lot of understanding of what's available to you. If you're in a certain community, right, you don't have a network, you don't have access to ideas or what's like what jobs are out there or any of that kind of stuff. Well, it's the same in this industry. Like, I don't know what credit cards are out there, right, I don't know how I could take advantage of these strategies, right. And you know, there there's the points guy and you kind of have a different, uh, a different spin on things a little bit.

Speaker 1:

But what people can go to your website? Obviously straight to the pointsco, but they need somebody kind of looking out for them. People are busy all day. They don't have time to do the kind of in-depth research that you do. They don't do this full time, but there's so much information on your website and in your newsletter and access to these things. It consolidates everything into one place, yeah, so talk a little bit about the resources that you do have.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so for people just getting started, I have a beginner's guide. It is I just consider it a. It's the foundational pieces of information. Um, I played baseball for a long time and so I look at like pitching.

Speaker 2:

There's five main steps to the pitching motion and when you're first starting out, all of them feel very confusing. And you count them out and it's, it's just very stilted and by the time you've done it for you know 10 years you're just like I don't know. You just throw the ball, like just do that, you just do it. It's fluid, and I think that's the same concept when you're trying to learn how to do anything. So I try to put this beginner's guide together just to kind of give you those foundational pieces.

Speaker 2:

It'll feel weird at first and then, once you've, after that goes back to the original and you're just reapplying the same kind of methods to learning a new aspect. So it's, it's, it's. It can definitely be a lot, but it's. You don't have to be insane about it, just depends how deep into it you want to go. So that's, that's the for those who are new, for those who already have points and are just trying to figure out how to use them and use them better. I have my award alerts newsletter where I send out award space and business in first class on international routes and break down the different ways you can use your points and the best ways and why you'd want to do one versus another.

Speaker 1:

So my older brother says I idiot, proof the process If your brother says that, then yeah, you must be doing something, right?

Speaker 2:

I wrote him instructions on how to book a flight once when we were going to see our younger brother in Japan and uh, this I was like a precursor to me writing this newsletter. I was like, oh, there's something to this, just lay it out. Um, so yeah, and that's. Those are the two main things and hopefully it helps people kind of go from A to Z.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, my favorite thing is is I Delta points. They changed the way that the you know I used to get tons of points for flying. Now it's like all my flights are like economy flights to Orlando and stuff.

Speaker 1:

So, you get nothing for him now, right and it's. You know, you got to pay more money or something. I don't know what in the world their deal is, but they definitely screwed me up. So but I, I, you know I'll use Lyft because Lyft will give you points. I, when I get pizza, I go to Donato's pizza because I've got some kind of thing hooked up with my credit card where it'll it'll send me that in, and there's several ways that I can get points by doing other things that tie into. I think it was dining rewards. Delta has a dining rewards thing or something, but it ties into my Delta sky miles. So you know, I'm doing that kind of stuff but I I try to funnel everything into Delta sky miles. Are there? Is that like a strategy that you see people using or that you recommend to people say like, hey, find your favorite points program and then funnel kind of everything into that?

Speaker 2:

To an extent, I would say don't have a favorite points program, Be agnostic. The loyalty programs are like they play on emotion. That's great, that's marketing, that's how they do it. But I'm like I don't care which program it is. To me it's just like which is going to get me the goal. Care which program it is, to me it's just like which is going to get me the goal. And so if I want to fly to Europe and I know that these airlines are, or these airlines have lots of flights, and I know these are the points I can use, I'm concerned about these points. I'm not concerned about some other potential option that maybe I like them more. I'm like that's doesn't matter if I like them. This is about the goal. Um, I I'm going to suggest to you that maybe you try branching out from sky miles. Uh, because in my I would say, educated opinion, uh, they're one of the worst on the planet when it comes to redeeming points.

Speaker 1:

They've been messing me up. Yeah, They've been ruining. Over the years They've gotten worse. I.

Speaker 2:

I. I get questions sometimes. I'm like oh, do you do brain deals with airlines? I'm like, well, not Delta. At least I've said too many things. I say that as someone whose father flew 2.8 million miles on Delta for work travel, so I'm familiar. This is not. This is not me just talking.

Speaker 1:

Your dad might as well just got his pilot's license. At that point, just go ahead and fly your own plane.

Speaker 2:

Yeah for sure. Yeah, I think part of it is learning about one. Just, different programs offer different benefits and then, when you can earn points with credit cards, you can transfer to lots of different airlines. And so you start to think about like I can book the same flight so like let's do a quick example like Swiss Swiss flies to Zurich from a bunch of airports in the U? S. You could book with United miles. I think most Americans would think about United cause it's an American carrier, but you could also use air Canada's aeroplane program or you could use Avianca life miles.

Speaker 2:

And it's like it's all booking the same flight. You're just using a different program that also partners with Swiss. They're all star Alliance. It's like it's. It feels very confusing at the beginning, but it all starts to kind of make sense. It's like a little puzzle. But each program has their own award rates. So you're just looking for like which one's going to charge me fewer points so that I can transfer points from my bank fewer than I would have to or otherwise have to. So it's again like it's. It's a bit like putting together a puzzle. Yeah, it just takes a little thought.

Speaker 1:

Well, I'm a big Chase guy. My wife likes the American Express stuff and she's got that. What is it? It's like the purple American Express Delta card and there's like another one. It's like the problem I have with all these credit cards and maybe you can demystify this for people but they'll have like three or four points cards and I've got like the chase stuff right. One of them will get you certain things, the other one will get you other things and then this one will get you this thing. So you got to have like two or three of them to get all the things that you actually want and then remember to use them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I know, people put stickers on their cards that says like grocery or dining or whatever.

Speaker 2:

I mean, it's whatever it takes. But yeah, to me I always tell people there's kind of three main approaches to credit cards if you want to travel. And there's the keep it simple stupid. It's just like you get one to three cards. They have bonus categories that fit your spend patterns. Then you never think about credit cards again Works really well for businesses with a high spend.

Speaker 2:

In the middle is more of kind of a hub and supplement, where it's like you build a truly a hub of like four to five credit cards, again focused on bonus categories, and then you pick up a new card for a signup bonus here and there, based on whatever your travel needs are. And then, if you just like want to go way too far, you can do the kind of maximalist approach which is just focus on earning signup bonuses repeatedly and so it's a. It's it's, I mean, at its basics or most basic. It's just the simplest for the most complex, but also the fewest points to the most points. So it just depends what kind of bandwidth you have, how much you want to invest into a hobby.

Speaker 2:

Uh, just time-wise. Um, I don't know. I always put it. I always put it like I know people who play golf and some show up on the weekend, have a few beers and hit the ball and then others go to the driving range Cause they want to be good on the weekend when they go out with their buddies and like one of you is going to be a lot better, yeah, that's OK. And like the people who don't put in that time and effort, they just have to know that, like they're not going to be the best one out there, Set your expectations yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly, just kind of know what you're getting into.

Speaker 1:

And do you ever cancel cards or you just kind of let them, like once that all the benefits expire, do you cancel them and then hope they send you another offer or something, or how's that work?

Speaker 2:

So I always tell people I give every card a fair shake, that I get every card. I got to give it a fair shake for like a year and if it's got to earn its keep, it's pretty, it's I don't know, I don't know it's harsh, but it's just. If you're going to, if the card's going to provide more benefits that I'm going to have to pay in the annual fee, I will consider keeping it. Keeping it Sometimes I still won't keep it because I don't think it provides enough based on the annual fee.

Speaker 2:

I'm unusual in that I travel a lot more than most people, so it's easier for me to leverage a lot of benefits. But otherwise I think it's like I always say you get kind of your keepers, the ones that you're going to stick with in the wallet and if some, if a new card comes out or maybe a card's earning structure changes a bit and it fits you better, well then you just replace it. It's a, it's cutthroat. I don't like, I don't know what to tell you. It's like I don't have any emotional attachment to some bank's credit card. No, no, no, no. It's like. That's just what it is.

Speaker 1:

So I mean they're banks. They don't care about us ocean.

Speaker 2:

So fine, hey, that's fine. I'm just utilizing the programs they've set up and, yeah, there's, there's just, it's just a matter of kind of putting together the wallet that fits your life.

Speaker 1:

I need BlackRock to come up with a card, since they own everything. They'd have a great rewards program. It'd be like every, every S&P 500 company would participate. So so, ok, top three cards right now, like at this moment, if somebody was like man, I, I want to take advantage of this. What do you think the top, if I could say sign up for three cards. They're going to balance out with each other and they got great programs right now. Which ones do you think and I know I'm putting you on the spot, but which ones would you say would be would be good ones to have in your wallet?

Speaker 2:

As my friends will tell you, I have the urge to ask lots of follow-up questions to get an insight into where they're spending money. But broadly speaking, I think for those who want to travel and are going to be out quite a bit, I think the Capital One Venture X is an easy one for people because it just earns 2x points on any of your day-to-day spending. It's just easy. Basically, the goal to me is never earn 1x on a purchase, and that just makes it easy. You're not. Basically, the goal to me is never earned one X on a purchase, and that just makes it easy. And so you also have lounge access with that um for a lot of airports, so that helps. So if you're traveling a lot, um, that can be really useful and I think you know it's. It's the best bang for your buck If you want perks like that as well as like trip delay insurance in case your flight gets delayed and it'll cover a hotel for you, stuff like that.

Speaker 1:

So I think, that's a oh.

Speaker 2:

There's a lot of fun benefits that most people don't have ever even scratched.

Speaker 1:

So don't buy the travel insurance on the website Wait but use a card that has the travel insurance. Yeah, I mean truly.

Speaker 2:

And I, a lot of people are like, oh, I'll never use it. And then I tell them I'm like, well, I'd used it four times in four months because you just never know. Wow, so it's. But yeah, I think that's an easy one for people. I think those who are going to kind of dig in a bit more, I always tell people to start with like Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, so like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which you can then pair with like a Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited. If you have a business, you can pair it with any of the three ink cards the ink preferred, ink cash and ink unlimited, and they all can pull their points together. So business owners have a huge advantage of this.

Speaker 1:

I've got the reserves, so I've got that one, and it's yeah it's. It definitely racks up some, some points there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I and I always tell people if you want to kind of get dig deep into points, chase is really where you want to start, because they do have some rules about whether or not they'll approve you and they're just more strict. So, um, yeah, that that gets in the weeds I cover in the beginner's guide if anybody wants to understand why. But it's, um, but that's can be a good one for people who are kind of trying to push a little bit more. But I think you have a lot of options honestly. Um, there's's Amex cards that are membership rewards points, same concept as Chase. Ultimate Awards, same concept as Capital One's miles. They just transfer to a bunch of partners.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's, the key is being able to move this stuff around.

Speaker 2:

And that's the fun part. I mean you can use the points within their kind of internal travel portals, but the value is generally a lot higher when you're transferring to airlines. Um, it's not the sexy part I think people love when they earn a lot of points, like that's exciting. They see their balance go up and I'm like that's just, that's the first step. Yeah, like rubber meets the road on the trip. Like you don't just earn these just to have them. Um, yeah, there's, it's's not, it's not an investment. This is not like your stock portfolio. These will not these. The value is not going up. Airlines will devalue the programs.

Speaker 1:

earn them, use them like this is when you got a nice filter program, a nice filter on your, on your on the credit card part, like the best credit cards recommending here and there's a lot of cards. But if I want hotels I can filter by hotels, airlines, rent, rent. There's that built card and I've seen that's really cool and I get like full disclosure.

Speaker 2:

I serve on like an advisory board for them, but they are a fascinating program because they are rewarding people who rent and there hasn't been a lot for renters. No, it's been the opposite of that. Yeah, so, as someone who has rented his entire life, it was really exciting when they launched this, but it's so. It's a loyalty program for renters. But they also offer a credit card. You can join with or without the card, um, and they're. They're doing some really creative things and interesting things in the space. Um, but just be honestly like, if you live in a big city and you spend too much money on rent the way I do in DC, uh, it's uh move back to Lexington You'll you'll have to rent probably yeah.

Speaker 2:

Oh I, I, I love looking at cost of living comparisons. Just to make myself hurt. I'm like I'm sorry, did you say that rent 70% cheaper?

Speaker 1:

No, I do that too, but I look at the cost of living calculator for different countries. So, oh yeah, you can do that too. You for buenos aires, right, like I'm looking at that and it's and I've got a little hack too the blue rate right, you send money via western union down there and you get twice what the bank will give you right, or you go on the street and get even more, but then you get counterfeit money but yeah and it and it's so cheap it's like crazy.

Speaker 1:

I'm like you know, the food on the street is like looks delicious and it's like 50 cents and it's like man, I could just, I could just work remote and just do whatever.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I thought about that.

Speaker 1:

Live like a king. Oh, you, 100%, should do it.

Speaker 2:

Look at what you're doing here. So we're going to stick to this for now, but I'm telling you, I got to say the first. I just remember being in Romania with my buddy, tim, and we're like walking around Bucharest and I was like this is a cool neighborhood. I wonder how much it like costs to live here. And I'm like looking at luxury apartment and I'm like absolutely not. I can't look at this anymore. This is too depressing.

Speaker 1:

We did that in Budapest. We did that same thing Anywhere in Eastern Europe. It's ridiculous. And Montenegro, like beautiful, right, yeah, and you're looking at it and you're like this is great. Or South America Name a country in South Iroquois, right Monty video. And it's like on, you're on the water, you're in a major city in a country that's got its stuff together. It's just stupid cheap. It's just like wild.

Speaker 2:

Oh my goodness, we're spoiled. In america you can do, you can do the same thing in thailand and you see these places and you're like. You're like, oh, luxury apartment, eight hundred dollars a month, less. It's like okay never mind.

Speaker 1:

My wife and I walked it. We were in phuket. We walked out of our resort. We go onto this little street and all there is is restaurants and massage parlors, right, and we go into the first massage parlor, we look at the prices and we're like we got to be adding this up, wrong, right? Well, we get there and at the end, four bucks for both of us to get an hour massage. I'm like Melissa, you know how cheap it would be for us to live here, like we could live like kings, but she owns a spa. Same thing your wife, you know, she, she has a physical place. She has to be every day. So that's the downside. So so tell me, spencer, like, what would be the best way for people to get started with you, with your program, to get involved in, in, you know, starting this kind of side hustle, you know working credit cards for points and everything. Would it be your newsletter?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I would say, if you're new to kind of credit card points, um, and even if you think you know a lot, it's not a bad idea to get a refresher. I think the beginner's guide on the site is a great place to start. If you have points and you're looking to travel internationally, uh and business or first-class, the newsletter is the way to go. Um, I'm also very active on Instagram. My handle's at straight to the points, and I do a lot of. I do put up a lot of content, answer a lot of questions on there, so that's a great way to kind of stay current. I love it, man.

Speaker 1:

This has been great. Well, it's good to speak to a Kentucky guy. We get people from all over the world and it's like, man, I Lexington guy, you're an hour hour and 15 minutes away from where I'm at, so actually I'm already across the river. It's probably an hour. So yeah, man, this has been awesome and congratulations on you know, being able to start a business doing something you love. I mean, this is, it's, outstanding. Is there anything we didn't talk about that you want to tell people?

Speaker 2:

I think we covered it. I think the only thing I would say is just, it can feel like a lot at the beginning because it's a whole new thing. Just take it slow. Everybody is going. Everybody will have felt what you feel as you try to like, get a, get a handle on all these, like all this new information, and don't be shy about asking questions. We've all asked them. Oh yeah, I'll be asking a lot of questions. Cool man?

Speaker 1:

Well, I'm definitely. I I'm going to sign up for the newsletter. I'm going to take a look at your website a little more in depth and yeah, you're a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate you being on here with us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Adam, appreciate it. All right, have a good one.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests, now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, side hustle city. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

(Cont.) Unlocking the Secrets of Credit Card Rewards for Opulent Vacations with Spencer Howard