As a blogger, I talk to a lot of people. And lately I’ve come to realize that the best insights into the travel “game” are gleaned from those conversations, not through passive reading. I had a great experience meeting some of my readers, fellow bloggers, and a few legends at the Chicago Seminars. I’m even more excited about who I’ll meet at the upcoming Star MegaDO and LAX Frequent Travelers University.
I’ve learned tricks about getting extra discounts on hotels, how to maximize the value of my frequent flyer miles on award trips, and certain ways to use credit cards to get even more miles and points on credit cards by stacking bonuses and funneling from one account to another.
The fact is, when you communicate with someone more regularly, you are likely to share information that can’t be posted publicly, and you’re also more likely to get some information in return. Just the other day I was trying to apply for a Platinum Card from American Express. I remembered there was a 50K point sign-up bonus, and since I had just applied for Global Entry using my Premier 1K benefit from United, I figured I may as well get the card to cover Megan’s fee, too. The problem was that my link didn’t work. Even the BoardingArea ads on my blog didn’t work. They all work again now, so it may have been a glitch on AmEx’s side.
Fortunately, I broadcast my fate to my Twitter followers and learned Mr. Pickles had just received an offer for the Business Platinum Card. And it offered 100K Membership Rewards points. Score! Fate had led me to a better deal, and the business version actually has one or two benefits that aren’t part of the personal card. I got instant approval. (Please note, he only had one. Please don’t spam him asking for another.)
My other card application that day was for the Chase Freedom, since the Chase Exclusives program is ending in a few days. The rumor is you need to have a Chase checking account and a Chase Freedom card (no annual fee) opened by November 11 in order to get in on Chase Exclusives, which offers discounts on mortgages, auto loans, and a few other benefits. Chase has lots of promotions it mails out offering $100-300 for opening a new checking account, and I was able to call on my readers again to see if any of them had a promo code.
Sure, sometimes people tell me things because I’m a blogger. I have an advantage. But there are lots of people who are social and network well without being active bloggers. Mr. Pickles had a blog but hasn’t been active lately, so I follow @TheMrPickles instead. @FlyerTalkerinA2 keeps mulling the idea of starting one but seems to prefer tweeting (and he has over 900 followers). I know a few people in the Seattle area who share some good ideas when they come across them. Even before I started blogging, I was active on MilePoint, where I would share private messages about deals with a few people because we had talked together a lot in the forums. I knew they wouldn’t spill the beans about things too important to be made public.
If you really want to advance your knowledge of the latest travel deals and tricks, you have to be social. You can still sit behind a computer, but you have to post, not just read. There are so many people on FlyerTalk who are long-time lurkers, members for five years or more with under 10 posts. Feel free to ask questions. Soon you’ll be answering them too. If you get the chance, come out to our events, too. The next Frequent Travelers University will be near Washington, DC in a few months and tickets are already selling fast. Other smaller get-togethers are posted on FlyerTalk and MilePoint. They can be some of the best ways to get involved in the community.