In the points game, knowing what, where, and when is absolutely key to being able to earn and burn points and miles cheaply and effectively. The best way to do that is to read FlyerTalk all day long. But for those of us that have a job and/or a life, points and travel blogs are the next best thing.
Blogs simplify, summarize, and explain things that the rest of us don’t have time to figure out on our own. Many people that read FlyerTalk hate blogs for this reason – it takes much of the work out of the game, while bloggers profit off of it. But clearly bloggers provide a service that is in demand, and I read tons of them everyday to keep up-to-date.
Scott at Hack My Trip did a post earlier this year on five travel blogs he thinks you should be reading, and I want to do something similar. I’ll list my personal favorite blogs and explain why they’re on my list. The reason I think this will be useful is simple: most people start with reading The Points Guy, then realize that tons of others exist for more detailed or better information (no insult intended to TPG). I’m hoping that I can point that out to you sooner than you might figure it out on your own.
Everyone’s top five will be slightly different depending on what they’re looking for. Some blogs provide general points program info, some provide detailed trip reports, some explain manufactured spending, some are for beginners, and so on. As you’ll see, my top five is kind of a mix.
So without further adieu…
#5 – Frequent Miler
The undisputed king of manufactured spend. I link to his blog all the time because he’s always on top of new prepaid cards and new ways to create points for free. He’s on the hunt for the “perfect perpetual point machine,” which is basically a way to continuously create points for free.
Manufactured spend is kind of a niche part of the points world, otherwise it would be higher on the list. But that doesn’t mean it’s not useful – you’ll see every points blog direct to his website for the One Card to Rule them All post and many other great posts.
Note that Frequent Miler won “Best Niche Blog” in this year’s Travel Summary Awards.
#4 – Hack My Trip
This one might not be on everyone’s radar, because it’s kind of hard to explain what Scott’s main theme is. Yes, travel hacking is the goal, but that’s the goal of lots of blogs. Hack My Trip is different – he focuses on actual travel hacking. His series on how to use ITA is fantastic, and his posts on fuel dumping are useful and secretive at the same time.
He also has frequent guest posts from knowledgeable people. Amol is one of them, and I thought his post on fifth freedom flights was really useful. Full disclosure, I did a couple of posts for Scott on Hack My Trip (about Credit Card Fees and Best Rate Guarantees). I would have loved to continue writing for him, but found doing that and keeping up with Travel Summary was too much.
Oh, and my favorite thing? He doesn’t push credit cards! Yes, he’ll recommend them. Yes, he has links to them. But he never writes a post about a credit card solely for the credit card. He’ll first provide a ton of useful information, making that the primary subject of the post, and then at the end he’ll put a link. I appreciate this. It makes a difference to me.
#3 – Million Mile Secrets
Some people really love this one, and some people really hate it. Haters say that he dumbs things down way too much, making fun of the fact he simplifies everything so much that he even puts arrows and circles in his pictures. People who love him say that he provides a ton of useful information that beginners really appreciate. So basically, the haters are the experienced points crowd.
I tend to like him. He is the most honest and forthcoming about his affiliate relationships. He clearly points out all affiliate links, and always points to the actual best offer instead of just the affiliate offer (unlike many other blogs). Beyond that, his provides a ton of useful information…and sometimes even gets carried away.
For example, he’s in the middle of an unbelievable FOURTEEN part series on car rental deals. Useful, but that’s kind of overkill. He also did a ten part series on using Lufthansa miles. Yes he wanted you to use his link to get the credit card, but so did all the other bloggers. At least MMS provided a TON of useful information for you. If I had to choose a blogger to give affiliate money to for this card, I would have given it to him, hands down. He earned it.
But he also posts about new stuff as well. He was the first to post about the $1,000 Visa gift cards that had PINs (now unavailable). He also introduced us to Go Bank, which may or may not be a good alternative for manufactured spend.
With all that being said, I don’t like his trip reports. I find them to be boring. Sorry Daraius.
Note that Million Mile Secrets won “Best Blog for Beginners” in this year’s Travel Summary Awards.
#2 – View from the Wing
Gary is kind of a jack-of-all-trades blogger. He’ll write about anything and everything. The best part is that he’s been in the points game for decades, and that really gives him a unique perspective. He just has so much knowledge to rely on, and the information and insight he provides is very useful if you’re keeping up to date.
It’s hard to come up with a single or handful of posts that he’s made that were particularly useful. He constantly provides useful, insightful information. He talks about how to earn points via bank accounts, he let us know about Avianca/Taca, and he covers almost every topic we want to know about.
On the down side, I feel like he’s gotten a little carried away with the credit card deals. He’s moved in to pushing territory recently by covering the top 5 credit cards from every bank. Still, Gary just writes so much that many of his posts don’t include a single credit card link, so I can easily look past the ones that do.
Note that View from the Wing won “Best All-Around Blogger” in this year’s Travel Summary Awards.
#1 – One Mile at a Time
This is my hands-down favorite blog, and the reason is simple. Ben (also goes by Lucky) is extremely knowledgeable and covers a ton of topics, but he’s also entertaining while doing so. He makes funny comments here and there and writes informally while being professional, if that makes sense. And he writes about what many of us are interested in: truly aspirational awards.
Yes, Ben flies first class almost all the time. He actually flew the old version of Lufthansa’s Business Class just to try it and seems to be scarred for life at how bad he thought it was. He even wrote a follow-up post on it. This guy is just too funny.
But beyond that, I’ve found Lucky to be the most helpful. His blog has an “Ask Lucky” section that is by far the best secret of all the blogs. Ask him any question, and he’ll respond in a few days the best he can. You know you’re getting great info with his knowledge base.
And to take it a step further, Lucky can provide information that few other bloggers can provide when it comes to First Class trips. He flies so often and takes note of a lot of little things that the rest of us wouldn’t even think of, and that knowledge helps us make better decisions when it comes time to use our points. For example, he recently wrote a post about Cathay Pacific First Class aboard the 747 vs. 777. He was able to compare service, privacy, air circulation, bathrooms, and seating on the two different aircrafts. He even was able to recommend specific seats depending on if you’re traveling alone or with a companion and other factors. No one else with a blog has that kind of knowledge.
Yes, he does the whole credit card pushing thing too sometimes, but again…easy to ignore. He provides way too much value, entertainment value and points knowledge, to avoid because of the credit card stuff.
Note that One Mile at a Time won “Best Trip Reporter” in this year’s Travel Summary Awards.
Do you disagree with my list? What are your favorite blogs?