Cost cutting and points

Cost cutting and points

“How can these guys afford all of this travel?” you may be asking yourself. Flights are expensive, and after a few days, hotels can be even more so. After living in New York City for more than five years, Charley and I found ourselves with a lot less in savings than we should have. To that end, reading money-saving tips from Nomadic Matt and The Points Guy has been completely indispensable.

If you’ve ever wanted to do more traveling, Matt’s book How to Travel the World on Fifty Dollars a Day is a pretty important read. With it, I’ve got a new stash of money-saving secrets. It comes down to priorities. In expensive parts of the world, where hotels can run hundreds of dollars a night, I don’t think staying in cheap hostels here and there is going to kill us. Wherever it’s possible to find accommodations that have a fridge or any sort of kitchen equipment, going grocery shopping and getting some basic groceries like pasta and sandwich supplies is definitely the way to go.

The Points Guy’s blog is a different story entirely. TPG himself, Brian Kelly, is a fanatic about following the world of loyalty hotel, credit card, and airline points, and how to get absolutely the most value out of them. Since finding his blog a few years ago, I’ve learned so much about points and miles, and I’ve stockpiled a pretty healthy collection that I’m really excited to use. With my points collection in hand, I can fly in premium cabins and stay in premium hotels that I would never be able to afford on my own. We’ll be getting into more information later on how to start racking up the points, but in the meantime, let’s take an inventory of the points and miles that Charley and I are holding onto before we begin our trip:

Loyalty Program Points Holder
American Airlines 523,000 Craig
American Airlines 159,000 Charley
United Airlines 85,000 Craig
United Airlines 58,000 Charley
Hyatt 13,000 Craig
Marriott 19,000 Craig
Starwood Hotels 43,800 Craig
Chase Ultimate Rewards 160,000 Craig
Chase Ultimate Rewards 60,000 Charley
Citibank Thank You Rewards 0 Craig

In upcoming posts, you’ll hear a lot more about how we amassed these points and miles, what you should do if you want to start a collection of your own, and all the suggestions I have for how to spend them. Sadly, there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution for how to get started with credit card points, but I have one piece of advice for people looking to get started: as long as you’re the type who pays off every credit card bill in full every month, consider getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a really solid overall choice. It’s my favorite card in my wallet, for two main reasons:

  1. Points can transfer to a really nice variety of rewards programs, including United Airlines, Hyatt hotels, IHG hotels, and more.
  2. Double points accrue for all dining and travel expenses. Given the fact that I lived in New York City for five years, I certainly spent a lot on dining, and “travel” expenses includes subway tickets, train tickets, parking fees, and more. Even with only moderate spending habits, this card can generate a lot of rewards in a year.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned to find out more.


Craig Chu

Craig Chu

Craig is a credentialed pension actuary who worked most recently as a software developer with Winklevoss Technologies, in Greenwich, CT USA, where he worked to maintain and develop ProVal, the world’s leading software product for pension valuation and forecasting analytics. A proud graduate of Caltech, he is a big fan of all things science-related, as well as (in no particular order of preference) beer, New York City, choral singing, and cats. He can be reached at

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