Welcome back to Good Points, a Q&A about credit card points, the people who collect them, and where they take us. This week’s guest is Victor Jeffreys II, Gizmodo Media Group’s heart, soul, polymath, party pimper, event planner, artist in residence...the list goes on. You can check out his photography over on his personal Kinja, and be sure to read his travel tips Q&A on Lifehacker for some more advice that’s less points-driven.
If you know anyone who just won’t shut up about their points strategy, have them send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Good Points” for a chance to be featured. We want to talk to everyone from professional travelers who spend their lives on the road, to people who save all their points on one trip per year, so don’t be shy!
What first got you hooked on collecting points?
There was no ‘inciting incident’ that got me hooked. I think when I realized that I could make money/points essentially for “free.” Over the years I have transacted a not inconsequential amount of money on credit cards, and only once paid interest on said money. So I was like, “fuck yeah, sign me up.”
What are you trying to accomplish by collecting points? Pay for all of your small trips? Splurge on vacations that you wouldn’t otherwise take? Somewhere in between?
There is no particular goal in mind. In my view it is a rainy day fund—a friend’s family member dies and they need help getting out of town—my brother REALLY wants to go on a certain trip—whoever ends up buying this god damned company decides they don’t want me—my points will be VERY helpful getting me out of town.
What credit cards do you currently hold, and why’d you get them?
The Gold Delta Skymiles Amex—I got it because of Delta. I know, I know, I could be doing better.
What point redemption are you most proud of?
This past Christmas, my mom, a Tica (that means ‘a woman from Costa Rica’), was mentioning to my great aunt and me that she really wanted to go see her mother in Costa Rica (my grandmother is getting old!). My great aunt casually said ‘I will go with you!’—(my father is in poor health, so it makes it hard for him to travel—and my mom feels most comfortable traveling with someone)—my mother’s eyes lit up—she said ‘Come with me!’
In all the excitement, I figured the amount of money they would have spent on the tickets was much more consequential than the points I would ‘lose’ by buying the tickets for them myself. I was moved by the entire interaction so I just told them that the three of us should meet for breakfast in the morning.
We sat down at breakfast, I simply asked, ‘When do you all want to go to Costa Rica?’—they threw out dates, I excused myself from the dining room table and dialed up my peeps at Delta (Delta Medallion 800 numbers are amazing—A REAL PERSON PICKS UP THE FIRST TIME!)—and booked two tickets for them.
I went back to the dining room table—mentioned that everything was settled and that they should start thinking about packing! It took them a full 10 minutes to realize that I was serious when I mentioned I had just gotten them tickets...they cried, I cried (I rarely cry...I should cry more)— I felt like I had done something nice. I made a simple gesture that kept them from having to make a real sacrifice. Who knew points could be so deep!
What point redemption are you least proud of?
I guess I am least proud of how little I have cashed in on them. I am sitting on TONS of miles.
What’s the first card you recommend to people who are interested in getting into points, and why?
I don’t. Having only the Delta Amex only is not the best play; I should have other cards...I should be reading Lifehacker more often.
Do you have lounge access with your status?
Yes—-well, no—I mean yes, kind of. If you show up with, big hair, dressed in all black, fancy sunglasses, and a straight back, you would be surprised how much you can get. If my ticket does not come with it, I just go to the lounge, ask nicely, smile, make a joke, and 90% of the time I am let in.
How do you keep track of things like points, bonus categories, free nights, and annual fee dates?
I don’t. I am really terrible at this. Whatever the Delta app says is what I got.
Let’s finish off with a few rapid fire questions. I give you enough points to take three flights anywhere in the world in economy, or one flight anywhere in the world in first class. What do you choose?
The former. At this point, I have decent status on Delta—again, if I show up with my hair brushed out, dressed in black and in sunglasses (regardless of departure time)—the counter attendant generally thinks I am ‘somebody.’ So between that and my status, I generally end up getting upgraded. So....I’ll take the three economy with the ‘understanding’ I will likely end up in first anyway.
Top three items on your travel bucket list?
I REALLY want to go to Bamako to dance. I also want to visit Buenos Aires and Marrakesh.
Favorite city you’ve ever visited?
I don’t really have favorites. Havana, Jaipur, Klikor-Agbozume.
Still no favorites, but Acandí (ACD)—it is one room AND they let me hang out in my speedo while I waited for my flight.
LaGuardia (I will say LAX can be insane...because, yes, the fucking traffic).
Favorite hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
Airplane drink of choice?
Three items you can’t travel without?
Something to write/draw with and on, an extra pair of glasses (and sunglasses), a jock strap or speedo.
Suitcase of choice?
I have been rocking an Incase EO Hardshell Roller bag. LOVE IT. (I DO wish the wheels were black instead of yellow....).
Can you sleep on a plane?
In a fully flat bed—hell yes I can.
Window seat or aisle seat?
In first class, business, a bulkhead seat, or on short flight? Window. If I’m spending three hours or more in economy, I’ll take the aisle. I have a high metabolism—which means I pee a lot—I need access to the potty!
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