travel economics

Digital Nomad Economics: Using Points/Miles Wisely

It’s tempting to use points and miles for travel, cash or other rewards just because you have a high balance. For the uninitiated, they still look at points and miles as freebies.

The truth is points and miles are currency. The value for a single point/mile isn’t high, usually about 1-2 cents a piece. But the benefits can be huge without a whole lot of time or effort. In fact, it’s lost money if you’re not considering it as a viable way to automate your everyday budget purchases into a passive income.

Making five figures a year is a pretty easy feat for most people if they’re willing to put a few hours in every month.

For now, focus on the one fundamental rule, understanding the value of a point or mile. Again, they’re all worth 1-2 cents but the variation can be big. The Points Guy has a fantastic monthly chart showing the valuation of points across every loyalty program and you can find it here.

We can get into earning points/miles later, but next time you look at burning through your stash, look at these values and compare it to the cash price of the hotel room or flight ticket. Sometimes you can get a $1,000 flight for 10,000 points, and sometimes you can get a $100 flight for 25,000 points. Just multiply the points required for the redemption by the value and see if you’re better off using the points or sticking with cash. It varies on every search, so don’t just burn the points without understanding their value as currency.

Digital Nomad Economics: Register for Every Airline & Hotel Loyalty Program

Even if you don’t travel very often, you must be a “member” or “guest” in all the major airline and hotel loyalty programs. They have dozens of factors to rank your merit as a customer and those who are unaffiliated rank dead last. Even an infrequent traveler gets a little more recognition, leading to better boarding zones when flying or better rooms when staying at a hotel.

And if you’re not making sure you get points for EVERY leg of your travel, you are missing out big time. Points and miles add up. It takes time. Be patient. But every lit bit counts. And there are always offers to get freebies or double or triple points for certain trips.

So go spend 30 minutes and register for the following:

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

British Airways



United Airlines




Marriott/SPG/Ritz Carlton

There are plenty of others around the world, and some left off intentionally that we don’t suggest using (Frontier, Southwest, Spirit). You have to start somewhere, so get going and make sure you’re on the list with all these big companies. When you finally fly one in three years, trust me when I say you’re likely to do better if they see the “member since 2018” instead of nothing. Granted, airlines generally treat all humans like cattle (or worse). But that’s why you have to fight for every little bit of recognition.

Digital Nomad Economics: Signup for 'The Points Guy' Daily Newsletter

Probably shouldn't be directing you too far off my site, but hey, I don't care much for convention. Check out and signup for their daily newsletter. So much great content for savings - and not the b.s. "deals" and "specials" that you see on every site. They just give real tips and tricks on how to earn free perks and live like a king/queen/princess/loon while on the road.

Digital Nomad Economics: Schwab ATM Card

The Charles Schwab checking account is a must. It's free and easy to sign up for...enabling you to access virtually EVERY ATM WORLDWIDE WITH ZERO FEES!!! Seriously. There's no catch or monthly minimum. You never get a charge from them for using an ATM, and they rebate all the fees you rack up using any network ATM. Exchange rate is favorable. You should never ever go to an exchange spot in an airport, train station, hotel or mall. It's a no-brainer to get this account and ATM card.

Here's a link for details on signing up (with no referral fee or incentive to me):