Intriguing new insight into points and miles, credit cards and loyalty programs, travel and more
Traveling can be a hobby, it can be a lifestyle, it can even be a spiritual journey. There are various reasons to travel, various ways to do it too. But something people would always love to have while travelling is comfort. Enter Vincent Tan, founder of PinterPoin, a blog where he shares the way of traveling in comfort of luxury without having to spend a lot of money for it. The secret? Using points and miles.
Points and miles are a type of currency that is earned every time someone takes a trip or make a purchase on a rewards credit card. And these can be used for free travel. In 2018, Vincent created PinterPoin to help guide people in the ways of using points and miles.
The beginnings PinterPoin was rooted in Vincent’s passion for traveling. And that, in turn, started with Vincent’s obsession with the aviation world. “When I was a child, I really loved to go to the airport and see all the big planes. But I grew up without many chances to travel because my family didn’t really like to travel. That held me back until I had a chance to study abroad in the U.S. So, in a way, that was when I first unleashed my passion for traveling, because by then I had the independence to travel to anywhere I wanted.”
He continues: “Then one time, back in 2013, I flew in economy class from Indonesia to the U.S., and it was agonizing. I liked traveling, but I didn’t like the idea of sitting in the airplane for 10 to 15 hours, sitting next to strangers that I didn’t know. That became a turning point for me.”
It was his first long-haul flight with a total flight time of 19 hours from Jakarta to Seattle, plus three hours of transit in Taipei. Vincent points out that sitting in the economy class for 16 hours can be a very exhausting trip for many people. Back then, he thought to himself: “Sitting in business or first class would be an entirely different experience. You can flip your seat into a flatbed to lay down, and get good food like in a fancy restaurant.” When he walked out of the plane, he took a sneak peek at the business class cabin, and said to himself: “One day, I’ll get there.”
Later on, Vincent found an article about points and miles. “It was something along the lines of ‘how to redeem points and miles for flying in first class for free,’ and it got me hooked. From then on, I started to learn. I started to read blogs and sites that talked about points and miles. That was where my passion for traveling developed further.”
Vincent recalls another memorable flight. “Have you heard about Singapore Airlines’ Suites Class? It was first introduced in 2007. At that time, I was still in middle school. I saw it on the news and I was amazed, I thought it was like a hotel in the sky. And I thought, one day, I have to try it.”
Those words became a manifesto. Vincent finally got to experience the Suites Class when he was a college student. “I was flying from New York to Hong Kong. The route was from New York, to Frankfurt, to Singapore, and then Hong Kong. I was the only passenger that lined up for the Suites Class before the boarding. Next to me were all businessmen, business travellers, and they were all flying in business class. I was a college student but I was traveling in the Suites Class. I thought that was really fun.”
So far, Vincent has experienced the business and first classes of the best airlines in the world, including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and many more. Vincent notes that it only happened because of points and miles.
“Next to me were all businessmen, business travellers, and they were all flying in business class. I was a college student but I was traveling in the Suites Class. I thought that was really fun”
After coming back to Indonesia in 2017, Vincent still kept up with the news sites and blogs about points and miles. He then realised that there wasn’t any reliable source about points and miles for Indonesians. Existing ones were focused on the U.S., U.K., Australia or Europe. That was, Vincent states, how he started PinterPoin. With the site fully in Bahasa Indonesia, Vincent intended it to focus on an Indonesian perspective.
“The concept of points and miles is very simple. It is like getting rewards from paying for something, or when you fly with an airline. When you have accumulated enough miles, you can redeem the miles and fly in business or first class, or even economy class as well,” Vincent explains. “One of the best ways to accumulate miles is also from using credit cards for everyday purchases. Many people have wrong perception; they think if you don’t fly often enough, you don’t get to accumulate miles. But the truth is, if you use the right credit card, you can accumulate miles even faster.
“Through PinterPoin, we teach people how to select the best credit card, how to maximize them, and also how to understand each loyalty program. For example, in Indonesia, the most common ones are Garuda Miles, Singapore Airline KrisFlyer, and people also use Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. There are so many of them and if you understand most of them, then you can maximize the idea of redeeming your points and miles for a luxury travel.”
If someone wants to start collecting points and miles, what advice would Vincent give? “Start right away. You can start by reading PinterPoin, because I made a comprehensive guide for beginners so they can learn how to get into the game,” he answers. “And then, if you don’t have a credit card, I strongly advise you get one. Even if it is a low-tier or entry-level card, get one and start building your credit. Once your credit limit is high enough, you can easily get any kind of high-end card. Those cards are really the best cards to accumulate points and miles.”
Speaking about the blog itself, Vincent shares that at first, it was only him writing in it. But then, as his audience grew and PinterPoin’s readers became passionate about it, some of them applied to become contributors. Right now, PinterPoin has three contributors. Vincent notes that for PinterPoin, he doesn’t just let anyone write. “We have to know that they have experience and knowledge about the topic,” Vincent states.
Of course, at the moment, travel is still very much limited. How does this affect a travel-focused service like PinterPoin? “We wrote a lot about the pandemic. We wrote about travel requirements during this pandemic. Also, I think there is a blessing in disguise here: So many hotels and airlines are giving out their status easily. You can get their top-tier services easier because they have reduced their requirements. We wrote about that, too.”
Vincent adds: “The one that is missing are the trip reviews. But occasionally we, the contributors, will go on staycations at hotels and we then will write reviews about it. We write about how the hotel copes with the pandemic, how the business is doing, and about the service. That’s one area that we are focusing right now.”
As we talked further about the challenges of creating content throughout the pandemic, Vincent declares: “We don’t just talk about loyalty programs but also about credit cards, aviation, hotels, travel, travel restrictions during the pandemic – there is so much to write about, actually. So, it is really easy to find content. We usually publish two to three articles per day, so it’s something that we want to maintain going down the road. Sometimes you do have slow news days, and when that happens, you have to be creative. You have to write something that is beneficial for the readers. You can share something that is simple but still useful for the people. I don’t see creating content as a struggle and we are truly grateful for that.”
At the end of our conversation, Vincent shares his hopes and plans for PinterPoin. “We want to be a legit media company. Right now, you can call it a blog. Because we don’t have any funding or partnerships, it is purely our views and opinions. We want to become a big media company; we want to influence people to start learning about loyalty programs. As for planning, we are looking for funding, currently. We have talked with some venture capitalists and they are kind of interested with what we are doing right now. But since it’s still the middle of the pandemic, maybe we will wait until the end of this year, or maybe next year, and then we’ll start to really look seriously into that.”