With her rewards points savvy, Cacinda Maloney created a career and life of adventure out of a hobby. She founded the luxury travel blog, PointsandTravel.com
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Cacinda Maloney began her professional life as a physician in Phoenix, Arizona, where she practiced for 22 years. It was an unlikely start to a travel venture, but something clicked when she began to use credit cards and rack up rewards.
“I traveled every six weeks of my life using airline miles and hotel points from charging at the clinic,” says Maloney. “That included things like office supplies, utilities and electronic purchases. That led me down the path of trying to figure out how to use the rest of the miles my family and I were accumulating. I was managing my husband’s and two kids’ miles and points along with my own when we were flying around the world.”
Eventually, Maloney realized that she could make a business out of charging, earning rewards and traveling the globe. In 2012, she left the clinic for a life of adventure and launched PointsandTravel.com. Today Maloney is a successful luxury travel writer, Travelocity columnist, brand ambassador, and photographer.
And credit cards, of course, continue to be an integral part of her business plan.
What was your beginning with credit like?
Coming out of graduate school with a lot of debt, I really didn’t know that much about credit history until I started traveling. Now, 25-plus years later, I understand credit history a lot more and know how to use it to my advantage to further my business. Initially, I used my credit to obtain credit cards in order to get airline miles and hotel points.
Having a great credit history really helped me lay the foundation for obtaining the credit cards I would use to launch my business in travel. I was wheeling and dealing when I first opened PointsandTravel. It entailed opening and closing credit cards on a continual rolling basis. I had a system that worked quite well: I learned which card to use and when, along with when to close the account. This strategy allowed me to maximize the card’s benefits. I was quite organized and while I may have made a few mistakes, I played the game well, overall.
In which way are credit cards helping you and your business become successful?
One way that credit cards help me is by keeping everything organized. I know if I put something on a certain credit card, then it is a business expense and not a personal one. I have become very rigid about this in order to manage my receipts a lot easier (for IRS purposes) when it’s time to do my taxes.
Each month, I make sure the credit cards are paid off in full, so I don’t pay any interest. I don’t use any special software to manage everything. I still receive and review traditional paper bills, but I pay online through my bank.
Which credit cards do you have and use? Why did you choose them?
I have a couple right now. The first is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I travel all the time and this card gives me lots of reasons to hold onto it. For example, I get a $300 annual travel credit every year, triple points on travel and dining and there are no foreign transaction fees. It also gives 50 percent more value when I redeem my points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and I get Global Entry and access to thousands of airport lounges.
The other card I have is the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. I live in an American Airlines hub and travel on the airline all the time, with Executive Platinum status. There are other reasons, but that is the main one!
I charge pretty much everything to these cards — blog registration, website management, social media management, travel-related expenses such as food, transportation, hotel charges, etc. Anything business-related goes on the card for tracking purposes. Because of that, I earn a large amount of rewards. As for using them, I primarily use the rewards to bring someone with me on paid campaigns relating to PointsandTravel, but I also trade them in for annual family trips with my kids.
Do you have any advice for other business owners about credit reports, scores and cards?
It is always an excellent idea to have good to great credit. You need this during those lean months or years until your business gets established. Rotate your cards over time to get the maximum benefit from each one. Evaluate them every two to three years to make sure you know what you are getting from them.
While you’re using credit cards, stay on top of your credit scores and review them often so you know where you stand at all times.
Be careful with fraud, too. Always check your credit reports If you happen to see someone using your credit — check your credit reports, always notify the agencies so you can keep your record clean.