We’re sharing how to save money on flights in this week’s interview with Jared, the CEO of Thrifty Traveler. Jared shared how to use Thrifty Traveler Premium to save money on international flights and domestic flights, utilize credit card points to get free economy, business, and first-class flights, and inspire you to travel more with the many resources available on thriftytraveler.com. Jared shares how his passion for scoring high-quality airplane seats at affordable prices inspired Thrifty Traveler and how it has grown into the massive traveler’s resource it is today.
Thirty Traveler has tons of FREE resources for travelers, Its flight deal subscription service, Thrifty Traveler Premium sends the best airline ticket deals directly to your inbox daily, you can get $10 off your first-year subscription using promo code TS10 when you sign up!
After you sign up you’ll want to adjust your settings to the type of flights ure looking for. You can set your home departure airports, choose if you just want cash or points deals, and the flight classes you’re interested in. After that you’ll only receive emails about deals in your preferences, but you can always log in on the website to see everything.
How to Save Money on Flights – Episode Transcript
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad Podcast. Today we have a very special guest joining us, Jared Kurowski from the Flight Deal Alert Platform, Thrifty Traveler. We’ve been using Thrifty Traveler Premium for about six months now and we’ve been loving all of the flight deals that are coming in with points or cash deals. It’s been really cool and also very dangerous to see all of these deals come in, but it was really, really fun to welcome Jared onto the show. Get to know the creator behind the subscription service, hear how he came up with the idea, get a preview of some of his plans for expanding this amazing service. And we definitely geeked out a lot on getting good flight deals.
1 (1m 25s):
And Jared is giving all of you Squatty $10 off your first year subscription of Thrifty Traveler Premium. Just use our code TS 10. And with that, let’s welcome Jared to the Travel Squad Podcast.
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2 (3m 48s):
Hello Jared and welcome to the Travel Squad Podcast.
3 (3m 51s):
Hey, thanks for having me. Yes,
2 (3m 53s):
Thank you for joining us today. We’re so excited to talk to you. You are the CEO of Thrifty Traveler, an incredible strategic travel service that we’ve been using for a couple of months now. We absolutely love it. We’re so excited to dive into it. But before we get into the nitty gritty, we like to start all of our interviews by going way, way back. Anybody who has a business in the travel industry has to have a love for travel. And so we wanna go back all the way to the beginning and understand where did your love for travel begin? What is one of your first travel memories? Yeah,
3 (4m 30s):
That’s a great question. My first travel memory was I was six or seven years old. It was my first flight going with my family down to Florida. And all I can remember other than of course the flight was the night before, I couldn’t even sleep and you know, I was just a kid. But just like this fond memory now running, you know, obviously a a travel company and looking back on the memory, it makes a lot of sense. Like I was that excited way back then and I still kind of carry that excitement forward even to now. And I actually haven’t thought about that memory until you’ve brought this up, which is, and it’s a, it’s a great memory
2 (5m 8s):
That fits very well with Thrifty Traveler because you essentially capture that feeling of excitement leading up to a trip.
3 (5m 16s):
That’s actually why I like quit. I don’t wanna jump ahead too much, but that’s like why I quit my job is like that excitement of booking a trip, you know, going through the paces of you know, trying to save on it, trying to do all these things, you know, sometimes on a, on a budget. That was the excitement I got. And then I would go to my normal job, my nine to five job and I’d be like, I don’t have that same excitement. I was like, I gotta figure out a way to make enough money, you know, doing the thing that I love so that I can continue doing that. So it’s kind of crazy how that all works out.
2 (5m 50s):
Yeah, I love that that’s driven you to this point. So, so let’s dive right in. In your words, how would you describe Thrifty Traveler to someone that hasn’t heard of it before?
3 (5m 60s):
Yeah, so Thrifty Traveler Thrifty traveler.com is our website and we’re a cheap travel and news website with a, you know, a focus on flight deals and how to maximize credit card travel rewards.
2 (6m 17s):
I would agree that that sums it up very well and there’s a bunch of components to it on the website. There’s a ton of content on there, like you mentioned with deals that are coming through. There’s also a ton of really good content that gets you excited for the trip. The travel guides and things you need to do, things you need to see. So if you’re just exploring, you’re not quite ready for that flight deal. There is a lot of inspiration to get you excited for travel on that site.
3 (6m 47s):
Yeah, we’re not like a lot of other websites, like we have a flight deal subscription service that obviously people pay for. And then, yeah, we have news at Thrifty traveler.com, we have all these guides, so it’s really kind of, we’d like to think kind of like a one-stop shop for cheap travel. We’ve got, you know, we try to think sometimes like a travel hacking toolkit we’ll call it. There’s all these different tools you can use and we try to cover cover as many of those as as possible under kind of one umbrella, which can be tough at sometimes, especially with a small team. Well speaking of a small team and what you’re saying, it just kind of makes me think of the question ’cause of course us ourselves, we have our own travel business with the podcast and other things.
3 (7m 32s):
I’m curious to know, you told us what Thrifty Traveler was, when did you start and what did operations really look like till you guys got to this point? You know, was it just you, did you hire on somebody else and what steps did you take to get to where you guys are now? Because you guys are one of the industry leaders I feel like, in terms of travel, news, information, point hacking, all that stuff. Yeah, and as you guys know, it’s not easy to get started. Yeah, back in, back in 2015 I launched Thrifty traveler.com and you know, it’s just a side hustle. I used to, my old job, I was a CPA, I worked in banking, I was traveling a hundred nights a year.
3 (8m 13s):
So I was staying in a lot of hotels, flying a lot on planes and I was just trying to maximize all this time away from home, trying to earn points in miles by doing it. And then my wife wanted to travel. I didn’t have any money, we didn’t have any money so I had to figure out how to do it, you know, on the cheap and all the, I was telling friends and family all the time, you know how to do this that you need to create a website. So I finally did and then yeah, it was just a side hustle for, you know, two years, over two years. And then I launched our Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal alert service in 2017. And then that kind of just blew up at that time and, and it was gotten a lot bigger, a lot faster than I had expected.
3 (8m 54s):
So I I, I felt confident that I was making enough money to quit my job and then yeah, next year we hired our, our, our first two employees and yeah, fast forward now, you know, many years later, yeah our, we’re closing in on 25 employees. We’re based out of Minneapolis but we’ve got, we got team members all over the US so yeah, it’s, it’s been an interesting road. It’s never a stray line from when you start to, you know where we are now. But it’s been a journey and I’m sure you guys can attest to that, what it’s like.
2 (9m 27s):
Well congratulations. That’s really impressive to have grown it so organically pretty quickly and especially because Covid was thrown in the middle of that and travel took a big hit during that period.
3 (9m 39s):
It sure did. It sure did. But we spent that time, you know, our whole team almost our entire team that was even at the start of Covid is still with us.
2 (9m 47s):
3 (9m 48s):
Which is kind of crazy me a testament I think is probably how obsessed our employees are with travel. But yeah, we used Covid as a time to retool and just like work on peeing better ’cause we knew it wasn’t gonna last forever and we really exploded out of the pandemic and yeah, we doubled our size in 2022 and 2023 I think. Yeah, we’re gonna be up like 75% so. Wow. Yeah, COVID actually as bad as it was, I’ve worked out really well for our team to like really figure out what we’re doing and just fine tune things, which I think we turned it into a positive and you guys know it was, and everybody out there knows how negative it was, but we made the best of
1 (10m 30s):
It. I mean really that’s all you can do is just make the best of the situation. And what’s funny is we kind of saw that same type of dip when we hit Covid and then we saw that growth and explosion as well. So it’s definitely have heavens in the travel industry. But one thing I wanted to jump into with our listeners and for you to explain is we’ve got a lot going on. We have Thrifty traveler.com, we have the free subscription account and then the Thrifty Traveler Premium subscription account. And I would love for you to break down the difference of what you could expect from all of three of those services.
3 (11m 7s):
Yeah, yeah. So you can sign up go Thrifty traveller.com. We just have our daily newsletter, which is just again, cheap travel content tips. It’s just we have a huge team writing, a large part of our team is just writing content every single day on our website. And then the next one is I’ll, I’ll just call Thrifty Traveler Premium as our paid service. And those are just flight deal alerts directly to your inbox. You know, you get to choose from over 200 US and Canadian airports and we find deals with bookable, you know, just normal cash deals we call them. And then there’s of course deals that are bookable with points and miles, which is really where we’re pushing hard into and based on surveys of all our customers, people are really interested in getting more deals, you know, with their delta sky miles whether United or American miles just scratching the surface.
3 (11m 60s):
But there’s a lot there. And then we also have a free version of our Premium service just for folks to you know, try it out and you know, maybe see if it’s for them to kind of just figure out yeah, does this make sense? ’cause it’s a lot to wrap your head around at first, like what are all these flight deal alerts? Is this for me? And that’s why we created that, that free service And that’s really the free service is kind of where people kind of dip their toes in and try things out. The free service is like a little bit of an appetizer, right? Just lets you know what you’re about. This is the best flight deals available with cash price, right? It’s the Premium that will then go also cash miles, other sorts of things that you can actually go ahead and do.
3 (12m 43s):
And I just wanna mention right now to our squads out there, we actually have a promo code here for you guys. Promo code is TS 10 for $10 off your first year subscription for the Premium service and Jared, why don’t you tell our listeners how much the Premium service is for the entire year? Yeah, yeah. Premium services 89 99 a year. And one of the great things, unlike Netflix or other services, once you sign up for Thrifty Travel Premium, you’re locked in at that price and it never goes up and you guys know prices are always going up so it’s, you know, great to have customers lock that in and stick with us and yeah, use, use promo code TS 10 to save $10 off your first year.
3 (13m 26s):
And I just wanna say something too ’cause of course we’ve been using the Premium service that you guys have and what I really think sets you apart from other industry professionals and people who are sending out, you know, deals, flight mile points, this, that and the other is you guys go through great detail to actually really explain how to go about using it, telling you like this is best to use with this credit card for your transfer points. Or as a good example, maybe the flight is on British Airways but it tells you use one of their partners whose code shares because the point value is better than booking direct with the airline. Whereas when you see other people in your sphere, they really just tell you points but then they don’t tell you much more than that.
3 (14m 11s):
How do you go find it where to go? And I think that is one of the best things that I’ve actually seen and really appreciate about your guys and your service. Yeah, Jamal you bring up a good point. Like everybody’s talking like earn these points, sign up for this credit card and it’s like you have all these points, you’re like how do I actually use them and use them well and that was like the huge bridge that we had to kind of cross or you know, bridge the gap really because it’s, it’s confusing you know that’s, yeah that’s where our Premium service comes in ’cause you almost need what we call like a jungle guide to like kind of walk you through and explain or like you’re talking about the instructions. Like there’s so many different ways you can approach this and so many different miles and things of this.
3 (14m 53s):
It it, it’s confusing. It’s even confusing for me. I mean I get our emails as well of course ’cause we have a big team that’s you know, working on these flight deals and I get ’em and I’m like, oh I didn’t know about this or this way to book this deal. ’cause there’s a lot of different ways you can book one specific deal. So yeah that’s great. It’s like somebody holding your hand and and just kinda walking you through it, which makes it so much easier. It takes all the stress and legwork out of you know, finding and redeeming your miles.
1 (15m 21s):
I also really love that these are Flights that you can book months in advance. Yes. It’s not just these last minute gotta book right now, make that decision right now. These are flights that you can book, you know, 5, 6, 7 months in advance or even longer than that. And you specifically say in your email what months these are valid for what airlines will get you this flight, what to look on for on the Google search. And I think that’s really helpful, especially for someone that’s starting out for the first time getting into the points and miles games. You really spell it out for them and I think people would really, really appreciate that. And not only that, the amount of money that you’re saving on these flights is going to pay for the Premium service with just one flight.
3 (16m 6s):
Yeah, I know Brittanie we always talk about average savings is like $250 or more on just one flight. And one of the big problems that we see or we hear from people through our surveys all the time and just interacting with customers is they’re like, I don’t have any PTO left. I don’t have any time off left ’cause I’m already like booked all my 2024 leave is already gone. Like so I, I know a lot of people book you know, 1, 2, 3, sometimes four deals a year. Which I mean you think about how much you’re saving on that and just your time trying to find deals. You guys all know what that’s like. It can be time consuming and have somebody just plop stuff, you know, amazing deals right into your inbox can be pretty incredible.
3 (16m 48s):
And just to start what you said, yeah these aren’t last minute deals, like that’s not what we’re doing. We’re looking 11 months out as far out as we can. That’s like the first thing. And we used to do a lot of travel shows where we’d have like a booth for Thrifty traveler and we’d be talking one-on-one to customers and the first thing people would always say is, oh, these are for last minute trips. And it’s like, no, no, no, not at all. Like we’re only sending out flight alerts for deals that we would book ourselves. I think that’s like the difference between us and maybe other services or other websites is like, we’re only sending out high quality stuff that we would book. And that really is kind of like, I think our secret sauce, it might not sound like a big deal but there’s a lot of other like alert services out there that are just sending deals out or they have some kind of an automated thing that’s scraping the internet for pricing and just sending out a deal with no human looking at it.
3 (17m 41s):
And I think our secret sauce is we have obsessed employees flight deal analysts that are looking at all these deals and they’re not sending out anything unless it’s a a, a great deal.
2 (17m 52s):
What a dream job flight deal analyst.
3 (17m 56s):
We, and we’re, hi, we’re hiring another one coming up here. So yeah, it is, it is a pretty good gig. I will say as the company has gotten bigger, I, I don’t get to go into the flight deals as much, but that’s what I used to do is I was literally the guy who found all these deals and sent out the emails for our Premium service. And I miss doing that a lot because I do a lot with just, you know, managing strategy and stuff now, which might sound good to be CEO but flight deal analysts is a great gig and I know we’re really kind of hyping up the paid service because it really is so, so beneficial. But on your guys’ website you have a ton of content that anyone can access regardless of if you have a subscription or not.
3 (18m 40s):
So somebody who is maybe just getting into traveling or really figuring out how to use points and looking for deals, what type of other content can people find just available on your website that might be beneficial for them? Yeah, yeah, yeah. The the big thing would be yeah just go to Thrifty traveller.com, check out some of, you know we have some a great beginner’s guide that kind of just walks you through like what we’re all about. Where to start some content to read and you know, we have a great Google flights guide, which you know, anyone out there who’s booking flights, you should be using Google Flights to book. It’s one of our top posts, you know, credit card travel rewards, you know, if you don’t have a credit card and are maybe looking to open one, especially on the travel reward side, you know, what are some good beginner ones?
3 (19m 29s):
We have guides for that. And then yeah, we have news every single day. Like earlier today we sent out on, on our website a hotel alert, there was a Hyatt Hotel, an Ons hotel in Maui that’s bookable with points. It’s really hard to normally book. We had one of those alerts just at Thrifty traveller.com again on our website. This isn’t a part of a email service or anything like that. We’re just always sending out tips wherever we can. I mean a lot of those do find their way, you know e at Thrifty Traveler dot com so there’s a lot going on there and I think there’s something for everybody.
2 (20m 3s):
So I’ve seen a lot of the flights. You just mentioned hotels though. Is that an area that you all are gonna ramp up in?
3 (20m 11s):
Yeah, so we’re not gonna charge for it, we’re probably just gonna keep it at Thrifty traveller.com. But yeah, our team is building out kind of a, a search apparatus specifically for points and miles hotels, especially some of the luxury ones that are like maybe in like the Maldives or like I just talked about, you know, in Maui, in Hawaii there’s also some great ones like all-Inclusives Hyatt has some great all-inclusives ooh in the Caribbean and Mexico. Some of these can be really hard to book with points and miles. So we are searching every single day of word availability. We’re not charging for it in any way, we’re just posting it at Thrifty dot com and we right on our primary website. So yeah, just another place to check out some of that we’re not gonna charge for because we’re really focusing on our flight deal subscription service and we just want to perfect that.
3 (20m 59s):
We don’t want to complicate it anymore than we have to. Oh
2 (21m 3s):
That’s great. I will definitely be checking that out. And and that’s a, a big differentiator I think as well from other flight alert services that I’ve subscribed to in the past over there, you’re primarily seeing the last minute stuff, the lowest end of the booking rate, cheapest possible. And you all will feature those deals too when they come up. But I love to see the ultra Premium luxury business class. It is my goal this year to fly first class and there was a deal recently that came up, wasn’t even that crazy of a point situation either. I wanna say it was like 80,000 points or something like that.
2 (21m 43s):
But it was a France flight on a 40 something person plane. Ultra Premium, luxury Jared. You’re gonna start getting me in trouble here because I’m gonna start booking trips that are not on my radar because of these deals.
3 (21m 57s):
I know this is like, one of the cool things that we find out is like people are traveling to like destinations. They’re like, I didn’t even think I wanted to go there and, or it wasn’t like not on my radar at all and now I’m going to Sweden and I’m flying live flat so thank you. Okay. So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of crazy. We always talk about our employees, we get high on our own supply. Like we are looking these same deals that everyone that’s on the services. Like when we po post a hotel alert to Thrifty traveler.com like we were just talking about like our employees are booking this stuff too, we’re excited. Like when this stuff pops up we’re like, woo, wow I have a bunch of high points or you know, I wanna fly life flight in Europe.
3 (22m 41s):
Like I’m gonna book that or our team. It’s just, it’s kind of crazy and yeah it’s, it’s exciting at the same time but not so good when you already have too many trips booked.
2 (22m 51s):
Yeah. Another couple things I wanted to mention that I really like about it, you can set your departure airports so you’re only getting the emails on the Premium service for deals out of airports that you’ve specifically selected. So I live in Austin, I have Austin Houston, San Antonio, a couple others that I’d be willing to get close to to fly out for a good deal. But then you can log in on the website and just see everything, which I love. I find myself browsing on the website quite often.
3 (23m 22s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You can log to your, essentially your account and you can have, there’s tons more features can choose, you know, I only wanna fly like maybe I only wanna fly Delta like Sky team only or maybe if you’re, you know, an American fan one world only or specific months. There’s so many ways you can filter and look at different cities beyond just the email alerts and we’re spending a lot of Martinez time and our developers’ time trying to figure out how we can make this better and better and better and it’s constantly we’re iterating on that. So not to bore anybody too much, but there’s a lot more features that are coming out and we have a lot of stuff in development right now. But it’s great to hear Kim that yeah you’re already liking just cruising within your account.
2 (24m 4s):
Yeah. One other feature that caught my eye when I was in there setting things up is the text alerts. I haven’t gotten any yet but the text alerts are there if a extremely good hot deal comes in and it’s urgent enough to send a text message. So I’m pretty sure when one of those comes in I’m gonna have to be quick to book because it sounds like they’re already better than the amazing deals that are coming through on email.
3 (24m 31s):
Yeah and you’re only probably gonna get like one a month, maybe like one every two months. ’cause again, yeah we’re only sending out the absolute best deals or the most important ones. We call these unicorn alerts, that’s what we call like unicorn deals. Like these are ultra rare and a lot of times they’re not gonna be from your home airport, they’re not gonna be from Austin, they might be out of you know, Dallas or Chicago or la But sometimes for these international deals, especially if you’re like client, this is a first class and it’s crazy cheap with cash or points in miles, it might be worth it to fly to Dallas or to Chicago to position yourself to take advantage of one of these deals. So that’s kind of where, yeah these unicorn alerts kind of are like get people like on top of this as quickly as they can.
3 (25m 15s):
’cause we always say the hotter the deal, the shorter it lasts and some of these amazing deals, you know, last less sometimes like 30, 60 minutes. Oh you know, less than an hour kind of crazy stuff. Which can be a little bit of a rollercoaster of emotion but Well it’s part of the, it’s part of the Thrifty Traveler experience. Well I’m really glad you said what you said about, okay, it may not be from your home airport, but for this type of booking or experience it’s worth the flight. A lot of the stuff that’s coming in, I’m seeing it, I’m like, oh this looks so great and then Brittany’s saying, yeah but it’s not anywhere near us. We’d have to fly there. And I keep telling her like, yeah like maybe the vacation will then have like an extra day or two. ’cause now we’re traveling maybe domestically to get somewhere, but the experience is flying on business or first and that and with a particular airline too that’s known to have like premier business or first class experiences versus just a normal business or first for that matter.
3 (26m 14s):
You know, so I’m glad that you said that. I’m hoping that resonates with Brittany. So when we see those, let’s go to go and like yeah, we’ll buy our flight to that departure city. Yeah, and just to reiterate all the email alerts that you guys should be getting, you should be choosing your home airports. So you shouldn’t be getting an email alert unless your home airport or nearby airports are listed. Yeah. But some of those, the those the text message alerts, yeah, that’s gonna be for any really us and some Canadian airports. But yeah, you never know. I, I can’t predict what those unicorn alerts are gonna be. It just pops up and then we, we, we vet those deals and and we send them out.
1 (26m 55s):
I was gonna ask, what’s one of the best unicorn deals you’ve seen?
3 (26m 59s):
Yeah, so one that I, so I talked a little bit about getting high on our own supply. There was a, a year ago there was a, a unicorn alert that came out and it was a NA first class and and a lot of people out there probably don’t know what a NA is a a is one of the top tier airlines out of Japan. Lazy first class. Like we’re not talking business class. This is first class, first class, like we’re talking round ship tickets cost $15,000. So anyhow, there was a award availability opened up and if you have like any of these transferable currency credit cards you could transfer to Virgin America, which is basically uk.
3 (27m 38s):
I don’t want anybody to get too confused. Anyhow, you could book for 110,000 miles points, which is super cheap instead of spending 15 grand. So me and three of my friends, we went to Japan last month on that flight finally. And again I’m on a Minneapolis but the flight was outta San Francisco nonstop to Tokyo. But it was worth it for me to take advantage of a $15,000 flight, you know, to, to fly to the west coast to fly out of San Francisco. And I mean it was an amazing experience. There’s no shower on a NA but still pretty dang good. What is it like champagne? So I mean it’s like all the champagne.
3 (28m 19s):
Yeah, I was gonna say I think there’s only, you know, there’s like, there’s only like 10 people in first class. Most first class products only have like a very limited, sometimes like eight, sometimes you’ll be the only passenger in first class, you know, business class can have you know, 40, 20 to 40 passengers, which is life flat. But then first class is crazy. There aren’t that many actual like first class international products. But yeah, the Japanese carriers, Japan Airlines, a NA, some other great first class products Singapore, a lot of people have heard of Emirates. Emirates has a, a very large, they offer a lot of first class flights worldwide.
3 (28m 59s):
So yeah. But this is what the Premium service is all about is alerting people when these deals pop up and then showing you how to book. ’cause it can be complicated but you remove that complication and then people get the alert, they transfer their miles or maybe they’ve got the miles already in their account and they can book right away before the deal disappears. I mean that’s a secret. You gotta move quick on some of these crazy deals. I mean a lot of deals stick around for hours, sometimes days, but the hot, hot deals and they don’t last long, they’re gonna just get swiped right up, somebody’s gonna book it and that availability’s gonna be gone. So you need to be on it. Yeah, pull the trigger a little bit. Earlier you mentioned something about, you know, in the US and Canada talking about your guys’ service.
3 (29m 48s):
I had a question, I’m kind of glad that you had mentioned that and that is, is your service available to people outside of those areas and other countries? And if the subscription isn’t available, can anyone really benefit from it if they’re living in another country, just going to your website and looking at things? Yeah, so yeah, right now we’re just US and Canada we cover, yeah 200 over 200 US and Canadian Departure cities. I mean at some point I’m sure we will expand, you know, worldwide, not yet, we really wanna perfect our service. So yeah, if you’re in Europe, I’ll be honest with you, straightforward that yeah, you’re probably not gonna get a lot of benefit.
3 (30m 29s):
You’d probably just be frustrated all the deals that are departing not from your home airport. So yeah, until we expand, you know, to Europe or you know, Mexico or or anywhere else in the world, this service probably isn’t gonna make a lot of sense, especially with some of the, the, like the US is crazy with credit card travel rewards. Like that really isn’t true in, in almost any other countries in in, in the world. So we kind of have this unique ecosystem of, of signing up for credit cards, getting these signup bonuses where you don’t really see that anywhere other than the US
2 (31m 2s):
You’re hinting at, you know, wanting to perfect the system before expanding. And that’s commendable because there’s so much more out there that you could be doing and I’m sure you will at some point. Is there any kind of a preview you could give the listeners on what they can expect from like new features or your work in perfecting it in the next year?
3 (31m 25s):
Yeah, we’re, we’re offering a lot of new features and filters like in your online account, you know, we, we survey customers, you know, once a quarter all of our, our our subscribers and our free free customers as well. Just ask them, you know, what would you like to see? And we have a pretty good idea of what people wanna see. So yeah, slowly just adding those so you know, people can tailor, you know, their emails exactly to what they want. Like maybe somebody only wants to fly business or first class, you know, we have a filter for that. We’ve recently added that maybe somebody only wants to fly in in the economy cabin, they don’t want to fly, you know, obviously upfront or maybe they just want points and miles deals we’re, we’re doing a lot on the filter side, which might sound kind of boring, but great thing is, you know, everybody’s inboxes are just getting flooded with emails all the time and we wanna make sure that the, in the emails that are hitting your inbox are super relevant to exactly what you wanna do.
3 (32m 21s):
And I think that’s what we’re adding right now and really perfecting, I know one of the things that people ask a lot about is destination filters. Like I only want to go to Europe. So that’s something, you know, we’re considering in the future something that I’ve kind of not wanted to offer initially because when like if you sign for the service and you’re like I only want to go to Mexico, you’re gonna miss out on so much, so many other places you could go in the world or even in the United States. So we, we try to limit, you know, the ability to filter destinations just because we want to keep people’s minds open and really get like the full breadth of the Thrifty truffer experience. So yeah, we’re always trying to wait, you know, what people ask for, you know, what we’re gonna offer and I guess some other things, you know, probably an app at some point in the next couple of years, a phone app’s the next iteration, but it’s kind of a phone app’s a little bit of a beast from a business perspective rolling that out and having to maintain that et cetera.
3 (33m 19s):
2 (33m 19s):
3 (33m 20s):
Yeah, we’ll see,
2 (33m 21s):
You know, in the last year with the explosion of ai, my mind kind of naturally goes there. Could AI help amplify your ability to find and vet these deals? Is that, are you leaning into AI at all or considering how it could help the business?
3 (33m 40s):
Yeah, yeah we right away when chat GPT came out we created a itinerary builder. So you’re like, I wanna take a five day trip next May to Paris. You know, build out a, a great itinerary. So anyhow, we created that. The problem with AI at this current time is a lot of the information that like chat GT is using is older. So it’s not necessarily like exactly where we want it to be yet. So, you know, things that we’re looking at using AI for is yeah, at some point AI’s gonna be using live data and at that point, I mean it’s gonna be amazing and we’re for sure gonna be utilizing it to find flight deals, vet flight deals and, and so much more.
3 (34m 25s):
Some of the things that we’re currently using AI for and tinkering with is credit card recommendations or you know, everybody has a different wallet full of you know, credit card travel rewards or those people who do or you know, what they want to do with the points. You know, maybe, maybe it’s like you Kim you, you want to go live flat maybe to Europe or business class, like that’s a goal of yours. Like telling, telling our system these are your goals, these are the cards I have, I’ll, what’s the next card that I should open? And I would just, you know, we’d use artificial intelligence to, to come up with a solution. So that’s like the things that we’re like tinkering with and it’s, none of this is like live or anything. I think it might take some time for AI to get to where we need it to be, but there’s a lot of potential out, especially on the travel side.
2 (35m 10s):
Oh that’s so exciting. Just, I mean everything you’ve accomplished in the years since you launched and then with the addition of the artificial intelligence and what it can unlock, I can see the expansion. I mean three x that’s my vision for you all. I’m so, and I’ll be enjoying the features.
3 (35m 33s):
I know we don’t wanna be left in the dust, that’s for sure. So no we’re, we’re constantly coming up with the ideas, well we’re all gonna be enjoying those features and it’s just gonna revolutionize everything. But until that point comes still want to stress how great your guys’ site is and I really meant it when I said it earlier compared to others because you really give that kind of step by step guide and a lot of other useful info. But speaking of useful info, I have a question for you that I still sometimes have not been able to really crack to really perfect our point game for booking flights and that is this, a lot of times you’re sending out advertisement saying so many points on this and this airline for your business class or first class.
3 (36m 20s):
But when I go to that airline’s website, their website is set in a way that I can’t even try to book the flight with points without having a login. And even if I have a login as an example, if I don’t have any existing points, it won’t show me the availability of like yes this is how much it actually costs and points to book. So how do you guys figure that out? Somebody who wants to say for example, book that 80,000 points on Emirates business but doesn’t have any points in there. How do you find that to book that? Because Emirates I’ve noticed doesn’t have it. Singapore Airlines, I was recently flying Lu Danza and was trying to upgrade and try to transfer points but I can’t even see anything on points with Lu Danza.
3 (37m 5s):
So how do people find that and do that? Yeah, yeah so there’s a lot of different programs and some of them don’t all work the same, but a majority of programs, you know, points and miles programs. So let’s say, you know, Delta Sky Miles probably one of the biggest ones in the United States. You know, you can search as long as you have a Delta Sky Miles account you can’t actually book but you can search for availability. ’cause that’s the huge thing is before you transfer any miles or anything like that, you need to make sure that the availability exists. So most programs will allow you, as long as you’ve created a loyalty account, will allow you to at least search.
3 (37m 46s):
But yeah, you will not be able to actually hit the book button until those points are in that account. There are some outliers, but for the most part that is generally how it works. I will say it, I’ll be the first to say none of these websites make it really easy to book with your points and miles and I think we can probably all agree it’s, I think it’s by design. They don’t want you to be redeeming your points for a live flat seat. They don’t, they don’t spend as much money on it as they should to make this a really seamless process. So it can be frustrating. But yeah, we try to the best we can in our booking instructions be like, you know, step one, make sure you know you have a Singapore account, a loyalty account, you know step two, log in search and hit this filter and that filter and hopefully yeah, you should be able to get the results that you want.
3 (38m 42s):
One of the big things that sounds maybe dumb but is isn’t always obvious is it works so much better on a laptop or a desktop computer searching for especially points in miles, things on your phone. It can be really tough. And a lot of these websites don’t have as many features on a mobile device as they do on a laptop, desktop computer. And so we always say, you know, if you can, it’s gonna make your life so much easier. You know, booking really any kind of travel on a desktop or or laptop computer if you have one. Of course.
2 (39m 13s):
Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed that just getting frustrated on the non-mobile friendly website or the app that has removed a lot of the features I’m looking for.
3 (39m 24s):
Yeah, it could get, it’s so tough. I mean I get frustrated too it’s, I know the mobile phone’s always in front of you but isn’t always the easiest to use.
2 (39m 34s):
Yeah, it sounds like you have a lot of experience on both ends of it, of creating the deals for people and also maximizing deals for yourself. If someone’s listening right now and they haven’t played in this space yet, they want to, they might have points or maybe they’re trying to build them up, what’s just one solid piece of advice that you would give to someone new to this experience?
3 (39m 56s):
Yeah, great question. Kim we always say start slow. Like just, you know, if you’re looking for, you know, I mean the first thing is to just book like a cheap, yeah, you know, I call cash flight but that’s just not using points of miles, you know, putting on your, your debit or credit card, you know, finding a cheap flight and not to jump in and open up tons of credit cards or something crazy like that. ’cause I mean credit cards, credit card debt in the US is a huge problem and we don’t want people getting deep into debt. But you know, if you’re, if you’re confident you know that you can pay off your credit card every single month. We always say, you know, open up one, you know relatively, you know, low annual fee, you know, credit card like a, you know, chase Sapphire preferred card or a venture card from Capital One and just dip your toe in, you know, get the points, book ’em to maybe take a trip that you normally couldn’t afford and then kind of go from there.
3 (40m 48s):
I, you know, I’m a crazy person who has opened hundreds of credit cards, not over exaggerating over the past 15 years. That’s probably not the path you want to take, especially with some of the dangers and pitfalls with credit and things like that. But just take it slow man and yeah hopefully try to save on your next trip.
1 (41m 9s):
What is your favorite travel credit card that you use most often?
3 (41m 13s):
Some of my favorites, you know, something that’s super simple that even I use every single day is like the Capital One venture and the Venture X cards. You know, I use the Venture X personal card for a lot of everything. It’s got some great travel benefits, won’t go into that, but you earn two venture miles for every dollar spent. You don’t have to worry about all these different categories spend. I always know and my wife always knows she’s gonna get two x and that’s pretty good. It’s got a relatively low annual fee and I also have the Venture X business card on the Thrifty traveler business side. So, and all these points go into one pot and it’s really a simple, easy to use card and something that doesn’t get talked about a lot. Capital One has an amazing online interface that is so much better in my opinion.
3 (41m 59s):
You know, AM American Express is a great online interface, but Capital One they’ve got it really figured out and just ease of use across the entire, you know, system Capital One. I’ve just been really impressed and when Capital One’s not paying me to say this, that’s for sure. It’s just, it’s as someone who’s used like Citibank and like their IT systems are are horrible, easy use is really important to me.
1 (42m 25s):
Yeah. You know, I recently just probably a month or two ago I went through our credit cards and I like wrote down, okay, what categories do I get the most points out of? And I do have the Venture X card myself as well and it was like two times on everything. So it’s just easy to know like you can use this and get double the points than you would and some of the other categories. So I do like it as well. And it’s my first year with Venture X, but it’s been a smooth year so far and I’m, I look forward to continue using it.
3 (42m 53s):
Awesome. That’s great to hear. Yeah, it’s working out.
2 (42m 57s):
Nothing’s better than booking a an A flight with points except booking a flight with points when the points you need are cut in half because it’s a deal that you got from Thrifty Traveler.
3 (43m 11s):
That is the next level of thinking too. ’cause people are like, they’re like, I’m like, well yeah you save even more ’cause the the points are cheaper. And then they’re like, wait, what? Like, it’s like next level it’s like, yeah, you’re not only going to get to fly live flat, but it’s gonna cost half of what it normally would in the points. So if you’re stretching your points too, in addition to not spending cash. I mean Yeah, this is, I mean this is, this is the reason why I created Thrifty Traveler, you know, eight years ago is because this crazy value on the points and miles side of things. It’s, if you really utilize ’em, you know, efficiently, you can do some crazy stuff and it’s not impossible to to do.
3 (43m 53s):
It’s so funny that you were just kind of talking about this now ’cause when we were hinting on on it earlier saying people are running out of their PTO because they get so many like deals and doing this and that. I was gonna chime in and say though, but are you really like losing out on not getting paid because you’ve saved so much money on these trips that it kind of is a won then at that point too, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the hope. That’s the hope. Yeah. I I, I know I, because I, I remember what it was like coming outta college, just being completely broke and wanting to travel and having PTO but not being able to afford it and like if, if people are able to take more trips, you, you know, and still have money left on the table.
3 (44m 37s):
I mean that’s, that’s, that’s the dream for me. ’cause that was, that was what I was trying to do. And this is kind of like, that’s why Premium exists. It’s like this is like, this sort was I created for my own pain point was, you know, not being able to afford the trips that I wanted to go on. So yeah, I I, I know it’s helping people, but it’s, it’s also one of my hopes.
1 (44m 58s):
One thing that you mentioned was that you guys are trying not to do any of the filters to destinations because you want people to see what’s out there. And I think that’s really smart because we always say like, let the deal guide you and if you see a really good deal, like you’re gonna go to places you never really thought about before, but you’re gonna have probably a great time like the, the hotspot like Mexico, Europe, great. But when you see a, a trip to like Malta or some random island or something and it’s at a great flight, a price or deal, I think like that’s a really great way to expand like where you’re going in the world and just overall have like a great time.
1 (45m 40s):
And I am a big proponent of saying like, let the deal guide you and where you’re gonna go.
3 (45m 46s):
Yeah. We also say, let the cheap flight be your guide. So we have the same thought process. I love it. I mean this is like the tough thing that, you know, obviously we’re of the same mindset and obviously you guys are well traveled, but a lot of people that, you know, start the service, it’s kind of almost like a little bit of a learning process. ’cause somebody’s like, I just wanna go to Mexico cheap. And it’s like, we can do that for you, but we can also do all this. And then people get emails in their inbox and then they’re like, oh, oh, oh, okay. And then they’ll tell us later, wow, you’ve really changed how we travel, but we can’t like tell people when they start, you need to rethink the way you travel.
3 (46m 26s):
They really have to like experience it and then ultimately it’s like this light bulb and you’re like, okay. Wow. Yeah.
2 (46m 34s):
Aw. Well I hope that this interview with you today for everyone listening kind of opens their eyes a little bit more to that too. That they’ve heard us preach about it for four years now, but this really could unlock a whole new world for them. And, and I hope we inspire some people with it. And I love that Jared, you’re, you’re not only just so involved in the business still to this day, but I can feel your passion for it. We can see it, we can hear it. And it is that passion right there that with every email, with every new filter update it’s coming through for the people that you’re servicing. So it’s been my pleasure to talk to you today.
3 (47m 11s):
Yeah, thanks for having me. And I, I’m glad that passion is coming through in the emails. ’cause that is exactly what our team wants to hear.
2 (47m 19s):
Yeah. My last fan girl compliment that I will give you all is how you write your emails. I love it. They’re cheeky, they’re fun. There was one that came out recently about an airline that was detracting on some of the benefits from its points program and you all are calling them out, but you’re giving us the details and it’s actually a fun read too.
3 (47m 39s):
Yeah. We’re not, we’re not getting paid by any airlines or anything, so we give it to you guys straight. That’s one of the great benefits.
2 (47m 47s):
Is there anything else that you want to leave our listeners with that we haven’t already talked about today?
3 (47m 55s):
Yeah, just go to Thrifty traveler.com, check us out, sign up for, you know, our, our free version of our flight deals. And yeah, I hope you enjoy the ride
2 (48m 6s):
And we’ll link everything in the show notes, the website, all of the articles and guides and tools that you had mentioned. So it’s easy access for everyone.
3 (48m 15s):
Thanks for having me guys. Well thank you for being here, Jared.
2 (48m 18s):
Thank you so much Jared. Thank you Squatty so much for tuning into our episode this week. Keep the adventures going with us on all social medias at Travel, Squad, Podcast, and send us in your questions of the
3 (48m 29s):
Week. If you found the information in this episode to be useful or if you thought we were just playing funny, please be sure to share it with a friend that would enjoy it too. Please subscribe, rate and review our podcast and tune in every travel Tuesday for new episodes.
1 (48m 42s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode. We have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for you. Bye Squadies!