Exciting News! The $4,500 Travel Sweepstakes Winner Is…

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We’re so grateful to the thousands of readers who entered our $4,500 travel sweepstakes!  Whether you’re a new follower or a longtime Million Mile Secrets loyalist, we really appreciate your support!

After receiving nearly 14,000 entries, we have a winner!

We Could Only Pick One Winner for This Contest, but We Hope You’ll Continue to Enter Our Weekly Miles, Points, and Gift Card Giveaways!

Now for the exciting news!  The winner of the huge $4,500 dream getaway is Million Mile Secrets reader Bianca!

Keep an eye on the Million Mile Secrets Facebook page for a video interview with Bianca coming up later!

We were so excited to learn Bianca and her husband have been following the blog since 2012.  They’re both big-time miles & points enthusiasts who’ve traveled to some AMAZING destinations using miles & points, including Chile, India, and Thailand!

Million Mile Secrets Reader Bianca Was #1 in Our $4,500 Giveaway! Here She Is Preparing to Hike the Cuernos in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile.

Bianca told us she thought our congratulations email was just another “free cruise” giveaway.  But thankfully her husband Geoff was there to reread the email and confirm she was, in fact, the WINNER!  Bianca said it was hard to keep in the excitement once she knew she could start planning a dream trip!

Here’s Bianca and Her Husband Geoff Hiking Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs!

Bianca was gracious enough to share some phenomenal travel photos!  And she answered a few questions we thought could help other readers looking for miles & points travel inspiration, including how she’s planning to use the $4,500 prize!

How long have you been involved in the miles & points hobby?

My husband discovered Million Mile Secrets in 2012, which he says led him down the proverbial rabbit hole.  For me, it was a bit more gradual.  But after we used Hilton points to book a free 5-night stay at the Conrad Bangkok, I got pretty excited about this hobby, too!

Can you share some of your favorite miles & points travel redemptions?

We got the most mileage out of earning 2 Chase Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses, which helped us get the Southwest Companion Pass.  With this amazing deal, we went to Denver 5 or 6 times, visited my family in Atlanta 6 or 7 times, and visited Chicago for the first time ever!

Our most luxurious award booking was probably using miles to fly Etihad Business Class to Coimbatore, India, which was one fancy flight!

Here’s Bianca Chilling on the Beach at the Park Hyatt Goa in India! Of Course, She Booked Using Points!

I am definitely a lover of nature and culture.  When the deal is good and it’s a destination we haven’t visited before (or didn’t get to see enough of), we just jump on it.  This strategy has allowed us to stay flexible and adventure to many unplanned places.

Do you have any tricks or tips for booking travel getaways when you’re not using miles & points?

We typically use Google Flights (and the Southwest website) to book most paid flights.  However, if we’re booking a great deal, we’ll typically book on Priceline so we have the flexibility to cancel for free for at least 24 hours (book first, think about it second!).

When we can, we book with my husband’s Amex Platinum card (The Platinum Card® from American Express) because it earns 5x AMEX Membership Rewards points for airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel.  And of course, we both follow Million Mile Secrets on Twitter so we can learn about great airfare deals!

Here’s an Amazing Shot of Bianca and Her Husband Geoff in Cimitirul Vesel (the Merry Cemetary) in Sapanta, Romania. They Got This Shot After Getting Married in Bianca’s Hometown of Sighet, Romania (Transylvania!)

Any advice you’d share with beginners looking to get started in the miles & points hobby?

Absolutely!  First, forget everything people tell you about credit cards ruining your credit score.  As long as you’re responsible with your spending and pay off your debts in full and on time, credit cards are GREAT for your credit score in the long-term!  And this is coming from someone who held off opening a credit card for many years.

Second, this hobby has gotten tougher, with certain banks cracking down on people trying to maximize their points earning.  So plan ahead.  If you currently have zero cards and want to dive into this hobby, start with Chase cards.  They’re probably the most restrictive and have very valuable cards.  Then move on from there.

And third, this is such a deep and exciting hobby with tons of ways to use rewards to save on travel!  Being diligent about researching award travel options can definitely pay off.  The opportunities are amazing!

Here’s Bianca Surveying the Valle de la Luna in Atacama, Chile!

Lastly, do you have travel plans for the $4,500 prize?

Initially, when I entered, my husband and I said we’d love to use the money to go back to New Zealand.  We stopped there for a few days in March after a vacation to Australia and were blown away by the beautiful scenery.

But once I learned I actually won, I thought to myself — joy and good fortune are for sharing with the people you love.  So my husband and I are thinking of using the money to book a trip to Alaska.  And we want to take my parents along for the adventure to see the Final Frontier in real life!  My parents will probably be retiring soon, so a family trip would also work as a perfect retirement present for them!

Congratulations to Million Mile Secrets reader Bianca on winning our $4,500 travel sweepstakes giveaway!  We’re so happy to hear you’re planning to use the prize to book a family getaway to Alaska! 

And a huge thank you to the thousands of Million Mile Secrets readers who entered the contest!  We encourage everyone to sign-up for our free daily newsletter so you don’t miss any of our other giveaways!