Mile Nerd’s epic frustration of newbies, but my views on top.

I do feel for poor Paul, who writes the Mile Nerd blog. He is famously laconic in his posts, but his latest one is unusually verbose and he vents his frustration with helping beginners.


Picture from Spiritual Healing Source

Of the time I spend talking about loyalty programmes, I reckon I spend around three-quarters persuading the uninformed or helping novices. I do feel a sense of pride, like any teacher would, when the light bulb switches on inside the student's head and they ‘get it'.

I distinctly remember chatting with one of the lecturers from my former university about his experiences teaching undergraduates. His belief was that you only bothered putting effort for the middle 80% of students. The top 10% would ace any exam without bothering to show up to classes, and the bottom 10% could study endlessly and get nowhere.

So back to Paul. He says the three qualities that a points hoarder must have are:

  1. Courage
  2. Not lazy
  3. Organised

I'll start with number 3 first. If you don't pay off your credit card bills, don't keep a good record of your journeys or points, then you will not succeed. In fact, it will cost you more money than you save.

Number 2…don't be lazy. Well, there's no excuses for laziness. I firmly believe those who put in the effort should  the ones who get rewarded. I still do get emails asking the most basic questions where a 2 second Google search can solve it, but I do like to show some patience. Getting into points and air miles is a very bewildering thing at first, and I also think a lot of posters on Flyertalk could tone down their unwillingness to help novices. That said, a lot of people could do better than to be asked to be spoon-fed every item of knowledge. I leave this point open for debate.

So we come to being courageous. I remember back in my previous job I was derided for my fascination with air miles. Granted it's a very unusual hobby by layman's standards. However, I see it as black and white as a hobby that saves money rather than spends it on expensive things like sports equipment or collectable items. No matter how much I stood my ground, my reasons for pursuing this hobby were never accepted by others, not even by close friends.

The turning/breaking point was when I did a mileage run from London to Los Angeles in one weekend for the American Airlines Platinum Challenge a few years ago. Against everyone's expectations I had decided to scale up my operations and committed a few hundred pounds to a journey to the other side of America. My defence was simple. I had done my maths and I had seen the value proposition of doing it. Who could argue against it? Well apparently everyone.

But there came a point where I simply said “I don't care what you think” to everyone else. That's as far as my courage went at that moment. In hindsight I should have said that much earlier as now I realise I cannot be bothered to argue against those who don't ‘get it' or show zero interest.

So rather than the frustrated tone of Paul's post, and calling it “SO. FREAKING. SIMPLE”, I want to put things differently. Being interested in points is one thing, but actively participating is another. It's not for everyone, for whatever reasons, but you will never know if it suits you unless you make a genuine effort.

A final word, if you're a beginner and have an appetite and motivation to learn, that's great…welcome aboard! The world could do with more people like you! I'm always here to answer questions or difficulties, but please don't be disappointed if I don't know the answer, if I point you to somewhere else to find the answer, or take a while to answer.


  1. Whinging about newbies is stupid IMO. If people don’t want to put the effort in, then they weren’t all that interested to begin with. If people want to learn, they will pursue it. Why get frustrated? Are people like Mile Nerd on some kind of mission to “teach” people? His comments make him appear petty and self-centered.

  2. this is an odd article. you actually agree with most of the points but have issue with the tone? i found it an extremely motivational message by mile nerd. heaven forbid a travel blogger show any actual emotion. it was also quite funny imo. to me it was an interesting read.

  3. i thought the tone was motivational and fun so was unsure how it was an issue worthy of this article. a fan of both blogs. keep up the good work.

  4. Good article. The other post was verbose and bombastic. Let people do what they want (if it’s legal) and don’t shout at or sneer at them. Finally, if you don’t want to help newbies on Flyertalk, then don’t.

  5. I wish I could have offered this comment on the Mile Nerd’s blog, but I don’t see a comments section, so I can’t. And since this particular can of worms was opened in this post, I’ll offer my thoughts here. If you feel that this is an inappropriate venue for this response, please feel free to delete. I’m totally cool with that.

    I found the entire post/rant to be dripping immaturity and elitism. Not only was it patronizing and patently offensive, but it was also chock full of untruths – especially regarding the effort and time spent attempting to learn the game.

    One of the reasons why we “newbies” ask so many questions is because the miles/points game is overwhelmingly complex. I’ve only been at it for a few months, and the comparatively minuscule amount of information that I’ve gained has only come through spending hours upon endless hours scouring blogs, message boards and twitter posts. Not for nothin’, but the necessary time spent in the beginning can easily be classified as a part time job rather than a nice little hobby that takes a mere 10 mins per day. And that’s just learning how to best acquire miles/points. Actually redeeming those for maximum benefit is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

    So, Mr. George Washington of the miles/point game, hop down off of the top of your high and mighty cherry tree, and try extending a helping hand to us newbie peasants who are feeling a little overwhelmed by it all – and please do so with a little more patience and a lot less snark. You were new to this game once too, remember? And I’ll bet my last 20,000 Starwood points that folks then displayed a lot more patience and generosity than you portrayed in your post. Besides, you’ve got those affiliate links to think about, you know? And we newbies are the ones who click on ’em…..cha ching.

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