Eli “The Travel Guy” Facenda is a travel-loving entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas. Eli has visited 35 different countries over the last 3 year while growing two businesses and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs experience more freedom through leveraging credit. In 2021 alone, Eli has been a full-time nomad and has flown on nearly 50 flights for free, many of which have been first class. He has additionally gotten 40+ nights in hotels for free…equating to over $40,000 In free travel this year alone.
Listen to Eli and be a travelling entrepreneur as well!
[00:01 – 05:07] Opening Segment
- Let’s get to know Eli Facenda
- He shares his very first venture with entrepreneurship
[05:08 – 10:58] The Reality About Entrepreneurship
- How Eli saw freedom and opportunity in entrepreneurship
- The reality about pursuing entrepreneurship according to Eli
- Sports and military lessons we can apply to entrepreneurship
[10:59 – 20:46] How Business Credit Works
- How to leverage your business credit according to Eli
- Business owners are underutilizing business credits
- Here’s how to address this problem
- Eli weighs in between personal and business credits
[20:47 – 29:23] Using Your Credit Points Better
- The many different ways to use your credit points
- Want some Amazon refunds? Check out Getida
- Promo code: FTM400
- Eli shares some practical tips to systematize your spending
[29:24 – 35:58] The Best Credit Card For Entrepreneurs
- These are the cards that you can try now as suggested by Eli
- Choose the right card for you with these tips
- Benefits that entrepreneurs should look for in a card
[35:59 – 44:02] Cheap PPC in the Ecommerce Industry
- How Freedom Travel Systems supports entrepreneurs
- We talk about PPC in the ecommerce industry
- Know more about Eli in the Fire Round!
[44:03 – 46:30] Closing Segment
- Connect with Eli!
- Links below
- Final words
“To be able to endure that much failure…‘keep playing’ is a big part of what we all have to go through as business owners.” – Eli Facenda
“I have a vision, I’ll take the action. I’ll figure out the details later, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.” – Eli Facenda
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Eli Facenda 0:46
All sports do, I think because just there’s so many elements that are just so valuable to creating a team and building a business, but baseball specifically, because it’s such a high percentage of failure that you have to be able to endure to stick with the game. I mean, you know, it’s a cliche, but like you hit three out of 10, you know, you get, you know, you hit three out of 10, you hit 300, you’re going in the Hall of Fame, you’re a pro player. So to be able to endure that much failure and keep showing up each day and keep playing is a big part of what we all have to go through as business owners. And what’s gonna happen for most people they’re going to log in and they’re going to see that they have no business credit score at all, because they don’t have enough accounts reporting for DUNS and Bradstreet to deem that you’re a reliable, you know, borrower with these other businesses. So it takes a little bit of time to build that up. And it takes a few months typically of reporting and getting different accounts to report to the business credit bureau in order to get that score to show hey, this business has been reliable in the past. So they have a Venture Card and they just released a new high tier card called Venture X and it’s like, these banks are all competing with each other for share of wallet of like, you know, high spend individuals, good credit worthy individuals. Capital One’s kind of been out of the game of like having a high tier card and they just put one out. So just like a car company, you know, you see, like the Ford Bronco come out and compete with this car or whatever it is, the credit card companies are doing the same thing.
Welcome, everyone, to the firing the man podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you are capable of more, then join us. This show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your hosts, serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.
Welcome, everyone, to the firing the man podcast on today’s episode, we have the pleasure of interviewing Eli Facenda. Eli, the travel guy, is a travel loving entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas. Eli has visited 35 different countries over the last three years while growing two businesses and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs experience more freedom through leveraging credit. In 2021 alone, Eli has been a full time nomad and has flown on nearly 50 flights for free, many of which have been first class, he has additionally gotten 40 plus nights in hotels for free, equating to over $40,000 in free travel this year alone. Incredible. Welcome to the show, Eli. First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself and your path to becoming an entrepreneur.
Eli Facenda 3:15
Awesome. Yeah, David, thank you for having me, and Ken you as well, and really excited to be here and share my story. And if I take it back, my first kind of foray in entrepreneurship really started at a young age. I remember like when I was a kid growing up, I had some of these kind of insights and ideas of like, it’d be cool to create that or to want to do this right. And so I kind of had that natural bug in me, at the time I didn’t even know what the word entrepreneur meant it was more like inventor was the phrase that we used for like coming up with ideas, but that was always there. And then years later, when I was in college, I actually had the opportunity to join this international sports tour company, which I now still own and operate with business partners today. And so I was really captivated by this idea because I love the people that were building it and the opportunity to travel that it provided and all that. But really what drew me in was this idea of freedom and being able to really build something and get my hands on something and have this kind of big vision of something and go and really start to create, and so it was kind of the creative impulse in me that really led me to entrepreneurship and got me really excited. Also as a former athlete, I love the competitive side, the team building side so it brought together all these different facets and when I had this opportunity coming right out of school to jump in with this company at a really early stage or go work you know, kind of a nine to five go into finance or down that path, there was like a clear, you know, let’s go the entrepreneurship ride and yeah, have some fun. So that’s what first got me into it.
Awesome. One follow up question I have, your first venture was it a lemonade stand? Was it were you mowing lawns? What was your your first venture?
Eli Facenda 4:46
The first one where I got paid was mowing lawns. The first one I tried was actually taking a bunch of like flowers and random spices from the cabinet and mixing with water and trying to sell that to my neighbors as like perfume and cologne. So, I thought it was genius. I was like, I don’t know why they wouldn’t want to buy this. I got, I think I got like $1 or 2 out of it. That was my first attempt at like, let’s go sell something.
Yeah, very cool. So Eli, a lot of times, you know, so like David and I, we did the traditional journey where we went in worked in corporate America, and then we kind of got fed up and like, there’s more to this. And so we kind of pivoted out. So your journey is kind of, you know, you had a choice, you’re like, do I want to go into corporate America? Or do I want to, you know, travel the road unknown? And so you chose that road unknown. So, can you discuss like, as you’re making that decision, if you look back on it, like, what were you thinking? And did you have fears? And do you have any regrets?
Eli Facenda 5:39
Yeah, yeah, great question. And so take me back to kind of my mindset during that time, it really started when I was studying abroad in Barcelona. My two goals going to college, one was to play division one baseball, and one was to study abroad was able to do both of those. But the abroad experience had such a profound impact on me just this like idea of seeing the world and traveling and kind of have this freedom over there. I really loved it. And after that actually I had an internship in like, you know, kind of traditional, like sales internship, I’m in a cubicle for 40 hours a week, just like putting numbers into spreadsheets, and I like hated my life. And that contrast, just made it super clear, like, I want more of this, I want less of this. And so as things kind of unfolded, I was looking at jobs and opportunities. And as I mentioned, this one, you know, came around where it was actually my former high school baseball coach was starting this sports tour company, where we take sports teams overseas to go compete and have vacations and all this stuff. And so, I heard about this opportunity and I was like, that feels like a lot more freedom. And just like opportunity, and all this stuff. And the idea of working in kind of like a nine to five, putting on a suit and tie and going in having like a, you know, kind of traditional office environment boss, I was just like, so turned off by it. I was like, I will do anything not to do that. Plus, you know, this was a great opportunity, something I actually cared about, so it really was kind of a dream opportunity. So honestly, I didn’t I probably didn’t have enough fears going into it. Because I was like, immediately, like I’m in, let’s go, let’s do this. And, you know, I was talking to my parents and like, well, what about this? And what about this? What about this, and I was like, I’ll figure it out. So I think that kind of just speaks to a lot of us as entrepreneurs, that impulse to be like, you know what, I have a vision, I’ll take the action, I’ll figure out the details later, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. But at that point, it was kind of the excitement of this like freedom oriented lifestyle, that really was the main thing occupying my headspace at the time.
Very nice. Can we dive into your path within that company, and, just for the audience, we were having a little chat before the podcast about entrepreneurship versus intrapreneurship. And we were just starting to get into it and I said, pause. We gotta, this is good stuff, we got to save it for the podcast. And so can you talk about your journey within that company?
Eli Facenda 7:36
Yeah, totally. And I was super fortunate, because when I started out at the company, you know, the owners who are now my partners were really supportive of me, and basically giving me a lot of freedom and flexibility. So I kind of came into this role where I was gonna grow business development, sales, and start to handle some the operations and we’re a travel company so I was even doing the travel booking. But my mindset, and I had read a book called linchpin by Seth Godin was basically like, I want to get equity in this thing, they didn’t really know that yet. And I was just like, that’s my goal. That’s my mission right now. And so I was trying to take on everything that I could to make myself irreplaceable, basically, just to contribute as much value as I can. And that’s actually how I got into the whole credit and travel hacking thing too, because I was like, well, we’re traveling a lot, we’re spending a lot on travel, maybe I can save the company some money through this travel hacking thing. So that was kind of my mindset at the time. In retrospect, I think it was actually a really, really good path, that it gets overlooked a lot. So many people have this trendy idea of like, I want to be an entrepreneur, especially if you’re young, I want to be an entrepreneur, I want to be my own boss, I want to have freedom, which is great, but you don’t really have a lot of breathing room to mess up, especially if you’re young and you don’t have the financing or the background, the skills and it takes a little bit time to figure out some of these entrepreneurial skills, systems, operations, management, communication, sales, finance, all this stuff. And so for me, I got to kind of dabble with that stuff without it being entirely just like month to month living and breathing on what I produced that month, because we were building the business and there were some things already established. So it was a really, really powerful beginning and then through there as I kind of just built you know, the company with these guys and started to create more value there, you know, came around a time when we start talking about equity and, you know, we agreed that we’d make great partners and so I got to become an equity partner in that and then we start hiring people underneath me to really start to take off some of these key roles within the company and within the business and move more from like a employee into manager and more into like an ownership type role now, so we all you know, wear multiple hats still as most do with small business, but that was the journey but the skill sets I got to learn through that process I mean, just unbeatable and super grateful to be able to have had that.
Yeah, that’s awesome. You know, I was just thinking, Eli, you mentioned earlier you had two goals going into college one was to study abroad one was to play D one baseball and yeah, that there must be a, you’re the second guest we’ve had on that was an elite D one baseball player. So I’m like, there’s got to be something there competitiveness, like, you know, going after it and so that’s really cool that’s a that’s a huge achievement to play sports at that level. So that’s awesome. Yeah, I know I took a left turn there. Sorry.
Eli Facenda 10:00
No, I appreciate that. I think you’re right. And it does play into that entrepreneurship perspective too. Specifically, all sports do, I think, because just there’s so many elements that are just so valuable to creating a team and building a business, but baseball specifically, because it’s such a high percentage of failure that you have to be able to endure to stick with the game. I mean, you know, it’s cliche, but like, you hit three out of 10, you know, you get, yeah, you hit three out of 10, you hit 300, you’re going in the Hall of Fame, you’re a pro player. So to be able to endure that much failure and keep showing up each day keep playing is a big part of what we all have to go through as business owners.
Yeah, definitely agree. David, go ahead.
Yeah, I’m itching to jump in here. I couldn’t agree with you guys more on the athletes, I think there’s something that you pick up in sports, that just teaches discipline. Two others I would add to that, military, I think people that have been through the military, it just, and Ken, you’re an example, you’re a veteran, I’ve just had wonderful experiences working with people from the military. And the last one, and we talked about this a little bit at the beginning of the episode, but children with entrepreneurial ventures, I’ll tell you, this is hard to execute, but if you could go around and find all 12 year old and unders that are mowing lawns, and invest in an index fund of their future ventures, like there is something about starting young, where that seed is planted that just seems to lead to more entrepreneurial ventures later in life. And so anyway, I continued on that left turn, but I’m glad we did.
Yeah, for sure. So let’s make another pivot. Let’s get into some good stuff, man. So travel hacks, business credit. So where do we want to start? Can you share with the audience Eli, like how to leverage business credit?
Eli Facenda 11:39
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s important to zoom out and first, let’s get clear on what business credit is, how it can be used and how it varies from personal credit, because it’s a very vague term for a lot of people, they don’t truly understand what business credit even means. So essentially, when you’re getting credit, you know, you’re going to a bank, you’re asking for borrow, it’s going to go under, right, your EIN or your social, so it’s going under a tax ID. So in the eyes of the IRS, you know, they’re separate legal entities. So business credit as a concept really means just getting credit or borrowing underneath your business. Now, when you are a small business owner, you have to personally guarantee all the debt on your business regardless, because you’re still high risk to the bank, right, and their goal is to find the least risky borrowers and lend to them so they make money, but do that in a way where they’re still protected. So they’re still gonna require that personal guarantee. So even if you’re getting credit under a business, you’re still signing that, if you can’t repay it, you know, up until your business is pretty large venture and you have really established history, you’re going to still be personally signing for that. So, that’s number one to understand. It’s not like you can just get loans or get credit cards and write them off and never pay them and like they just disappear into the abyss, doesn’t work like that, right? So business credit is basically again, that concept of getting access to capital underneath of your business. Now, the benefit of it is that it doesn’t report to your personal credit report. So on your personal credit report, there’s five factors, you have payment history, you have utilization, you have average age, you have credit mix, and you have new credit. So those are all weighted from highest to least right there. And what happens is, if you get business credit, let’s say you get a business credit card, and it has a $20,000 limit, and you max that thing out, right, no impact on your personal credit, because it’s not showing up in your personal credit report. Now, if you do that with a personal card, your utilization, that second factor of credit, would skyrocket and your score would plummet, which would mean that you’re handcuffed from basically being able to get lending again. Because again, regardless of if you’re applying under your own name, or under the business, they’re checking your personal credit too because you’re the guarantor. So, using business credit allows you to basically get funding, get a little bit of a runway, get access to capital that you can then use to really invest in the business, invest in yourself or whatever it’s going to be and just be a little bit more strategic about it. Now there’s a lot we could go down the rabbit hole with within that, but that’s kind of how business credit works as a concept and how it can be used. And then there is a thing called a business credit score, which is different from your personal credit score and it has a different way that’s built, how it’s created, and why you’d even want to go leverage that. So that’s another topic as well. But those are kind of the fundamentals. But really, the whole goal here is get access to more money, ideally, at 0% interest rates, have no impact on your personal credit, you don’t have to go out and get a traditional loan, you don’t have to use your own cash necessarily to invest in business, you don’t use your own personal credit, potentially wreck your credit. Yeah, and you don’t have to go give up equity to go find a partner to bring in money. So it allows you to just start and scale faster. And so that’s kind of the overarching concept.
So when I think of, so if business credit is an umbrella, I would put underneath that umbrella, credit cards, business lines of credit, like a longer term loan, like an SBA loan.
Eli Facenda 14:38
What am I missing? Like, are there any other instruments that would properly fit under this umbrella?
Eli Facenda 14:44
Those are really be the three. Yeah, those would really be the three particularly business line of credit and business credit cards would really be the main two.
Okay, great. So anyway, just in your experience, where would you say a lot of small business owners are under utilizing business credit?
Eli Facenda 15:00
Yeah, so well, there’s quite a few ways that can kind of go awry here. So first off, number one no no, is using personal credit cards for business expenses. Number one for the reason I mentioned with utilization, but number two taxes, you know bookkeeping becomes a mess. And number three, the banks actually don’t like it. So if you start, you know you’re running an e commerce store, you start spending $100,000 on a personal Chase Card, the banks going to be like, what the heck is going on? Like this is not normal consumer behavior, right? So that’s number one. Number two is just not understanding how credit works, and how getting access to capital can really benefit you. So it’s important to sit down and think about, okay, what would happen if I did have 50 75,000 $100,000 at zero percentage for 12 months? If I already have something that’s working, what would happen if I had more fuel to pour on this fire? Like, what would that create in running the ROI and running and understanding that, and really understanding, you know, the risks associated too because again, that debt doesn’t just disappear, but it won’t have that personal impact. So I would say there’s, again, the idea of using personal cards for business expenses, bad. And then not understanding the broader spectrum of how credit works, and how this can create leverage for you is probably the biggest thing, because most people just don’t understand it. And so that’s a big piece. And I would also add into that, when I was speaking to the point of leveraging credit, it may not just be getting access to capital, but like, depending on the type of model that you have, you might just need credit line, right? So it might not be like you’re trying to use the capital, invest in the company, and build your team or something like that. But it might just be like you’re spending too much and you keep hitting limits, and you can’t grow because your credit lines are too small. So those are the biggest things.
Okay, so one thing you touched on a little bit earlier, Eli, was there’s like a business credit rating. So how would somebody go and and check that? Is there like a website? Or is there the standard like FICO, or any of that? Or is it, can you explain that?
Eli Facenda 16:44
Yeah, yeah, sure. And it gets a little bit tricky, because people confuse again, this idea of business credit and personal credit, so let’s explain the differences of how the scores work. So personal credit, is really based on your borrowing relationship with financial institutions, okay, banks, or lender, you know, you’re getting an auto loan, a mortgage, whatever it is. And so, you know, there’s those five factors, and that’s how the score is created. Now, for business credit, it doesn’t work like that. It’s really based on what they call vendor credit, really vendor relationships. So they don’t, if you get a business credit card, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna show up on your business credit report. Right? It actually in most cases doesn’t, what does show up is if you get like a net 30 account, which means you have terms between you and a company like Home Depot or a gas, you know, depending on what type of business you’re in, you know, gas card or something like that, you get basically get the capital, you can make the purchases, even like office supplies, there’s online distributors for that, and stuff like that. So you’ll get the net 30 terms, and it’s basically how on time you are those payments over time. So that’s really what creates the score and builds it into a higher category. And there’s a few different business credit scores, but the main one to know about is your DUNS and Bradstreet score, which is really called a Paydex score. And when you get into looking at the different credit scores, the best place to check is really www.nav.com. That’s just nav.com. And what’s gonna happen for most people, they’re gonna log in, and they’re gonna see that they have no business credit score at all, because they don’t have enough accounts reporting for DUNS and Bradstreet to deem that you’re a reliable, you know, borrower with these other businesses. So it takes a little bit of time to build that up. And it takes a few months, typically, of reporting and getting different accounts to report to the business credit bureau in order to get that score to show hey, this business has been reliable in the past.
Okay, and I think that’s a lot of really, really good information that honestly, I’d never heard of a business credit score before getting into this. So now, you know, if I look at my own business, I have a Cabela’s credit card, because I like to go to Cabela’s. And I have a Southwest credit card, because I fly southwest out of St. Louis a lot. I would say my like credit card acumen, I’d probably be like JV in high school. And you know, when I look at 40 free nights in a hotel, over $40,000 in free travel in 2021, I would place you in the majors. And so what are some things that you’re doing to be that professional level utilizing capital? How are you doing it at a professional level, and what are some, you know, how can I get from JV to high school, maybe even to college ball?
Eli Facenda 19:07
I appreciate that analogy. That’s a great analogy. So what I can do is break it into really the five kind of steps that you really want to master if you’re thinking about, how do I start to travel hack and leverage, really credit for travel, and I can break that down. But the overall concept of what we’re doing is we’re taking our everyday personal business expenses, we’re being more strategic about the cards we use, you know, which points we’re earning all this stuff, and turning them into these points that we can then use and redeem for free travel. Now, most people don’t really know that this is like that possible or they kind of understand like, what’s the difference between that and a cashback card or getting you know, points at a store like kinda like you’re doing Cabela’s, right? And so, that’s kind of the route that most people go. But once you understand like, wow, what becomes possible if you do this, right, it’s a total game changer. And the reason that’s even important is because if you think about the core drivers, the core reasons that most entrepreneurs are getting into business, you know, there’s often two main ones that keep coming up. It’s impact, they want to have that impact and kind of legacy, and they want to have freedom, they’re just tired, you know, the name of the show is firing the boss. So it’s that idea of like, you want to be your own boss, you want to have freedom, you want to do what you want to do when you want to do it, all that stuff. And so, being able to travel and not have to pay for it, it just removes a lot of the friction of like having that freedom oriented lifestyle, where you can say, hey, the family will go on this trip tomorrow, because I’m covered, I don’t have to even think about like the cost, right. So it just makes it a little bit easier. So the five steps are, and I’ll cover them, we can kind of drill into a few of these. But first off, you need to optimize your personal credit profile. What that really means is you want your score over 700, ideally over 720 to get approvals for rewards cards, because again, these are lucrative cards, but banks are looking at who is most likely to pay us back. And that’s why this exists because they want to incentivize that person to come build relationships. That’s why these points and these programs exist. So you want to optimize your personal credit. And then, number two is you want to start earning the right points. So not all points are created equal. And like you said, you have the Cabela’s thing, you have the southwest card, a lot of people are earning cashback or they might get like discover points. And the analogy that I want to point here, point to here is, is really think of it this way. Have you guys been to like Mexico before? So you know, pesos and dollars, not the same, right? If someone came up to you and said, do you want 110 Mexican Pesos or 100 US dollars? You’d be like, yeah, I’ll take the US dollars thank you, like it’s a pretty easy trade. The same thing works in points, right. And so what happens is most people see like, well, this one has 100,000 signup bonus, or this one has this many points, and this one only has 80,000. So I’ll take the higher number, but they don’t realize that the 80,000 points you were gonna earn is worth like three times as much because the value is higher. So you want to know which points to earn, and you want to start earning the right points. And so this is one of the biggest difference makers, when you’re talking about like the JV versus getting into the big leagues, so to speak, is you got to set yourself up to win by earning the right points, because that will impact how you can then use them. Okay, so that’s the the first two steps, third step we maximize how much you’re earning. So this is going to be through everyday expenses, and then also bonuses from cards. So depending on how much you want to into this, you can open different cards and get signup bonuses, there’s ways to downgrade them so you don’t pay the fee, there’s ways to systemize all of that it’s a whole other piece of the conversation. But, earning those right points and getting the maximum amount per dollar spent is a huge piece of it so that you just rack up way more points than you normally would just if you’re kind of doing this, you know aimlessly. Fourth step is redeem them effectively. So, going back to that second step where you talk about not all points are created equal, there’s a different value in each point. And then that value is really determined based on how effectively you use them. So there’s different ways to use points, but if you get points at like Cabela’s, or with certain banks and stuff like that, you know, it’s a fixed value, meaning like each point is worth one cent. So basically, you’re getting 1% back on your purchase. But if you have a point that you could turn into, you know, a first class flight, and that flight might cost you $4,000, well, instead of that point being worth one cent, it might be worth seven cents, you know, if you use it really well or a more realistic exam would be like three cents. So what that really means is 300% more value, so you’re just stretching your miles, your points much further, right. And then the fifth step of this is have a system because, if you don’t systemize it you know, especially as an entrepreneur, your mind should not be focused on this as a part time job, you should have this systemized, automated, as little time as possible to be really spent learning this stuff and dealing with it and thinking about payments. So you want to handle all that so that you can continue to repeat the process. Otherwise, you basically hit a wall where I talked a lot of people like this just got too chaotic for me because I just didn’t have a system. So those are the real master steps to go from JV player to in the big leagues, and happy to dive into any of those specifically, but that’s kind of the overarching process you want to go through.
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No, that’s great. I like it. It’s systematized. I understand it. So really cool. A couple of follow on questions I have for me personally, I use chase inc business preferred. And so I earn, I use the points on that and then I’ll use them for whatever but I try to run everything through that. Now, I guess the complexity comes into and maybe this is where your system is, is like when you have multiple businesses or when your business is at a point where it maxes the points on that specific card. So can you go into like how you know, do you do multiple cards? Do you system, how do you work around that?
Eli Facenda 25:04
Sure, yeah. So if you have multiple entities, I would definitely suggest getting different cards for each entity for sure. Just again, it’s gonna keep everything simpler from tax and accounting perspective. Plus, again, each card you open, assuming that it’s a good rewards card is gonna have a bonus. So it’s basically going to say you have 90 days to spend $10,000 and we’ll give you 100,000 points, right, which if you use those 100,000 points, well, maybe two cents a point, that means you spend the money you’re already going to spend and you get $2,000. That’s basically what it means. So it, when redeemed for travel, right. And so that’s one of the ideas around different entities, that’s definitely how I would handle it. And then from the perspective of maxing out the cards, you’re never really going to max out just the ability to earn points on a certain card. But what you will max out sometimes is what they call category bonuses. So the chase inc preferred, for example, we’ll say 3x, you get three points per dollar spent on adspend. But they only allow you to spend up to $150,000 a year on that category, and to get the bonus points. So after you know, on your 151st $1,000, it’ll go down to one point earned. So you have that kind of buffer. For most people, that’s not really a limit they’re running into too much. But depending on the size of your business, it could be and the workaround for that is potentially get multiple of those cards, you get another card that has a higher bonus for that category, as well. So I don’t know if that totally answers the question for you. But happy to dive in more if you need further clarification on that, too.
Yeah, it sounds good. It sounds like multiple cards, and then kind of overlap them within the, you know, as they peak out or different entities. So that’s good. David, go ahead.
Yeah, sorry. You’ve talked a lot about systematizing it and I was, like when I first got out of college, I was running the US Bank cash plus and chase freedom, and those had rotating categories every three months. And so I had a little post it in my wallet. And when I went and got gas, just a little reminder, like oh, cash plus, you get 3% back on gas. And so however, the more cards you add, the more exhausting of a process that can be, or you forget to update your post it or whatever. So what type of tools are you using to systematize your spending?
Eli Facenda 27:06
Yeah, great question. And the first things first on this I want to address is because when you start to hear about this, it’s like, wow, it seems overwhelming it can seem like a lot. Think of the 80 20 rule the entire way, there’s definitely a law of diminishing returns for every action that you start to do just to earn an extra point. And then compare that to like, what is my time really best spent doing? Right? So I wouldn’t suggest everyone just like go crazy on all this. But you want to implement some strategies here to take advantage of this kind of free opportunity. So, but some of the systems to your point, there are apps now that basically automate that. So you go to a gas station, you type in gas, or whatever the merchant and it’ll be like, these cards, these cards, these cards with bonus cards, then that’s one of the ways that you can start to do that if you’re looking at like spending the right card at the right place. But the way that I do it is I have over 25 different credit cards, and I have a whole system to it, where it’s all automated, you know, I hardly pay fees on most of those. And what I do though, is I only really use three to four, maybe on a consistent daily basis. And so I know, okay, am I gonna miss on one point per dollar spent on my restaurant purchase, you know, one day or on buying something from an office supply store one day, sure. But at the end of day, that’s like losing 15 cents, I really don’t care, I’d rather not have to deal with the headspace of switching cards all the time. So you want to have a couple basic ones that are your everyday cards for personal and then your everyday cards for business. And that’s the best way to do it. And with the rest of the cards, if you like had a bonus, for example, and you’re not using the card anymore, what you really want to do is just, you actually want to do this to help build your personal credit score, is you would just put one payment per month on there, Netflix, Hulu, whatever subscription you have, and then put auto pay on because now what’s happening if it’s a personal card, each month, it’s adding an on time payment to your report. And now your payment history profile gets bigger and stronger, and you become a more credible borrower. So that’s kind of how I run the system. I take most of the cards after the bonus, automate them, automate the payments, all that stuff, and then I have two or three cards I’m using on an everyday basis. And that’s how you keep it simple.
If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your top three? Like, what are your top three favorite cards? And a follow up question to that is how often does that change? Does your top three cuz like Chase Freedom I got honey dicked by Chase Freedom it was 5% back on gas for three months, and then it just disappeared.
Eli Facenda 29:19
So like, so what’s your top three? And like, how often are you making adjustments?
Eli Facenda 29:24
Yeah, great question. So top three, there’s actually a brand new card out right now the Capital One Venture X. I don’t personally have it yet, because of my credit, overall strategy with the different bank relationships and how that all plays into this. But that’s actually probably one of my new favorite cards I’m suggesting for people on the personal side, it earns two points on every dollar spent, which is higher than average. It has a really good bonus. It has some really good credits. And so it’s one of these cards were just by holding it, even if you took the points aspect out, you should profit from the credits they give you and that should be more than the annual fee. Right? So that’s one that I would recommend. The second is the Chase Sapphire reserve. I do have this and the reason I like this one is because if you rack up a lot of Chase points, and you want a really easy and effective way to redeem them, you can redeem them through their travel portal, which is basically like login to chase, you know, travel Chase ultimate rewards. And it will look kind of like Expedia like a travel online travel agent site. And when you have this card, you get, instead of just getting one cent per point, you get a minimum of 1.5 cents per point on any travel that you book. So that’s a really good card there and it also earns a lot of points, it has, you know, lounge access, and all these other perks and amenities. So that’s my second favorite. And then my third favorite would be the AMEX gold cards, both personal and business. So it’s kind of technically four cards. But these are really good because they’re really high for every day, or they’re really high in certain bonus categories that people spend a lot on, dining, gas, groceries. And the cool thing about the gold card, it’s similar to the platinum specifically for E commerce business owners is it’s a charge card, not a credit card. So the difference there is that there’s no preset spending limit where you’re not like issued a credit line. So, what it means is you have to pay that back, you know, you have to pay it in full each month, you can’t carry balances, but there’s no limit. So if you have a store that’s scaling like crazy, and you know you’re going to have the cash at the end of month, then going to a charge card would make a lot of sense, because it’s not going to constrain you with that limit, like a you know, a traditional credit card would.
Nice. What was the first one on that one, Eli? I was writing them down sorry, I didn’t catch the first one.
Eli Facenda 31:22
Yeah, no worries. The Capital One Venture x. So they had, they have a Venture Card, and they just released a new hydroshare card called Venture X. And it’s like, these banks are all competing with each other for share of wallet of like, you know, high spend individuals, good credit worthy individuals. Capital One’s kind of been out of the game of like having a high tier card and they just put one out. So just like a car company, you know, you see, like the Ford Bronco come out and compete with this car, or whatever it is credit card companies are doing the same thing.
Nice. Yeah, awesome. I was gonna make a comment on the Ford Bronco, but I’m gonna leave it alone. The, so if somebody is listening to the show, and you know, they’re new in business, maybe they just started this year, and they’re starting to ramp up. Do you recommend going and getting one of these cards? Do you, how do you recommend them starting to fold in this kind of strategy from day one?
Eli Facenda 32:11
Yeah, so I want to do a little disclaimer because it does depend so much on, you know, how much are you spending? What kind of expenses do you have? What kind of travel do you potentially want to do, all that stuff. So it’s a little bit of like a prescription without diagnosis would be malpractice type deal. But I would say that overall, the AMEX gold is a great option for most people on the business side. And Chase Sapphire reserve is going to be a great option for the personal side. Now those do have higher fees. So you just want to look at like, okay, what are the benefits and credits for this? Okay, am I gonna use that credit, am I gonna use that credit and that credit? And is it worth it? Like, an example, the AMEX gold personal card, it’s a $250 annual fee. But it gives you $10 a month in Grubhub or a couple other restaurants. And then $10 a month in Uber. So that’s $20 a month times 12 months. So $240 in credits, the fee is 250. So really the the actual net effect fee is $10. And there’s a couple other perks that basically allow you to profit just from holding the card without even the points. So you want to look through those types of things and figure out like, is this the right card for me? So that’s really how I would be thinking about it. And again, layer in what type of travel do you want to do? Are you near a specific airline hub that makes sense for you? Is there a specific hotel brand that you’d like to stay with, all that stuff.
Okay, yeah, fair enough. David, sorry, go ahead.
So there are, I was getting a rental car the other day, and I heard the person next to me say, Oh, you don’t need insurance, your credit card company, just that’s one of the benefits. And I had no idea. And I don’t remember what kind of card they had. But it’s my understanding that there’s a lot of these, you know, aside from cash back or points, a lot of these perks that some people may have a card and never even know about. And so what are some other benefits that you should be considering or looking at when selecting a card?
Eli Facenda 33:54
That’s a great question. And there’s some really nuanced ones I would consider that a pretty nuanced one, where you can basically, you know, waive the collision damage waiver and just say that my cards gonna cover that’s kind of a nuance one. Something like cell phone protection is another one. Some banks are really good with that some aren’t. So those are definitely factors but one of the, a couple of the main ones I would say lounge access if you travel a decent amount is amazing. I mean, getting a, being able to go before your flight, have you know, comfortable seating, good Wi Fi, free drinks, free food also like other people, depending if you’re a business owner and you like to network, great opportunity to do that, because it’s kind of that oftentimes is the type of other person that’s in that room. So that’s a big one that comes free with a lot of credit cards. Global Entry and TSA PreCheck for me just being in this the way that I am when I see people going through the normal security line, I’m just like, what are you doing like it’s covered you know, basically so a lot of cards will cover that you basically buy you go do like the Global Entry interview, you put that charge on the card and it’ll be a statement credit. So you get you know, you pay like whatever it is 90 bucks, they reimburse you, you get that for five years. So those are a couple of the big ones. And then I would look at as well just like the type of business owner you because sometimes some of these business cards will have really good credits, for example, like the AMEX business platinum, will give you credits at like Dell, for example, and different office supply stores or have all these kind of smaller ones. So there’s some that are definitely more, they really have a stronger allure for a certain types of spender. Like, they’ll give you like a Saks Fifth Avenue credit, or one two Equinox gyms, like those are pretty, you know, high end type merchants. So it just depends a little bit on like, what type of stuff you’re spending on. But I would say if you want to look at like the big ones, lounge access, TSA PreCheck are definitely some of the biggest ones. And then again, there’s the small ones like rental car insurance and cell phone protection and stuff like that.
Yeah, that’s pretty incredible. I’ve never heard of most of that stuff. So yeah, that’s, that’s pretty awesome. So Eli, definitely an expert in this space, more information than than I’ve ever heard. Can we pivot a little bit and share with us freedom travel systems?
Eli Facenda 35:58
Yeah, absolutely. So freedom travel systems is a consulting program that I run. And really, what we’re doing is we’re working specifically with entrepreneurs that are in this idea of I want to grow my business, I want to work a little smarter, maybe not as hard. And I want this like to compound into more freedom, you know, more tangible things without having to just make more money. And so what we do is we put together custom strategies based on all the things we’re talking about, okay, what type of travel experiences would you like? Is it first class? Is it international? Is it domestic? Is it five star hotels? Is it all inclusives? Is it cruises? What is it okay, what type of expenses do you have? So we’re putting together these custom strategies based around your specific lifestyle, business, goals, all that stuff, right. And so we optimize all that, we’ll set up a lot of rewards accounts that are necessary to really to play in this game, set up the system so that you don’t have to think about this stuff. And really, it just gives you the opportunity to tap into all that’s available without having to go down the rabbit hole of learning it because when I started out, that was the biggest thing is I was reading every, you know, blog, Credit Card website, watching YouTube videos, eventually taking courses. And it just took me a long time, because I was going the slow route. Eventually hired, you know, a couple coaches in different areas. And it just turned into, you know, it just really shrunk the timeline. And so that’s what I help people do is just basically, you know, get access to more experiences a lot faster, and really get access to the capital they want to be able to grow too, so. Since both aspects of that, you know, are really the credit, we’re looking at the whole picture and really creating this custom strategy based on those goals.
Cool. That’s awesome. Yeah, if you’re listening to the show, and you know, you’re at the level where you want to be more efficient and utilize the services, yeah, definitely we’ll have in the show notes, all the links to, you know, to Eli’s freedom travel systems and everything else. Is there anything else we want to cover before we head into the fire round?
I’ve got two more. I’ve got two more for you. So you had mentioned a little bit earlier something that’s very important to our audience, and that is 3% cashback on adspend. Can you, what was that card?
Eli Facenda 37:49
Chase Inc Preferred. Yeah, so it’s three points per dollar spent. So 3% would mean if you’re getting at one cent per point, but just alone again, that’s why you want to think about it. Because if you have that earning, you’re earning three points per dollar spent, and then you have the Chase Sapphire reserve too now you’re deeming at 1.5 cents per point, that means that you’re getting 4.5% instead of three. Does that make sense?
No. Can you break it down for me, I’m not as sharp as David.
Eli Facenda 38:18
No, no worries. So. it is kind of complicated stuff and materials, concepts. It’s kind of tough. So you’re earning three points on every dollar you spend, right. And if you got one point, or sorry, one cent per point, that’d be 3%. Right. And if you’re getting a card, that gives you a 50% bonus when you use those points, you’re at 1.5 cents per point. See what I’m saying so you get an extra 50% value.
Okay, so you put it on one credit card, and then you redeem it with the other one.
Eli Facenda 38:44
There you go. So that’s how it works. So depending on the bank, like AmEx, all of your points will pull together into one ecosystem. With Chase, they kind of live on the different cards, and you have to do what they call combine points, it’s literally just a button, click combine. And then they’re basically like on your Chase Sapphire reserve card. So that’s how you get like better usage out of these kinds of things. And sometimes combine cards within banks that have different perks.
Nice. So just leveled up right there.
I know. I love this. So yeah, and we’re gonna post links to this in the show notes. I think one thing I want to point out is you know, PPC especially on Amazon is getting so competitive. And if you are getting that cash back, you are artificially decreasing your average cost of a sale. And so, and to the extent that your competitors are not you are more competitive. And by not utilizing this, you are leaving money on the table. And so I think that for anyone that is having Amazon deduct your PPC spend out of your payments, you’re a fool. You need to be using a credit card and if you aren’t doing it, then you should be using these cards that you mentioned, Eli,
Eli Facenda 39:51
One thing I want to just quickly touch on that too. And it’s important here because I know there’s some accounting and tax backgrounds here on this call. And so I want to talk a little bit on the the tax implications as well. Because, think about it this way, the points are technically non taxable. They’re not considered income if you’re just earning points on spend. And so what happens is, let’s say, two scenarios, right, scenario one, you know, the business owner is using points, and he’s gonna take, you know, family vacations they’re personal trips, they’re not write offs for the business. And he’s spending $10,000 a year on family vacations, they’re doing some cool epic stuff. So if you use points for that, he’s obviously not paying the 10,000 because he’s using points. So basically, there’s that value, but he also doesn’t have to use the cash that we pulled out of the business to go take that vacation. So technically, if there are other ways to keep the money, keep that cash in the business, invest in things, hire the team, you no longer need the cash to go take the vacation. So you don’t pay tax on that either. Right, depending on how you’re incorporated and set up. So that is another strategy that kind of plays into it depending on how much personal travel you’re doing versus business travel. And, yeah, it’s just another way that you could look at what is this actually saving in the long run?
Yeah, I’m glad you pointed that out, because Uncle Sam likes to get in there and take his 30% haircut every time. So I think that’s a really, and you know what, that’s not even gray area. That’s like, that’s in IRS, you know, you’re following the rules. And so that’s, uh, I’m glad that you pointed it out. One last question, and this is kind of just for my own curiosity. I have heard of certain cards that, like, they’re, it’s like a status symbol. It’s like driving a Lamborghini. Either they’re made out of 24 karat gold, or what is, do you have any aspirational cards, or like, hey, boy, if I ever got this card, I knew, you know, life is going well.
Eli Facenda 41:39
So the AMEX black card is definitely the highest status. And it’s invitation only, like you can’t apply for it. Yeah, you have to spend a certain amount and they give it to you. But honestly, like, it’s very high status, it comes with some cool concierge services and stuff. But the best value of it is literally just the status, because it’s not like the perks on it aren’t even that great. So it’s kind of funny, but there’s that. And then the second highest one is the AMEX platinum, that’s definitely one where, like, you put that down, and it’s like, you know, the, the higher level of car, like the harder the metal is you put down like just like starts clinking around, you’re like, Oh, that guy’s got a platinum, like that’s, that’s legit. You know, if you’re on a date, you pull that card out. Those would be the top two, there’s one called the founders card, which they kind of it’s a newer thing they’ve tried to like, it’s not really a credit card, but it’s more like a almost like gets you memberships into things. I don’t really care for that, but some people think that’s like, kind of a high status flash too.
Very interesting. Well, good stuff. I have learned a tremendous amount on this podcast, and we’re gonna have to have you back to to chat more. So, let’s get into the fire round.
Yeah, let’s do it. Eli, you ready?
Eli Facenda 42:41
What is your favorite book?
Eli Facenda 42:43
I’m gonna give you two. Clarity, by Jamie Smart is my favorite book, like psychology mindset stuff is amazing. Totally shifted my view on reality when I first read that, and then business book is the E Myth by Michael Gerber. Just incredible if you’re getting into entrepreneurship like, you got to read that book.
And who wrote Clarity?
Eli Facenda 43:01
Jamie Smart. Okay, awesome. I’m gonna check that one out. What are your hobbies?
Eli Facenda 43:06
So, hobbies that I want to get more into is definitely surfing. And I really like snowboarding so I do that a lot. But pretty active. So working out is the main hobby, which is kind of like a not very exciting hobby. Honestly, I’m so focused on the businesses that I’m building, like, that’s where 99% of my energy is going. But I would say surfing and snowboarding would be the two main hobbies.
Nice, very cool. What do you think sets apart successful entrepreneurs from those who give up, fail or never get started?
Eli Facenda 43:34
Purpose. And also how short or long term they’re looking.
Okay, awesome. No, that is good, yeah. It’s a journey, right?
Eli Facenda 43:44
Yeah. And consistency. I mean, I would throw in that, consistency over time. Especially, you know, on the younger side I see so many entrepreneurs that are in their 20s they’re just starting out and like it didn’t work. I’m like, how long you been doing this, they’re like 70 days and I’m like yeah, no wonder it didn’t work like try for like a year or two or three like and then tell me. So, that’s part of it.
Yeah. Excellent advice. David, you want to close out the show?
You bet, so for all of our listeners that are looking to get their, you know get more free travel, get more free nights and want to get a hold of you and freedom travel systems, what’s the best way to get a hold of you?
Eli Facenda 44:16
Yeah, so the best way you can just go to www.freedomtravelsystems.com, but really the best way to just engage me ask questions is gonna be on my Instagram. It’s @elitravelguy is my main page so follow me there shoot me a message I’m sharing all sorts of tips, strategies, hacks, you know ideas around how you can leverage credit, how you can travel more free, showing kind of behind the scenes of like when I’m traveling, how I’m doing it, all that stuff. And if you need like a quick card recommendation, just send me a message there and I can try to help you out as best as possible.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being a guest on the firing the man podcast and look forward to doing it again.
Eli Facenda 44:49
Awesome. Thank you guys for having me and it was a blast.
Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s firing the man podcast. If you liked this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com and check out our resource library for exclusive firing the man discounts on popular e commerce subscription services. That is www.firingtheman.com\resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, for that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at firing the man, and on YouTube at firing the man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer
and Ken Wilson. We’re out
Before you go, fun fact for all you Amazon sellers out there, when you start selling in international marketplaces, all of your reviews come with you. At the beginning of this year, Ken and I sat down and talked of ways that we could double our businesses in size and landed on international expansion as our number one initiative this year. We partnered up with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing e commerce and he has made the process an absolute breeze walking us step by step through the process. If you want to grow your revenue and reach new customers head on over to www.maximizingecommerce.com/fire and connect with Kevin Sanderson today. Now back to the show.
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