10.9.17 Online Savings

Dan’s Deals Offers Savings for Shoppers, Advice on Rewards Programs, and a Community for Bargain Hunters

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: As an authoritative source of information on airline miles, credit card rewards, and everyday savings, Dan’s Deals has helped millions of visitors discover the best ways to stretch their money. The site’s founder, Dan Eleff, is a devoted traveler and bargain hunter who created Dan’s Deals to share his tricks of the travel trade with others. Dan’s Deals also has a devoted forum community of active, well-traveled users who are inspired by Dan. Tens of thousands of bargain hunters come together daily on the site — and on Dan’s Deals’ social media accounts — to support each other in their search for savings.

Dan Eleff doesn’t generally recommend using rewards points or airline miles to purchase non-travel items. And as the founder of Dan’s Deals, which specializes in informing readers on airline miles, credit card points, and online savings, Dan would know.

But some of his most spectacular savings experiences have been when he strayed from that advice. A few of those experiences relate to one of bargain-obsessed Dan’s other passions: baseball. Dan, a fifth-generation Cleveland, Ohio, native and lifelong fan of the Indians, bid 25,000 United MileagePlus award miles in a points auction for a chance to “steal” second base at an Indians game in 2013. He won.

Dan Eleff, Founder of Dan’s Deals, shares his vast miles and points knowledge with his site’s readers.

Although the payoff included four field-level box seats and a parking pass, it was the chance to run out on the field that really mattered. “Time just stood still for me,” he wrote in a post on Dan’s Deals. “It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” He even got to keep the base.

Voted the best miles and points blog of 2016 by USA Today’s readers, Dan’s Deals personifies that experience. It’s a leading shopping and savings destination on the web with millions of users, more than 100,000 daily visits, and a robust presence on social media.

What makes the site special, however, is Dan himself. Regular visitors to Dan’s Deals know him in a way that is almost personal — they even follow his travels with his wife and two kids on Instagram. And he continues to write for the site, helping readers gain and apply savings knowledge while keeping them abreast of what’s going on in his own life.

The site also buzzes with the energy of the Dan’s Deals community — thousands of bargain hunters, like Dan, who are inspired to visit the site’s forum to learn and help each other. Since Dan’s Deals started in 2004, users have earned more than 5 billion miles and points, and saved more than $500 million on shopping and travel deals.

Curated Savings Tips on Everything from Travel to Home Goods

Dan’s Deals brims not only with info on points and miles but with hand-picked airfare and shopping deals as well.

For domestic and international travelers, Dan and his sole colleague, brother JJ Eleff, present deals on airfare prices — and keep readers up to date on the price mistakes, or glitches, airlines make. Savvy travelers who follow Dan’s Deals know to spring into action when, for example, news of an airline’s failure to collect a fuel surcharge on tickets arrives on the site.

While Dan’s Deals focuses mostly on points, miles, and travel, the site also shares savings tips from many online retailers.

JJ joined Dan’s Deals in 2013 and helped Dan expand the deals section, increasing both the number and variety of daily posts.

For shoppers, Dan’s Deals offers savings in categories that include apparel, electronics, and family items, along with restaurant-only coupons and retailer-specific offers, among others. Amazon, Walmart, and Costco are well represented on the shopping pages as are travel-related retailers in categories such as luggage, gas, and events.

Credit card offers — and travel deals associated with credit card points, miles, and rewards programs — are also extensively covered. Card offers are sorted by category and Dan and JJ curate the travel deals.

Dan Eleff Shares a Wealth of Knowledge and Deals with Readers

Amid all the deals and digital commerce is the voice of Dan Eleff. The base-stealing story is an example of how Dan shares his enthusiasm in a way that has helped the site transcend the transactional nature of many savings sites on the web.

Dan has been obsessed with deals since he was a child, and he shares stories about his history as a bargain hunter. As a schoolboy, he was known as a baseball card “flipper.” Later he became a pioneer reseller on eBay. Then, on a school-related trip to Brazil, he found a way to score a deal on toilet paper for his supply-starved classmates — which inspired him to build the site.

Dan Eleff discusses his interests — including his hometown Cleveland Indians — in his personal commentary section.

That dedication to helping others is evident in the points and travel section of Dan’s Deals, which contains Dan’s trip notes — accounts of his experiences over the years as a solo and family traveler. More than a compendium of travel transactions, Dan’s trip notes convey the joy of discovery made possible by travel.

Dan’s Commentary is the most personal component of his blog. That’s where Dan recalls family and personal milestones, recounts how his experiences have changed him over the years, and reports on his interests, including bargains, sports, and his faith.

Forums and Social Media Help Users Add to Dan’s Deals

Because Dan is so upfront about who he is and what interests him, his readers are motivated to give back in kind, which is why the Dan’s Deals community is so active.

Everywhere on the site, Dan and JJ’s posts drive engagement through comments and questions. Readers alert others when coupon codes have expired or when deals for similar or related products go online. They also ask Dan and JJ — as well as each other — for product recommendations and evaluations.

Dan’s Deals uses social media, including Instagram, to keep followers informed about points and miles offers.

The Dan’s Deals forum further nurtures a sense of community, offering support for users who are new to what Dan calls the “travel game” along with tips and tricks for the more experienced.

“It is clear that many people here are interested in helping one another just for the sake of helping,” Dan wrote.

Social media tools extend the Dan’s Deals community. The site’s Facebook page has many visitors, Dan’s Instagram feed gives followers a glimpse into his world, and almost 90,000 followers on Twitter stay updated on the web’s best travel bargains, ready to pounce when Dan or JJ send a juicy lead down the pike.

The Best Bargains and a Community Dedicated to Saving Money

Occasionally, Dan still goes against his general advice on using points and miles. In 2016, Dan topped his 2013 base-stealing adventure by spending 1.06 million Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints to throw out the first pitch at Game 7 of the World Series in Cleveland, where Dan’s beloved Indians were playing for a championship.

Even though the Indians lost, it was another once-in-a-lifetime experience for Dan, and he proudly shared it with his readers.

Dan Eleff used Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints to throw out the first pitch at Game 7 of the World Series in 2016.

It seems inevitable that Dan got into the business he’s in — it’s what interests him. When he found that free toilet paper deal in Brazil — making everyone around him happy — he knew he had a gift to share with the world.

“The lightbulb went off,” Dan wrote in a blog post. “I didn’t start it to make a dime; it was just another way to keep in touch with — and help out — friends and family.”

About The Author

Jon McDonald is a contributing editor for DealCrunch with over 15 years of experience editing, writing, and designing at numerous publications. His passions include digging into emerging trends and seeking out the companies making an impact on the retail industry.

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