Mileage Run Shopping: Buying 162,000 Miles for $500

Today is my big, all day mileage run. It is also Sears’ 10 points per dollar day via Chase. I plan to use Delta’s in-flight wifi and the Sears deal to essentially buy 162,000 miles for $500 or less. Details to follow.

NOTE: I will update this page regularly during the day, so come back often and refresh the page to see the latest updates.

Mileage Run

For background about the mileage run I’m doing today, please see How my $320 mileage run will result in 54000 Delta SkyMiles.

This morning I woke up early and headed out to the airport on slick roads due to an overnight snowfall. I drove slowly and carefully, not wanting to become yet another hospitalized BoardingArea blogger. I got to the airport fairly late, but was whisked through security thanks to TSA PRE! For more about TSA PRE, see I’m in Love with TSA PRE. I know others have reported otherwise, but I’m three for three on TSA PRE flying out of Detroit! Anyway, I made it to my flight and I made the upgrade, so I’m happily sitting in First on my way to my first stop – Salt Lake City. I remember one reader asked me to wave hello as I pass through SLC, but I don’t remember who. Anyway, I’ll happily wave to any readers in the area!

A few weeks ago I bought a 3 pack of GoGo wifi service thanks to a special I read about (from Dan’s Deals maybe?). So, I’m using the first of the 3 pack today. So far, so good! The internet speed is actually pretty snappy unlike previous experiences I’ve had.

9:30-ish EST: I need to close up the computer now for a bit – breakfast is coming. After breakfast I’ll tell you how I plan to buy 162,000 miles today (and no, I’m not counting the 54000 miles from the mileage run that I’ve reported before).

11:30-ish EST: I’m back.

Shopping for Miles

First let me say that I was totally inspired by DeltaGOLDflyer over at Delta Points who wrote about how he earned 250,000 SkyMiles for $700 during a SkyMall promotion. I don’t think the opportunities today are that good, but I do think they come close. To get to 250,000 miles, DeltaGOLDflyer bought $5000 worth of products during the Skymall promotion, and then sold them for a slight loss. The idea today is very similar: use the Sears / Ultimate Rewards mall “double dip” technique to buy $5000 worth of products and then sell them for as little loss as possible.

100,000 Miles: If you buy $5000 worth of Sears e-gift cards through the UR mall, and then use the gift cards through the mall for actual product purchases, you will earn a combined 100,000 points from the UR mall. Next, unless you want those products for yourself (or as gifts for others), you need to sell them for as close to the original purchase price as possible. My guess is that if you are smart about how you buy and resell items, you could get away with as little as a 10% loss (that is, a $500 loss on $5000 worth of products).

5000 More Miles: Since you would buy the $5000 worth of products using a mile or point earning credit card, you will get another 5,000 miles on top of the 100,000 listed before.

7000 More Miles: If you log into the Ultimate Rewards Mall with your Chase Sapphire account, the 100,000 miles you earn in the UR mall will result in an additional 7% yearend bonus of 7000 more miles! This bonus will be even more if you use the Sapphire to purchase the gift cards in the mall, but that’s not my plan…

50,000 More Miles: OK, this one is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s a nice way to run up the numbers. I recently signed up for the Chase Ink Bold which will give me a 50,000 point signup bonus after I spend $5000. You know where this is going, right? Now that I have both the Ink Bold and the Sapphire Preferred, when I log into the Ultimate Rewards mall I’m given a choice of which account to log into. So, my plan is to log into the Sapphire account so that mall points will go there (for the end of year bonus), but I will use the Ink Bold for buying the Sears gift cards. That way, I can quickly reach the minimum spend requirements and get 50,000 more points!

100,000 + 5,000 + 7,000 + 50,000 = 162,000 Miles!

Shopping Wisely

The goal is to find products that are in high demand on EBay and Amazon (for resale purposes) and that sell for a competitive price on You should also look for small items to reduce shipping expenses. Personally, I’m hoping to find items that cost $500 and up in order to reduce the number of items I need to sell. In some cases EBay fees are reduced for higher priced items as well, so that is another factor to consider. I will also look mostly at electronics since EBay fees for fixed price sales are considerably lower for high priced electronics than for other types of items. Another thing to consider is the list of Sears’ coupons that are available. Here is the list from the Ultimate Rewards Mall:

Note that code ELEC05 is listed in the text, but not in the coupon code column. If this code works, it will be pretty nice since it will almost completely cover the cost of sales tax depending on where you live.

Escape Plan

What if I buy all this junk and it doesn’t sell? Sears is currently running a “Holiday Extended Return Policy”. This means that, with the exception of computers, unopened items can be returned within 60 days of purchase. Computers can be returned within 30 days. If I try, but can’t sell what I buy, then yes I’ll return those items. I don’t know whether or not I’ll keep the bonus points in such a situation, but it would be really cool if I did! On the other hand, I think I would feel guilty about that…

Some readers have suggested that returning items from the get-go (without trying to sell them first) is a good way to earn miles without any expense. My guess is that this would work, but I don’t personally feel like it is the right thing to do. It is one thing to take advantage of the “double dip” so that Sears gets a smaller margin from each sale, and quite another thing to get Sears to buy you miles without them making a sale at all. I know everyone has different opinions about this: some people don’t feel right about even doing the double dip, whereas others feel that it is perfectly fine to rip off retailers as long as it doesn’t violate any laws. Everyone needs to do what they feel is right.

11:30-ish EST: time to go shopping… I’ll be back later with more info about what I’ve bought.

Purchase Tally (will be updated):

  • $200 Tires: Need for ourselves

12:15-ish EST: About to land…

2:00-ish EST: It was beautiful looking out the window as we descended towards Salt Lake City amidst snow capped mountains. Once we landed, though, I had a mad dash to the next concourse to get on my flight which was already boarding. I made it, and made the upgrade too. Two for two on upgrades so far today!

Purchase Tally (updated ~2:15 EST):

  • $200 Tires: Need for ourselves
  • $200 Nook Color: code ELEC05 took off the sales tax so I paid almost exactly $200. I know I said I was looking for more expensive items, but I want to see what its like selling these in preparation for an upcoming likely Barnes and Noble double dip! That one will have to work differently because B&N doesn’t pay UR points for purchases made with gift cards

I have my eye on a few SLR cameras: I might buy a couple. Unfortunately, we’re getting ready to land. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to pull this off during a mileage run after all!

4:30-ish EST: Ate late lunch in beautiful Sacramento airport. Waiting for flight to LAX and from there back home.

Purchase Tally (updated ~4:30 EST):

  • $200 Tires: Need for ourselves
  • $200 Nook Color: code ELEC05 took off the sales tax so I paid almost exactly $200. I know I said I was looking for more expensive items, but I want to see what its like selling these in preparation for an upcoming likely Barnes and Noble double dip! That one will have to work differently because B&N doesn’t pay UR points for purchases made with gift cards
  • $2000 for three digital SLR cameras. I got a few different ones to try to spread the risk a bit. I like having a diversified portfolio!

At this point I’m not sure I’m going to buy any more unless I find some really awesome deals. I’m pretty tired and need some non-screen time. It’s true that I could just buy more of what I already bought – we’ll see… The good thing is that I’m confident there will be more great deals like this one in the future. In fact, Sears was 10 points per dollar in the UR mall for a few months, I believe, before dropping to 5 points and then moving up to 6. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see it jump up to 10 again sometime in 2012.

Readers: How did you do? What did you buy?

8:15-ish EST: Barely made the upgrade list for my last, and longest flight – Los Angeles to Detroit. I’m very thankful to be sitting up front! I realize now that I haven’t bought presents yet so I need to get back to shopping!

10:00-ish EST:

OK, I’ve added a bunch of presents to the collection (I can’t tell you what they are!), but now I’m officially sick and tired of looking at! Time for a nap J. In future posts I’ll describe how I do at selling some of the items I bought. I’m also very interested in hearing your experiences so please comment or email!

My total tonight was only about half of what I had set out to do. I bought $3000 worth of gift cards and spent about $2500 worth. So, I should see 55,000 points added to my account from the UR mall and will get a 7% bonus on top of that sometime in January. I still have work to do to meet my minimum spend, but there’s plenty of time (and deals) for that. Stay tuned.

Goodnight everyone!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »


  1. […] Assuming you do not have big business expenses, another approach to spending lots of money is “gift card churning”.  You can read about it here: The Art of Gift Card Churning.  The general idea is to buy gift cards at a favorable rate (or with a big rebate) and then find the best option for liquidating those cards so that you either make a profit or, at least, loose as little as possible.  Follow Frequent Miler posts regularly to learn about new gift churning opportunities as they come up.  To see one example, please read Mileage Run Shopping: Buying 162,000 Miles for $500. […]

  2. […] Mileage run shopping: Buying 16,200 miles for $500What a big day December 9th was!  It was the day in which Sears brought back 10 points per dollar in the Ultimate Rewards Mall and it was the day in which I did my first true mileage run which resulted in Platinum status on Delta and 54,000 Delta miles!  Many of you followed along as I flew from city to city using Delta’s in flight internet to buy gift cards and electronics at  I have recently finished selling it all off via EBay, and I’ll post the results soon. […]


  1. Safe travels, looking forward to hearing the rest. We are also planning on hitting the UR mall for Sears today. I noticed on the UR Sears page that purchases are also eligible online. Hoping to see if that really works.

  2. If these items are all gifts for the holidays and then returned. How could they track that?

    Get gift receipts and then return them..

    Hopefully you would not have to do that with all $5000 because maybe there is stuff you actually needed, i.e tires but maybe for half your items.

  3. And I guess the next logical step after returning the items is to use the credit on the site to earn more points?

    Wonder how long that’s going to last until Sears exits the program?

  4. The Canon t3i looks like a good deal and seems to sell on ebay and craigslist for close to current sears price.

    Anything else looking interesting?

  5. Whoops, never mind. It’s only 11 miles per dollar. I misread the promo thinking it was double miles. Still not a bad option if you’re looking for AA miles.

  6. OK, I’m waffling again, lol. It seems to indicate double miles PLUS the 1000 mile bonus. Not sure if the 10 miles per dollar they are offering for sears is already doubled or not, but if it isn’t doubled that would be a pretty sweet offer!

    • HikerT: Thanks for the tip! I’m still waiting/hoping for points to post from the Aadvantage mall shopping I did in September at Sears. So, while this does look like a great opportunity, I’ll pass

      rharrigill: Thanks for the info. I think it is fair to loose the points if you return merchandise. Yes, we’re talking about UR points, but referring to them as miles is OK since converting them to miles is a great use of those points!

  7. I’ve bought something from Sears through the UR mall and returned it (actually had to return it, wasn’t just trying to get free miles). I the miles were deducted from my account around 2-3 months later.

  8. Regarding buying / returning merchandise to generate points or miles. Posting such information is a sure way to kill it. Please think twice before posting such information.

    • HikerT: I posted it because virtually everyone I talked with suggested it. I wanted to get in front of it and suggest that its not such a great idea. I agree that sometimes posting things is a bad idea. In fact, I’m planning to write a post about that topic!

  9. BTW, didn’t mean for my comment above to come up harsh. I just think it’s not a good idea to post some info.

    Thanks for the heads up regarding issues with sears and AAShopping. I think I’ll pass too. That said, I did note on my recent purchase of sears e-gift cards that they can be returned (just in case the miles or points don’t show up).

  10. So what are the thoughts on purchases here? I think I’m in for a few tires and a boat of egift cards. I’m shocked to not see a bigger discussion here (in terms of unique posters). Maybe I’m missing the larger thread elsewhere?

  11. Ashley, they called me to confirm the purchase and asked some security questions. After that they arrived quickly. The number they call from shows up as 13385.

  12. They called to confirm and said because a large amount manager had to review, I purchased them in bundles of $500.Is there a better way to bundle them?

    • Ashley: it sounds like you did speak to the fraud department, but that they said they couldn’t approve the purchase without a manager? That has never happened to me! Yes, I always buy $500 gift cards since it’s a hassle dealing with smaller ones.

  13. If you purchase a large amount they will probably call you to make sure it’s not fraud. I mentioned I would be doing more purchases and asked the rep who called me if should expect a call every time – she said no problem, they would automatically push anything else thru. If you plan to do more today you might want to mention it, just in case.

  14. for e-gift cards, confirmation email comes to tell you to confirm your payment, once that’s done, they have been available in less than an hour. made one big swing and forgot to buy tires(they will just sit in my shed till im ready to swap them) so that’s a cool 15000+ points for my truck tires that i will need next fall anyway. still Christmas shopping and buying for my adopted xmass kiddo then buying more cards that will be for the exact amount of my last purchases. leave everything at 0 by tonight.

  15. Purchased a very small (compared to others) $45 gc via UR+ chase freedom, went through UR again used it to buy two prepaid cell phones + ~$10 charge chase freedom. We’ll see how the points fall. At worst, I should legitimately have $10 worth of points and experimented for the next 10x Sears bonus time.

  16. With time running out, I bought $500 egift card on Chase Sapphire Preferred, got email from Sears asking me to call the Sears fraud dept, which I did, they asked some questions, and a few minutes later I received the codes for the egift card. Went shopping for about $630 worth of things. Checkout on the website was painful, including getting some gibberish characters when trying to apply coupon code. Only allows one coupon code per cart…argh! Clock was ticking, but finally got the transaction to go through with about 2 min to spare – free shipping was all I could get on the coupon. Buggy and rather user unfriendly website, unfortunately.

  17. Frequent miler,
    I missed out this time, as I did not consider the EST vs PST time difference. Next time.

    Speaking of, where did you find out that this promotion was coming up? Is it visible in the Sears website or the UR website? I’d like to purchase a few things, but not sure how long I’ll be waiting.


    • Kevin: Sorry to hear that you missed it! As to how to find out about the promotion, Chase has an ad on the Ultimate Rewards site that says “Holiday Deals are Here”. If you click on that, it shows the upcoming deals.

      toomanybooks: Yes, I’ve double dipped several times with Sears and have always received UR points for both buying gift cards and using them.

      BothofUs2: I’m sorry I didn’t warn about the issue of only being able to use a single coupon code. I ran into that issue too and ended up making many separate purchases to try to maximize the use of the codes. I didn’t see any gibberish characters, though — I don’t know what happened there.

      AS: Yes, sorry, I should have warned about that too. Buying lots of gift cards triggers there fraud prevention team so they need to talk to you to make sure you really intend to buy the cards. I really wasn’t on top of my game yesterday! The whole mileage run thing really threw me off…

      reeder: Let us know how it goes. I do expect you’ll get all of the points!

  18. thanks for all your help. can you look into aa shopping bec it looks like they are also having 10 pts per dollar for sears at aa and wanted to know if the double dip for 20 pts would work when shopping through them? i dont see why not

  19. are u saying above that its not worth shopping thru aa bec it takes so long to get the miles. even in a scenario now where u can get 20 aa miles vs 12 ur?

  20. I made quite a number of purchases in December through the UR site, but none have shown up. Granted, I did use an AMEX card, but that wasn’t an issue in the past. Have they started cracking down on non-chase card payments?

    • Searsfan: In my experience it usually takes about 3 days, but it has taken up to 16 days. I wouldn’t worry yet!

      skoropi: I hope not! I think we’re still OK: I made a purchase on a non-Chase card on December 1st. The points showed up 7 days later.

  21. Hey since you proposed an escape plan it would also be nice to have a plan for starters let’s say something less ambitious in which you would buy less miles for a little bit more let’s say 60,000 miles for probably 30% more of the cost. This amount is pretty good for many people too!! thx Marcos.

  22. Hi i got the Citi AAdvanage Card for a 75,000 signup bonus, it took 3 months to post, after that i signed for travel, then i just cacelled the card, The first annual fee was waived so that was a way to get 75,000 miles at zero cost. I also signed up for a gold package acct with citi another 30,000 miles, of course now i am cancelling teh account, they just required me to keep 6,000 USD in cash in the acct for a few months. So in total i Got 105,000 miles with zero cost, no hassle, no purchases made. that is without counting miles accrued during my use with the accuont card (another 5,000 for a total 110,000) i think i am much smarter than you.

    • Hunter: yes, I got the points. The double dip still works but now only with purchasing physical gift cards. Purchasing e-gift cards no longer results in getting points.

  23. Does anyone know if you can still use the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall to purchase physical gift cards and get 4 points per dollar back?


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