A crazy million mile idea. Should I do it?

A few weeks ago I had an idea.  I’m not saying it was a good idea, but to me it was a fun idea.  A fun challenge.  A big challenge…

The idea is simple: I will challenge myself to earn a million miles in a month.

Now, to be clear, I don’t need a million more miles.  And, there’s nothing special about the number “million” other than the fact that it is big and begins with the same letter as “miles”.  And, there’s nothing special about the timeframe of a month other than that it is a relatively small amount of time in which to earn lots of miles.  And, of course, “month” begins with the same letter as “million” and “miles”.  No, I don’t need a million more miles, but I think it would be great fun to try to get them, in one month.

My first thought was that I should do this in May since that’s a nice month that begins with the same nice letter.  But then I realized that March was also a good month in which to preserve the ridiculous alliteration and it is much more amenable to puns.  “Million Mile March” has a nice ring to it.  To me, it sounds better than “Million Mile May”.  I like too that it sounds like my intention is to march a million miles, Forest Gumpishly.  A million mile march would be the equivalent of walking completely around the earth 40 times.  If someone wanted to match my Million Mile March with their own million mile march, they would have to walk the equivalent of 1 and 1/3 times around the earth each day.  I would argue that earning a million miles would be easier.

Less than a million rules

To do this crazy feat, I would need some rules.  I mean, given unlimited money, I could buy a million miles, but that wouldn’t be fun at all.  So here are some thoughts:

  • Keep to a budget of $1000. Many point-earning techniques cost money. Let’s keep the total expenses down to $1000 or less.
  • Miles or points, it’s all good.  Even though different types of miles & points are more or less valuable, I think this game would be easier if we just agree to count all miles and points as long as they are somewhat travel related (e.g. airline miles, hotel points, flexible points, etc. all count).
  • No extra points through conversions.  Sometimes its possible to trade one type of point for another at a better than 1 to 1 ratio.  For example, Virgin Atlantic points can be transferred to twice as many Hilton points.  In this example, I think it would be cheating to count the Hilton points.
  • Cash earnings can be used to increase the budget.  If I make money through cash-back portals, for example, that cash can be used towards more mile-earning opportunities.
  • No points from family and friends.  I could always ask my wife to sign up for a bunch of credit cards (and I frequently do), but I won’t count those points towards this challenge.
  • Points expected, but not yet credited are OK.  It often takes quite a while for points to get credited to a person’s account.  Whether I’m waiting for sign-up bonus points, shopping portal points, or run of the mill credit card statement points, I’ll count the ones I expect to get based on March activity even if the points don’t actually post until April or later.
  • All requirements must be met within the month.  If I sign up for a credit card in order to earn the sign-up bonus, I would have to sign up in March and meet minimum spend requirements in March in order to count the points.  Here’s to hoping for overnight credit card delivery!
  • Don’t cross the line.  There are often times when points can be earned by violating laws, rules, or ethics.  Those opportunities are not allowed.  See “Drawing the line.”

Did I miss any important rules?

Blogging on the way

If I do this, then I would post a bunch of progress reports during the month of March.  With most of the reports I expect that I would be able to give full details of how I earned points, but in some cases I may not.  The reason is that some deals have limited scope – only so many people can participate before the deal is ruined.  One example is when I buy merchandise for points and resell the stuff.  If I were to specify exactly what I bought, many others would be likely to do the same, and then when trying to sell the stuff we would face a price war as we all competed with each other.  So, for some things, where I think necessary, I’ll be less forthcoming about how exactly the points were earned.

Who’s with me?

Do I do this alone or are there others who would like to join me on this ridiculous mission? If there are others, I think it would be very interesting to track everyone’s progress along the way.  We could setup a Google spreadsheet or something similar for each person to self-report their progress.

What do you think?

Is this crazy idea worth doing?  As a full time blogger, I’m lucky enough to have the time to do insane things like this.  I think that many readers would find it entertaining to follow along with my successes and setbacks as I report them.  And, maybe, we’ll all learn some great tricks along the way.  What do you think?

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  1. I’m conflicted about this. I was excited about your proposed adventure at first, but I share some of the concerns expressed about killing the good deals that exist now. If you decide to do it, I wish you luck.

  2. Well I have already done it in like 2-3 months but I can tell ya’ll from experience you will most likely get shut down or kicked out of a few things in doing so. Some wont matter, some can be recovered but some take work or effort and can even hinder future mileage earnings on the slower track.
    In either case you may find your own peers later telling you that you shoulda done this or that and it was this or that… but it’s not about being a star, it’s just about doing what my trainer at the gym says: Set a goal and reach your goal as quickly as you can.
    Then again being able to sustain certain levels is also key. Depends, therefore, on what goal(s) you have! And it is NOT about touting on here or in FT, etc. It is about getting the miles and using them. A trans-Atlantic flight for a family of 4 is up to 300k sometimes. So that’s not even enough if you wish to visit family overseas 2x in 2 years now is it?
    But count me in lol

  3. @Grant – Oh like this “code” for this adventure:
    FM4M = Frequent Miler’s March Million Mile Madness!
    Also kinda work FM for (a million points).
    @FM – I could see this going big on BA with others jumping in and trying with progress and coverage.

  4. Add me to the list of want to see this done without any “bending of the rules.” Sure, many have received 6x Hilton points for VR purchases (and gift cards) at CVS, but it is specifically against the T and C. And I agree that Business cards that state that they should be used for business purposes/purchases be used for such (in this challenge :))

    Might make it a bit tougher…….

  5. This would be more instructive if you keep a log of the time spent by activity (store trips, phone calls, etc) and try to measure the real costs including such things as gas and use of the car. In 128 comments I see hardly any mention of the time and real costs of this. People can better figure out their opportunity cost with a realistic reckoning with that this takes.

  6. I believe that everyone needs to draw their own line in defining what is acceptable to do towards collecting miles. Whatever rules I choose to follow will be based on where I draw that line (with some help from my wife, of course). I don’t have a problem with using a business credit card for things like buying gift cards. If you do, then don’t do what I do.

    I plan to widely diversify techniques so those trying to play along should be able to pick and choose.

    I like the idea of tracking my time and effort. We’ll see if I am disciples enough to carry that out :)

    • It can be difficult to judge time into the equation. If you pass by many drugstores and office supply stores in your regular commute, that doesn’t seem like alot of time, but it is time. I personally count it as time well spent, since it is just time that I am not wathing TV.

  7. Well yah… in my case I actually did register a small business in my town and get a stamped certificate to that affect stating I own a business in marketing promotions and travel consulting. There’s no reason why I cant use my business CC which is actually set up in that name to buy GCs for ‘promotional services & continued use.’
    I mean, in a way, isn’t that kinda the same as when you call a company and they say they are recording the call for ‘quality and training purposes?’ (Only if one were to ever call 1-800-Walmart would that the recording also state that they are recording it for ‘other business reasons.’)

  8. @smitty – agreed. Sometimes a visit to say, WM can be 10 mins in and out and sometimes there’s issues, calls to something, broken equipment, etc and it takes an hour. Sometimes a visit to CVS yields no spice and sometimes a call to a CC CSR takes 20 mins or 30 seconds. I figure it comes down to whether or not the whole gig is fun to do or a pain to do overall. If too many bad things like an FR or some shut down take place, then it is not. If you get through it and spend some time but it averages out to being relatively doable, then it is good. Also, if you have more time than the willingness to spend money on a flight, then it is good. I mean I dunno. It’s all relative–and what comes easy to us vs someone else who knows nothing of these arts.

  9. Ok, frequentmiler. Let’s allow hotel points but make this a challenge that ANYONE following your blog could complete. In that vien, I think we need to rule out getting VR cards from CVS as a valid strategy. For example, the nearest CVS that has VR and accepts CC or GC for payment is 100 miles away. I’m sure many of your readers face similar challenges with this approach. What do you think?

  10. I like the idea although it wont be good timing for me on new credit apps until April. I am pretty creative so I will go along with you. BTW we talked briefly at the LAX mettup before your discussion. I forgot to tell you how I like your blog and your talk was quite interesting as well.

  11. Sorry for the late response, I like the idea of adding the Charitable Donation to the success of the promotion :-)

    Can the miles themselves, or some portion of them be donated to Charity? Do Charities take miles?

    Anyway, good luck, and thanks for being open minded. :-)

    • Brian: There are some organizations that coordinate accepting miles for charity, but I don’t think the charities end up getting as good of value from the miles as they are worth. In general, I’d rather give cash.

  12. I just treated 6 of my mothers friends to roundtrip airline tickets to Italy to celebrate my mothers 80th birthday. Gave up A LOT of miles so I need to replenish my accounts. I’m in too! Just praying my home refi actually closes this week so I can join all of you in March. I love a challenge too!!!!

  13. why don’t you try to make a deal with a contractor to use the lowes credit? they usually have a large bill (and typically pay cash).

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