Million Mile Madness, it’s on

Last Friday I posted my crazy idea in which I would attempt to earn a million miles in a month (see “A crazy million mile idea. Should I do it?“).  Reader response was highly enthusiastic (for the most part), so yes I will do it!  The challenge won’t start until March 1, but there is quite a bit of prep work to do before then…

Name it

I originally planned to name this challenge “Million Mile March” because I liked the sound of it, I like alliteration and puns, and I planned to do it in March.  But a reader pointed out the similarity to the name “Million Man March” and suggested that it might be a bit insensitive to use a name that compares my greedy, frivolous challenge to what Wikipedia calls “one of the most important modern events of African-American civil rights.”  Agreed.

Other readers jumped in with great name suggestions:

  • Million Mile March Madness
  • March Million Mile Madness
  • Million Miler Secrets (meant as a joke, I believe)
  • Frequent Miler’s Million Mile Madness… in March
  • Frequent Miler’s March Million Mile Madness!

Unfortunately, the first two risk the wrath of NCAA lawyers (see, for example, this article).  The third suggestion, Million Miler Secrets, risks the wrath of fellow blogger Daraius, from Million Mile Secrets.  He might unleash upon me lawyers, bowties, or his in-laws (who happen to live fairly near me).  I’m not willing to risk any of those encounters.

The last two suggestions both contain “Million Mile Madness“.  I like it.  Let’s do it.

Hammer out the rules

In my previous post, I listed a number of rules that I though made sense for this challenge.  Some readers suggested additional rules and some asked for clarification where rules weren’t in place.  Some objected to the rule saying “no extra points through conversions.”  I’m open to these ideas and others.  We have time to iron out most of these later.

There is one suggestion that I want to address now, however.  Some readers proposed rules that said, essentially, that I shouldn’t do anything to collect miles unless that same opportunity was available to everyone.  I’m sorry, but I believe that’s impossible.  Let’s look at some of the ways I intend to earn points:

  • Credit card signup bonuses: Given that we all have different credit histories, it would be impossible to pick out credit cards that we all can get approved for.  Also, the cards you hold now or recently applied for somewhat dictate what will be and won’t be available to you in March.  For example, I would consider signing up for the United MileagePlus card if I can get the 50K offer in March.  However, many of you probably already have that card and wouldn’t be approved for another signup bonus.
  • Shopping Portal Promotions: Some shopping portals require credit card accounts to get access.  For example, to get to the Ultimate Rewards Mall, you need to own a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points.  If I leverage promotions in one of these portals, it would not be available to all readers.
  • Credit Card Category Bonuses: In some cases I’ll use credit card category bonuses to increase point earnings or to offset expenses (when using cash-back cards).  The ability to leverage these bonuses depends on being a cardholder.
  • Store Promotions/Opportunities: Not all stores and opportunities exist in all locations.  For example, I expect to make some use of my Target Amex card to help meet minimum spend requirements.   Unfortunately, the Target Amex card is not sold in all States. 
  • Investments: Some opportunities require short term or long term financial investments.  For example, some banks and investment firms offer points for deposits.  Another example is where one buys “free after rebate” items in order to earn points and get one’s money back.  This latter example is an investment in that your money can be tied up for quite a while.  Everyone has different circumstances that dictate how much money they can safely invest in point and mile opportunities.  And, everyone has different levels of risk tolerance.

So, let me be clear: the things I do to earn a million points will not be a step by step guide that everyone can follow.  Instead, I will report a series of techniques that will require thought and planning on each person’s part if they want to follow along.  For example, each person will have to decide for themselves which credit cards to sign up for (if any), which promotions are worth the risk, how much money they can invest, and so on. 

I’m in a unique situation in which I have the time to pursue this, I have money saved up in the bank (thanks severance checks!), I have fairly high risk tolerance, and I have an excellent and long credit history.  If you’re thinking of following along, please first consider whether your circumstances warrant this leap.  It will involve quite a bit of work and financial risk.  Is it really worth it to you?

Plan ahead

Earning a million miles in a month is not going to be easy.  I will need to carefully protect my credit score (in preparation for new credit card sign-ups), save money (for investments), and so on.  I also need to test out ideas for earning points & miles so that I’m ready to go on March 1.  I’ll follow up soon with details about this planning process.

I’ll also need to setup a spreadsheet for tracking expenses, points earned and expected, etc.  Many readers expressed interest in joining this challenge, so we’ll also have to figure out, technically, a good way for everyone to share their progress without letting others overwrite their results.  If anyone has good ideas about this and is willing to help set it up, please let me know!  In my opinion, the simpler the solution, the better.

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 »

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be make sure to hit up OD and the various ice cream stores in February, because with everyone going ridiculously overboard at the same time in march, I figure most of these deals will be dead by April.

    Hogs get slaughtered. A thousand hogs acting at once will slaughter us all

  2. Hogs get slaughtered? Dont they slaughter Pigs as well? What does either have to do with earning miles/points? It should be up to each individual to decide for their own acct what is “too much” or “too many” of any deal.

  3. If FM and hundreds of his followers go all-in from March 1-31, it seems likely that our common sources of valuable opportunities for putting spend on credit cards (office supply stores, drug stores, grocery stores, department stores, home improvement stores) may change the rules that we have all been able to use to meet minimum spend or rack up miles/points. That’s the downside risk of doing a “fun” challenge. Let’s not ruin a good thing. My 2 cents.

  4. @milegageupdate
    really like your site btw… my point was along the lines of what bf said in comment 8. sure its up to everyone to decide whats fine with them, but —

    “If FM and hundreds of his followers go all-in from March 1-31, it seems likely that our common sources of valuable opportunities for putting spend on credit cards (office supply stores, drug stores, grocery stores, department stores, home improvement stores) may change the rules”

  5. The way I look at it is that setting such a high mileage goal makes for an exciting challenge. I really don’t get the objection by a few that setting such a goal makes you somehow greedy. People read this blog to maximize their points and miles earnings so I guess that makes all of us “greedy”. As long as people arent doing anything illegal or highly unethical I say whatever. One million points in a month is just an arbitrary number that sounds cool and makes for IMO a fun challenge.

    Personally, my main takeaway from this will be exploring techniques that are repeatable every month and seeing how far you can leverage them. CC bonuses are a good way to get points but you can only apply for so many at a time and options become limited. I am not saying I think you should not include such bonuses in your total.

  6. Jay – sure I see that point. I dont see many that will alter their spend to the upside. Their are certain individual barriers for most. Finances and availability being the 2 biggest stoppers of “unlimited” earnings.

  7. Understanding that the situation of every reader is unique and may/may not be willing to follow every technique you suggest (if some one has a mortgage coming up they will not be able to do a churn, if they do not have access to the ‘lucrative’ mall, they cannot get the same # of points even for the same kind of purchase..). To keep this ‘madness’ in the interest of a larger group of audience, how about introducing levels in the million mile audience. Something like ‘Noob’ for a 200K, ‘Mile Marcher’ for 500K, ‘Mile Lover’ for 750K and finally, ‘Mad FMer’ for A MILLION.

  8. I was glad to see the spreadsheet piece. I love this whole idea, but you need to be up front about how many hard costs you incur. (I can understand writing off your time.) That is probably what I will be most interested in. Even if you got every point, on average for .2 cents, that is still $2000……

  9. The points can probably be had for less than .2 cents a piece if you count the cash back for purchasing certain GC ahead of time. I guess its gonna depend on your accounting (some people can get creative).

  10. If you setup the spreadsheet on google docs you’ll be able to support having multiple people track on the same document without worrying about being over-written by someone else.

    It also has revision history by default in case anyone does anything REALLY screwy!

    GL with the challenge, be fun to read along.

  11. I like PhatMiles idea…different levels of status to attain 500K, 750K, 1mil, etc. There’s no way, I’ll make 1 mil miles, I’m too risk adverse. But if I got 500K, I would be really shocked and thrilled.

  12. @FrequentMiler, there is only a blanket edit for Google spreadsheets. The only you can do is have a spreadsheet with links to all the other spreadsheets. So you can edit your spreadsheet and we can all view and we all email you links to our spreadsheets where everyone can view but only we (the owner) can edit. Otherwise you can just all edit by participants and hope that no one really messes up other people’s stuff. I guess that is why there is a revision history so you can revert. Another option is to create a webpage with everyones spreadsheet embedded in it. This should actually be fairly easy also.

    btw, count me in for this when it starts.

  13. I hope and believe that these actions will kill off these mediocre deals. The real heavy hitters are a ‘million miles’ beyond you boobs. A bunch of simpletons.

    Between flipping items and truly ‘creative’ point accumulation activities I’ll have made >$20,000 since Thanksgiving. That’s while holding down a ‘real’ job too!

  14. As Brandon said, its a blanket permissioning. You can be creative and make forms to populate the spreadsheet and limit the ability for users to change the raw spreadsheet.

    Not a clue how to do it though, I just know people have done it before!

  15. I like the originality of the idea. Heck, I like all original things in this space. Getting tired seeing over and over how Ink cards can get me 5 pts at office supply stores! Not sure about the spreadsheet, makes it too scientific/anal to me, I like the free flowing feel of it all.

    Please stay away from the Industrial St drug store. Wife is now two out of two in a row, come on, leave some for the rest of us, thank you!

  16. Are there really a bunch of readers that plan on trying to follow FM on the path to 1M miles in a month? The whole thing is an absurd arbitrary challenge, which I think will make for some good blog articles, but doesn’t sound like a reasonable plan for anyone else to follow. FM even states that in this article. He also describes the methods he will use, none of which are new. The miles will also be all over the place with various airlines, hotels, and credit card point programs which is fine for a travel blogger, but not as good for anyone with specific travel goals in mind. Are there people out there who will invest the time and effort to earn a million points, but need to have their hand held every step of the way? I guess this is why I’m not concerned that there will be legions of readers following FM’s every step and “ruining” deals for everyone else.

  17. I’ve used google docs befor to creat forms that people can enter information into and those forms can generate reports. I beleive what you want done can be done with google docs. I might try playing around with it a bit in the next few days and I’ll let you know what I find.

  18. This might be a problem for me. I got 3 credit cards (1 Chase) in November, got greedy and took 2 more (both Chase) in December. While March would be 90 days, I was going to push it until April at least. Hmm.

  19. FM – you’re my hero. I’m just glad you’re willing to conduct this little dog and pony show in public. My plan is to play along and jump in where I can. I’m due for a churn in March so that will definitely help. Although you have given loads of great ideas already, I’m excited to see what you have up your sleeve for March. I’m always looking to take my game to the next level.

  20. im in

    didnt google introduce a product a while back, wiki like where users can collaborate on projects, even spreadsheets

  21. FM, not completely related, but are you allowed to add forums to this blog? I have phpbb forums on my site and its a breeze to make modifications to them. I had some annoying spam and version updating issues over the years, but phpbb.com support forums have people willing to help you with anything phpbb related via advice or via personal intervention (paid one guy a few years ago, and another last year offered to improve my spam control for free and did a great job). Also, forums are the best place on my site for making an income.

  22. So you can only get another Chase card after 90 days? I terminated my United Airlines Explorer VISA on 11/24/12, but still have my really old, standard United Airlines VISA card. Could I tempt fate and try for the Chase Sapphire card now and snag the 40,000 point bonus that I could transfer to Mileage Plus? Or should I wait to March and reapply for the United Airlines Explorer VISA and possibly get a 50,000 mile bonus?

    • Galway1: Chase generally limits people to no more than 2 new cards per month. The “90+ day” thing has to do with credit card churning where people sign up for a bunch of cards at once. Afterwards, it’s a good idea to wait at least three months so that the impact of those hard credit pulls will be substantially less on your credit report. There’s nothing magical that happens in March to make the 50K United deal available (that I know of). Instead, I’m simply hoping that I’ll be able to get that offer through tricks that people find.

  23. I really hope you are careful with this and don’t overexpose your techniques with step by step spoonfeeding to all the readers without any creativity of their own (ie, Lively etc who will undoubtedly come back and say that you should post step by step directions for “1M miles for Dummies”).

    I just applied for 2 different CCs through your affiliate links a few days ago based on my belief that you TRY fairly hard to keep things under wrap and not kill deals, unlike those spoonfeeding toolboxes such as VFTW, MMS, TPG, et al (and of course cuz you don’t shove affiliate links down our throats like the above 3 do, which I very much appreciate and think should be rewarded). Please don’t make me regret my decision.

    • gregorygrady: I certainly appreciate you using my links! And, yes, I do try to write about deals in a way that I can share with readers without overexposing them, but that’s always a fine line walk. I’m sure you’ll let me know when I cross it :). As to this challenge, I don’t really think there’s much to worry about (but time will prove me right or wrong). I expect to do stuff that has been well covered before: credit card sign-ups, lot’s of buying and selling, etc.

  24. This will be incredibly exciting to read about! I don’t think you’ll succeed but it will be fun to see you try.

  25. I have to agree with Jay’s first post. This much activity in the community is sure to get some of our best loopholes closed. A game is a game but greed that hurts all of us is not good. IMHO

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