Million Mile Madness: 68000 miles per hour, decelerating rapidly

547,000 points earned. 453,000 left to go.

Background: Million Mile Madness is the fun and foolish quest to earn a million points in one month. Throughout March, I’m doing everything I can to earn as many points as I can while keeping within my ethical boundaries. I don’t expect that a million points will have been credited to my account by March 31st: points often take quite a while to get credited. Instead, I’ll track all of the points that I expect, and I’ll declare victory if the expected total is over a million. To keep things challenging, I will try to keep my net costs below $1,000.

All points earned and expenses incurred are tracked via this Google Docs spreadsheet.

See all Million Mile Madness posts (in reverse order), by clicking here.

A quick start

On Friday, March 1, I signed up for 11 new credit cards in order to earn points from the signup bonuses.  While it took a number of reconsideration phone calls, the end result was that I was approved for 10 out of 11 cards.  The sign up bonuses from these cards will amount to 516,000 points & miles once I meet the minimum spend requirements (which I intend to do this month).

Meanwhile, I’ve been collecting points in other ways (“liking” things on Facebook, buying Free after Rebate items, etc.) and I’ve been tracking everything, including time spent, in the Google Docs spreadsheet.

Miles Per Hour

As a result of tracking points earned and hours spent, it is possible to calculate “Miles Per Hour” as the number of miles earned divided by the number of hours spent.  At the time of this writing, that comes to: 547,695 / 8 = 68,461 miles per hour.  At this rate, I should be done with the challenge by Friday!

Decelerating Rapidly

Credit card signup bonuses are the low-hanging fruit of this points & miles hobby.  Unless a huge point earning promotion suddenly appears, all other techniques will be significantly slower and more difficult.  I have to earn over 450,000 more points & miles before month end.  Can I do it?

Rough Calculations

In order to earn over 450,000 points by the end of the month, I would have to earn about 20,000 points per day.  Is that possible?

Free points come and go all the time: Sign up for this. “Like” that. Earn 300 points, 500 points, 1000 points. Sure, I’ll do those things, but they won’t add up quickly. I’ll be lucky to earn 10,000 points this way throughout the entire month.

Another option is to “manufacture” spend.  There are many tricks to run up credit or debit charges just to earn points (while getting most of your money back).  These are great techniques, but usually only result in one point per dollar spent.  I can’t realistically spend $20,000 per day for the rest of the month.  My credit limits wouldn’t allow it; and if I circumvent my limits by paying my balances off every day or two, the credit card companies’ fraud departments would be sure to come calling. 

I could, instead, take my new ThankYou Preferred card (once it arrives) to a few drug stores each day and buy $4000 worth of reload cards.  My ThankYou card earns 5X at drugstores this year, so that technique would earn 20,000 points per day.  But its not practical.  Stores will quickly run out of stock of reload cards.  And, as with other manufactured spend techniques, I would quickly hit my credit limit or risk being flagged (or flogged?) by Citi’s fraud department.  So, while reload cards will help, they are not the solution.

I think that my best option is to buy and sell merchandise.  Through double and triple dip techniques it is possible to earn 15 points per dollar or more at certain merchants.  The trick is to buy merchandise for 15X (or more) and sell it for as little loss as possible.  This way, its possible to essentially buy points very cheaply.  I’ve done this buy/sell approach many times in the past, but usually only during great portal promotions that don’t currently exist (e.g. 36X at Nordstroms, 15X at Sears, 150X at MyPoints, etc.).  Without those great promotions, I’ll have to try harder to find and buy products cheap enough to overcome the fees associated with selling merchandise.  It won’t be easy.

Good News

There are a couple of upcoming promotions that should help:

  • Kohl’s is offering 30% off all items to Kohl’s charge cardholders who use the coupon code SHOPNSAVE from March 6 (today) to March 17th.  Plus, customers will earn $10 Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent (redeemable March 11-30).  This combination means that I’ll be able to buy lots of stuff very cheaply and earn at least 10X via the Ultimate Rewards Mall (or 20X when I double dip with gift cards). Hat tip to Jeff the Wanderer.
  • Sears is running a Family & Friends sale for VIP members (which I am!) on Sunday March 10.  Customers can choose from coupons that save money or earn rewards.  For example, in the electronics category, one could choose between 15% in points or 5% off.  I think I’m much better off with the former since I could use the points to buy more things to sell.  Hopefully there will be some good sales that can be stacked with these coupons.  We’ll see.

 

Bad news

I was really hoping to see some great new shopping portal promotions this month, but so far nothing interesting has popped up.  You can read about the March specials (such as they are) in the Ultimate Rewards Mall in this Mommy Points post.  Worse, since March 1, Sears has dropped its payout.  Via the Ultimate Rewards Mall, Sears has dropped from 5X to 3X.  And, via the US Airways portal, Sears has dropped from 6X to 4X.  In the past, Sears has bounced back from drops like these after a few weeks.  Here’s to hoping that it will be even faster this time!

Hoping for more

When I look back at the past 14 months, I see that great deals appeared every couple of months:

Some of these deals were very short term.  They showed up and were available for a day or two and then they were gone.  It has now been almost six months since the last mega portal deal.  It’s time for a new one!  Please!

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

    • MileageUpdate: As I’m sure you know, there really is no problem clearing the racks with or without me! But, yes, if all else fails I’ll do more drug store shopping than planned 🙂
      Jay: Yes, in multiple experiements I’ve received points despite the T&C terms
      Shruti, nathaniel: I received a flyer in the mail yesterday. Maybe yours will arrive today? When I get home I’ll see if it has a generic code that I can share.
      jada135: They’re like cash. Load them into your PayPal account and then treat it like a bank account. Limit $4K per month.
      Gabriel: The ThankYou Preferred was one of the 11 cards I applied for on March 1. You have to use a special link to get the 5X offer. See my Best Credit Card Offers page and look for ThankYou Preferred

  1. A questions about that Kohls 10x plan. The T&R on Chase state that “Not eligible on Kohl’s credit card sales made with coupon codes that are higher than 15%”

    Have you had success receiving points using that 30% coupon?

  2. @FM, Even I am sears VIP member, but do not see anything about 15% off of electronics. Is this targeted one? Can you please provide the link if you do not mind?

  3. When did you acquire the TYP? I’m thinking about trying for it if they are still doing all those 5x promotions.

  4. Also curious about the friends family vip day link or coupon code. I am a platinum member and have not seen anything yet.

    • Gabriel: Thanks
      Heather: Yes, 6 in the last 6 months (more than that altogether).
      WishyAnand: Thanks for the WESHIPFREE code, that will be helpful! The extra trick is to buy Kohl’s gift cards (physical not e-gift cards) via the UR mall. In my experience, they do usually pay out points for this. Then, even though you pick the Kohl’s charge card as the form of payment, its OK to use enough gift cards to cover the whole order. The problem is that their physical gift cards take a while to arrive. So, it may be too late to do 20X with this particular 30% off deal.

  5. Just to clarity – did you have six inquiries before the big churn? I’m due to churn, but every bank with the exception of Barclay’s pulls Experian in Utah. I currently have 10 inquiries and was declined by Citibank last go around.

  6. Hey FM, I am a bit confused about the Kohl’s 20x points working when using the charge card to get the 30 percent off.

    I just placed an order via Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall for $85 before any discounts and assume I will get the 10x for sure. Then I paid with my Kohl’s charge card to get the 30 percent off the $85 total, using the SHOPNSAVE promo code (I assumed that this code would not work when paying with a credit card or gift card by buying one at an office supply store with Chase Ink).

    FYI — I also used another promo code WESHIPFREE for free shipping (since the online system allow two promo codes).

    See codes here:

    http://www.retailmenot.com/view/kohls.com

    Was I able to improve on this and get 20x too? Very happy with the deal as it is!

  7. According to my mailer, the Sears VIP event is in store all day Sunday March 10, but coupons available online from Saturday March 9, 8PM CST to Monday March 11, 7AM CT. I am only VIP Silver (lowest status) so all VIPs should be eligible. Online Code: MEMBERS (25%, 20%, or 15% in points) or SAVENOW (extra 15%, 10%, or 5% off).

    • HikerT: Thanks for listing the Sears info!
      Rajnish:
      25% in points for Appliances, floor care, clothing, accessories, … (the list goes on)
      20% in points for Intimates, cosmetics, footwear, watches, mattresses, housewares,… (the list goes on)
      15% in points for electronics & TVs 40″ or larger.

  8. Hey FM–I applied to the Citi 5x Gas/Grocery card on my latest 5 card churn, but they gave me an “automatic rejection” for having, in the words of the supervisor on the reconsideration line, “more than one inquiry in the last five days.” Thoughts? How did you get around this? I feel like this doesn’t usually happen.

  9. Office depot now has return of gift cards.

    Vanilla visa $200: $6.95
    Amex $200: $6.95

    For For $5000 ink plus, that’s 25 cards or $173.75 fees and 25,000 points earned.

  10. @webazoid: that’s 144x points, which is better than VR at 127x, but i imagine trying to liquidate those through AP would raise some flags…

    • That depends considerably on how much new credit is being applied for.
      @FrequentMiler: Are you willing to share your total credit limits on CCs before and after the App-O-Rama? I’m curious how much new credit you got versus credit that was reallocated.

  11. DJ: Same thing happened to me. I called two days later and they reopened the app and approved it.

    webazoid: Yes, they’ve had those $200 cards (and so does OfficeMax and Staples). They’re just not nearly as good of a deal as the $500 cards were.

    FliesAlot: I expect to get a 40 to 50 point hit (which will still keep me in the excellent range), but my scores should go back up in a few months.

    Brad: No, I’m not willing to do that.

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