Million Mile Madness: Pending Success

772,000 points earned. 228,000 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.

Overview

What a crazy month this has been so far!  I started the month by applying for 11 credit cards in one day.  Ten cards were approved, which gave me a sign-up bonus total of 516,000 points!  Since then, I’ve been madly doing everything I can to earn as many points as I can.  The biggest hauls have been from shopping portal double dips (see “Million Mile Madness: buying, selling Kohl’s” and “Million Mile Madness: Banking on Lowe’s“). 

I’ve had an occasional setback (for example, see “Million Mile Madness: A setback from Sears“), but most efforts seem to be paying off.  On the downside, this challenge has been much more stressful than I ever imagined!  This month, I’ve rarely done anything but plan how I’ll earn the next 5K, 10K, 20K points.  I regularly make big bets on things that may or may not work.  I buy products that may or may not be easy to resell.  As exciting as this month is, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m looking forward to its end!  I feel like a marathon runner at the 15th mile marker.  I’ve made a huge amount of progress, but I also have a long way to go.

Successes

Its worth listing some of the things that were risky, but seem to be working so far:

Credit Card Sign Ups

When I signed up for 11 cards, I was sure that some would be denied.  The fact that only one was denied, and that it was for a measly 25K offer (the US Airways business card) is amazing!  Plus, thanks to all of the buying and selling I’ve been doing, I’ve met the minimum spend requirements on almost all 10 cards already!

Portal Shopping

I’ve made tremendous use of online shopping portals either to earn extra points or to get cash back to reduce my overall expenses.  Its common with shopping portals that purchases don’t always track appropriately.  In those cases it can be very difficult to get your expected points or cash back.  Amazingly, so far all of my purchases have tracked!  Every single purchase through TopCashBack has shown up as pending.  Through points-earning portals (mostly the Ultimate Rewards Mall), all expected points now show as pending for purchases made as late as March 10th.  It often takes 4 days to a week for pending points to appear, so I’m not too worried about the more recent ones.  Of course, it’s possible for venders to claw back points before they are fully paid out, but in my experience that’s very rare.  The fact that all points and cash back are pending is an awesome sign.

For those of you who have had worse luck with portals, please read through this post I wrote a year ago: How to ensure your portal points.  I still follow the advice listed there and it seems to work.  Also, for those (like me) who don’t like to wait for Chase to send an email about points earned, please see “Ultimate Rewards Mall: When and where do points post?

ThankYou 5X

One of the cards I signed up for was the Citi ThankYou Preferred card.  Personal Finance Digest had unearthed an offer in which the card earns 5 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores for 12 months (see this post).  Since receiving the card, its been my go-to card at each of those locations.  Yesterday I checked my account online and saw the ThankYou points I had earned to-date.  As expected (and hoped), I’ve earned 5 points per dollar on all of my purchases (since all purchases were gas, grocery and drug stores)!  Plus, I earned the promised 6K signup bonus.

Kohl’s 30% off

I did very well with Kohl’s recent sale in which Kohl’s charge card holders were able to save 30% off everything, and every $50 purchase earned $10 in Kohl’s cash.  I still have a huge amount of Kohl’s gift cards coming my way, so it was a huge relief to see that Kohl’s is running the sale again March 21 to 30!  Hat tip reader Vinh.  More details here.

An endless month

At this point, I’m feeling confident that I will make it to a million points this month, but there is still a lot to do.  I still need to earn an average of over 16000 points per day.  I still need to buy and sell a lot more merchandise.  And, for me, this won’t end March 31.  On that day, I’ll have hopefully secured over a million points, but I’m sure I will not have finished selling all of the things I bought.  Packages will still arrive at my door whereupon I’ll prepare and send the contents to Amazon.com’s Fulfillment by Amazon service.  And, for weeks afterwards, I’ll watch and wait as items are sold.  Occasionally I’ll tweak my asking price down to bump up sales or up to increase my profit.  And, sometimes I’ll have to deal with product returns.  No, when March is over, I won’t be done, but hopefully I’ll be a million points richer.

Learn about Million Mile Madness:

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

    • Mark: Thanks!
      brian: Once your statement closes, when you view your account online, you’ll see a box to the right that says “thank you … earned points… See details”. When you click to see details you won’t see line by line detail, but you’ll see base points earned and bonus points earned. In my case, the bonus points earned are 4 times the base points earned so I know I earned a total of 5X.
      Daniel C: Indeed

  1. I applied and received the Citi Thankyou Preferred card from your linked article (thanks!) and have been using it at groceries, gas and drugstores but unlike you I don’t see a running tally of TYP earned…when are these allotted? After first bill, up to the minute? Thanks!!

    • Zz: True
      DonT: She’s very supportive
      romsdeals: Ha!
      Jack: I don’t know. Maybe they synched it up with my other cards.
      Andrew in A2: Thanks! Yes, extended-family trip to NY, family trips to Europe & Australia.

  2. I’m pulling for you to reach that 1 M mile threshold. Any thoughts about what you plan to do with all of those miles, any desired flights or destinations?

  3. Thanks Daniel C for the info! I’m new using Citi thankyou points and plan on exploiting the 5% often…I did not see any limits for the 5% on gas, grocery and drugs for a year so I guess I’m aiming for the sky. Any experience with Citi TYP? thanks!

    • brian: The best use of TYP is to get a ThankYou Premier card which automatically makes the points worth 1.33 cents each towards airfare.
      frequent churner: wow!
      Grant: I’m planning an extended-family trip to NYC, as well as immediate-family trips to Europe & Australia.

  4. I’ve pretty nearly maxed out mine and my wife’s Amex pref card for the year so I thank citi points for pickin up the slack!

  5. Not sure if you said this before, but what plans do you have for the 1M points? Giveaways to your favorite readers??

  6. Any word on how others are doing, or did you end up alone in this endeavor?

    It looks like you have to run in sand for the last six miles of your marathon. Slower going. Good luck and congratulation so far.

    • Carl P: Only one other person setup the spreadsheet (as far as I know). He reports 214K earned so far.
      Robert: Hopefully some of the pulls from the same bank will get merged together after the fact.

  7. @Brian — AMEX has a MR card that gives 2x at groceries, can’t remember which one it is, with no limit on what you can earn. With UR churning on hiatus, time to stock up on MR and ThankYou points.

  8. Hi everyone, here’s my news in regards to CCs:)

    I applied for the following ones:
    – Amex Gold,
    – Amex Delta,
    – Barlcays US (40K!!! link from a recent email plus a business version),
    – Citi AA Amex and a business version with 50K as well as,
    – US Bank Carlson (both available) to begin with.

    The results are: both Amex approved (though Delta over the phone), US Bank takes time and no response yet, Citi Amex approved over the phone with 2K credit limit, though the business version needs a week or so?!
    Now Barclays regular was OK right away (40K miles confirmed!), however, a version for ‘business’ was declined due to number of recent applications.

    Indeed, I checked CreditKarma that shows me 8 recent inquiries/hard pulls. So I’d be getting barely 5 plastics out of 8.

  9. I have to say I didn’t believe you would be able to do it – I am super impressed, and can’t wait to see what your out of pocket will eventually be. What is your out of pocket so far?

    • eric: Thanks. My out of pocket so far is just an estimate based on a rough guess of how much money I’ll get back from selling items I’ve bought (or plan to buy). Based on those estimates, I’m currently down about $350 in cash and $200 in gift cards.

  10. The Citi 5x bonus seems pretty good until you visit their thank you points website and realize that the statement credits are at a 50% payout i.e. 2000 pts for $10. Does anyone have a strategy for using thank you points where you can monetize them rather than taking this deduct?

  11. TY points are most valuable if you spend money on airlines. If you buy airfare during the year, getting 5x TY is like having a 6.5 percent cashback card. I spend thousands on airfare each year, so 5x TY is great for me. Cash right in my pocket. My 5x citi card hasn’t closed yet, so I haven’t yet confirmed the 5x, but once it does, I may go all in with that card for so lng as dugstore VRs last. Taking the 3.95 fees into account, 10k per month in VRs is $586 in airfare. That’s a better deal to me than spending $79 for 60,000 Hilton.

    • Grado: The Freedom card offered 5X at drugstores this quarter (up to $1500). Also, I hope to get the $150 AA back by using the card to pay for taxes and fees when booking AA awards.
      Free Mile Traveler: Thanks. RomsDeals also wrote about that. I’m hesitant to do it though because I don’t like the risk of selling gift cards on EBay.

  12. One more question regarding citi AA $150 cash back with first AA purchase. Will you do that thru shopping portal or does it have to be flights? Thanks!

  13. FM- Did your bonus Thank You points actually make it to your Thank You account? There seems to be a glitch this month with bonus points not getting transferred by Citi to cardholders’ Thank You accounts.

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