Start Here

Welcome to Frequent Miler, where you’ll learn how to earn miles without flying.  Want to use miles to fly First Class around the world?  Yes, it can be done! I know it sounds like one of those “too good to be true” things, but it really works.  My family and I have been traveling in First Class for free (less taxes and fees) for years using the tricks explained in this blog.

The catch (and yes, there’s always a catch) is that it takes knowledge and organization to pull it off.  That’s where this blog can help!

3-steps-header3Ironically, traveling is not the best way to earn miles & points (but it doesn’t hurt!).  Credit card signup bonuses are the biggest and best opportunity for earning free points and miles.  For many, it’s easy to earn hundreds of thousands of points each year through signup bonuses!  Here’s how:

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Credit card issuers want your business and they’re willing to pay you for it in the form of huge credit card signup bonuses.

As you’ll see on my best credit card offers page, there are dozens of great bonuses out there.  A common practice is to regularly sign up for new cards, primarily for the signup bonuses.  And, couples can double points earnings by each signing up for the same cards.

Note that not all offers are the same. We work hard to keep the best credit card offers page up to date with the best offers available.

A year after signing up for a card, consider avoiding the annual fee by downgrading to a no-fee card, or by cancelling altogether.

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Most credit card signup bonuses have minimum spend requirements.  For example, a 50,000 mile signup bonus will typically require $3,000 in spend within 3 months of signing up.

Techniques for meeting spend requirements include using the new credit card for all purchases; using the credit card to pay monthly bills wherever credit cards are accepted; using the credit card to pay your rent, mortgage or other loans (often for a fee).  Once you learn those basics, you can read my daily blog for additional ways to increase credit card spend without going broke.

See more here: Increase credit card spend (and get most of it back). What still works?

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Once you’ve earned points and miles, you’ll want to use them for free travel.  With some loyalty programs, that’s easy.  With hotels for example, it’s usually the case that anytime there’s a standard room available for sale it’s also available to book with points, or with a free night certificate.Airline miles are both more complicated and potentially more rewarding.  Many airlines drastically limit availability of their cheapest “saver” awards.  If you want to plan the ultimate international getaway and you haven’t yet learned the ins and outs of booking award flights, consider using an award booking service.  They’ll charge a fee, but in many cases it can be well worth the price.

Caution

Caution!

There’s a reason that credit card companies are willing to give away points & miles.  They make a lot of money from interest and fees.  Interest and fee payments can quickly wipe out the benefits gained from signup bonuses.  The only way to come out ahead is to pay your credit card bills in full, every month.  If you can’t do that, then I highly recommend against signing up for new credit cards.

More Points & Miles
Signing up for new credit cards isn’t the only way to earn points & miles without flying.  A few options include:

  • Maximizing credit card category bonuses: Many credit cards offer extra points for certain categories of purchases (e.g. restaurants, travel, groceries, etc.).  It is often possible to shift spend towards those categories in order to earn far more points than you would otherwise.
  • Online shopping via portals: Online portals offer extra rewards for shopping that you would have done anyway.
  • Marketing promotions: Businesses often offer free bonus points or miles in order to attract your business.  Occasionally these offers are incredibly lucrative!

There are many other ways to earn points and miles without flying.  The best way to learn these techniques is to subscribe to this blog.

Getting Started

  1. Read our online tutorial to learn more about earning and using points & miles.
  2. Sign up for Award Wallet to keep track of your points & miles balances.
  3. Check your credit score.  As long as you have a score of 700 or more, you should be good to go (but please heed the caution, above).
  4. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of every credit card you signup for.  To help you get started, I created a sample Google Docs Spreadsheet (found here).  If you’d like to use it, open the spreadsheet, then make your own copy by clicking File… Make a Copy.
  5. Always find the best credit card offers on my Best Credit Card Offers page.  If you get an offer in the mail, though, compare it to my Best Offers page.  Sometimes targeted offers are better than anything else publicly available.

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Comments

  1. I must have dreamt this….but want to be sure before dismissing the notion. Does Marriott give credit for each hotel night even if staying on reward points at no charge?

  2. Thanks. I must have been confused. I appreciate your taking the time to respond. And I like your FrequentMiler site – thanks for maintaining it.

    • Robert smith: In most cases, it depends on the bank and in some cases it depends on the particular card. With Chase, supposedly you will never get the sign-up bonus again for the same product. Luckily, they change cards occasionally so that they’re considered a new product even if they have the same name. With Amex, you need to wait 366 days after canceling the card. With Citi, it depends on the card. FlyerTalk has lengthy forums about each card that is “churnable” (meaning you can apply over and over and get points each time).

  3. Just out of curiosity, I do not have a business but I am interested in obtaining the Chase Ink card just so that I may but reload AMEX cards from Home Depot. The 5x on office supply store sounds pretty amazing as long as I am able to purchase the gift cards. So my question is can i get that card without owning a business?

  4. Problem with Bluebird card is lack of security
    Balance can be cleaned out at any Walmart register or any other store by purchasing a candy bar and then seeing remaining balance on the receipt. Then make a purchase for the amount of the remaining balance and clean out the limits. No ID, pin or code required to make a purchase. Only recourse is to dispute the charge with the store. (good luck with that) Also one can not obtain cash back from Walmart. You can use Walmart ATM machine for the ATM charge of $2.95 to get some cash.

    • w s cook: Yes, prepaid cards are a bit riskier than credit cards, but I would trust Amex to make me whole if something happened (although it might take a while). If you find a moneypass ATM you can withdraw cash for free.

  5. Do you have any authority for Amex making one whole after a loss. This contradicts the written agreement.
    By phone they said to seek compenstion from the merchant that honored the card.

  6. I registered on the incorrest BA page and would like to register to claim my miles on a trip I had last year with the reference no.ZZZ8JB. Could you please assist me. Thank You. Kenau Mehl

  7. Hi! I am trying to liquidate the BF MC GCs I bought at the Walmart kiosk and it keeps getting denied. I tried to use a friendly cashier I know and he said it us going through as credit. Visa GCs work fine in either. Have you has this problem too ? How do I liquidate these. Thanks.

  8. FM, I’m baaaack. Haha.

    Anyway, just a quick update. Bought items on Kohls via UR portal using a 25% off coupon on 12/5 using 100% gift cards and full points posted on 12/9, so the new rules about “excludes orders using coupons not on site” doesn’t matter…yet.

    I’m about to test buying physical gift cards next.

  9. What is the best way to track your purchases on your different credit cards so you know when you have fulfilled the required limit to get your points? Don’t want to recreate the wheel. Thanks

  10. How about a post to get the best deal on flowers for Valentines Day. You could distinguish between good, better, best for the flowers types.

  11. I seem to suddenly be receiving 6 copies of each of your tweets. Is it me or on your end or do you get paid by the number of tweets you generate? 🙂

    • Something very weird is going on with my Twitter account. People who subscribe to mobile alerts are sometimes getting 6 alerts instead of one even though I only published one tweet. I have no idea how to stop it! I’ll contact Twitter for help.

  12. Is anyone else having issues with registering Redbird. I just got my hand on one and every time I tried to register at target.com/prepaid I get this message “We might be having technical problems. Please try again later or check our help section”. My state is not one of the states that are currently selling the Redbird so I am not sure if they recognize my connection is from outside of a state that is currently selling a Redbird.

    • I haven’t heard that from others. I doubt the problem has anything to do with which state you’re in. That might truly be having technical issues right now, or there might be a problem specifically with your account.

      • Thanks Greg. Ignore this blind dumass. I must’ve been blinded by the excitement cause I typed in target.com/prepaidcard instead of target.com/prepaidredcard multiple times. Must’ve been the 6 hour round trip drive to get it but I did get 3 of them.

  13. Thank you for the daily blogs. Can you please help write a blog how to combine travel miles earned from different credit cards, if that is possible?
    I have capitalone venture card and I earn 2 miles (fake) per each dollar spent. When I say fake, it is not really true miles but I can redeem to for any travel expenses at $2 per 100 miles earned.

    So I spend $100, I earn 200 miles which is equivalent to $2 if I am redeeming to travel expenses.

    But If I take another credit card for example Chase, is there a way I can combine travel miles from chase to travel miles from Capital.
    Can you please throw some light on this ?

  14. Hello,
    I frequently read your blog, and I am also surprised by the upcoming changes (whatever they are) to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program. I’ve created a Facebook page in an effort to put pressure on SWA to be more transparent, and perhaps even change their minds.

    Would you consider sharing this page with your readers? Thank you for your consideration.
    http://www.facebook.com/wherestheluv

  15. Nice blog

    Quick question: from which country you are from?

    And how does the mileage-earning potential in your country compares to the potential available in other major countries; on a 10-scale?

  16. Hi Greg,

    My wife and I have been following your (and a few others’) blogs for a little while before finally trying to emulate all of you frequent flyers. Our goal is simple– just to be able to take our family of four on a nice vacation once a year. Anyway, two months ago we were able to obtain 2 Target RBs and an Ink Plus. Since then, we have been pretty diligent in loading our RB with the VGCs we purchased from OD/OM & and paying most of our bills through RBs. So far, we’ve only accumulated about 100k UR points, but we thought these points would be good enough to make our cross country flight for four from SFO to ATL/Charleston, SC this July. But when we tried booking on the United, the website says we need at least 200k points. What did we do wrong? We thought we just needed 25k/person points to fly anywhere in the country. Can you help us?

    Also, can you shed some light on how we can MS more points? Our tolerance for risk is a bit low… 🙂

    Best,
    W & J

    • Here’s what happened:
      .
      Airlines like United have multiple tiers of awards. In this case, they have saver level awards (25K round trip) and standard awards (50K round trip). Saver awards can be difficult to find and can be nearly impossible with 4 people. Luckily, I think there may be a simple solution…
      .
      Have you looked into the paid price of the flights you want to take? With your Ink Plus, you can book flights through Ultimate Rewards travel at a 20% discount. So, if the flight prices are $350, for example, Chase will charge 28,000 points per person for the flight. Each person who books this way will also earn miles if you put their United MileagePlus # (or a partner airline’s number) in the reservation.
      .
      You could also mix and match. it may be that you’ll find 25K round trip award prices if you search for just 2 tickets. In that case, you could book two as awards and 2 as pay with points.

      • Thank you for the reply.

        Since UR also partners with SWA, we did a quick check on the route we wanted for our trip. It’s quite bit cheaper on SWA for it requires only ~110k points for our family. Per your suggestion to book the flights through UR so we can get the 20% discount as well as earning more points/miles, but for some reason, SWA did not show up as one of airline partners (in UR travel booking site). Did we miss something? Or that’s just the way it is– we have to transfer points to SWA first, then book the flight.

        We also noticed that on the SWA ticket booking page, it has a box for promotional code…Does that mean that if we somehow obtain a promotional code, we can lower the points required for a particular travel?

        Thank you again,
        W & J

        • Yes, for SWA you should transfer points to Southwest and then book using points. You’ll usually get around 1.5 cents per point value that way. Yes, if you have a promo code it may reduce the points price as well.

  17. Hi Greg,

    Thank you so much for the awesome posts. My husband and I found bussiness and first class award space available to fly directly from Chicago to Tokyo at the beginning of September, taking a nonstop flight. It costs 15k more to fly in first compared to business. Do you think it is worth it to pay the extra 15k per person one way to fly first? Neither of us have flown first or business before. There’s no award space for business or first on the way back, so we’ll fly economy. Thanks for any advice you may have!
    ~Elena

  18. Greg, thank you for your blog. You have a different take from the other bloggers and I appreciate your point of view.

    You created Delta Elite Status for both yourself and your wife now for a couple of years.

    My question (2 parts): Part A: If you have been spending over a quarter of million dollars on your Delta cards for a couple of years, have you ever been invited by AMEX for the Centurion card?

    Part B: If not contacted by Amex, have you ever contacted them, at least to see if the offer was available?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts/insights you may have.

    • A) No, I haven’t been invited to get the Centurion card
      B) No, I haven’t asked them about it. I’m not interested in the card. The Amex Platinum card (not the Delta one) is much cheaper and has most of the same benefits.

  19. HI! I signed up for the AMEX Skymiles card in mid-November, and the offer was for 50,000 miles if I spent $1000 in 3 months, which I did. Now when I’m trying to redeem, they tell me that I had to spend $2000. I found an article by Shawn Coomer dated Sept 3, 2015, frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2015/09/03/delta-skymiles-50k-sep-2015/ and it highlighted the Skymiles 50,000 bonus if you spend $1000 in the first 3 months. AMEX says I need to come up with literature showing the offer, or I’m out of luck. Do you have any of these advertising flyers that show this offer? Thanks for any help!

  20. Hi,
    I have a friend who just made the Latin PGA golf tour, of course he has to pay for everything. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction – I wanted to see if I could gather some airline lounge passes. What would be the easiest way to go about this? I have a few I am giving him, but just trying to help…..

    Thanks,Darlene

    • A number of credit cards offer lounge access as a benefit. If you knew which lounges he would likely need it would be easier to recommend something. It may also be possible to buy passes online (ebay, for example) at a discount

  21. Greg,

    Do you know if the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign up bonus has a lower minimum spend requirement if you sign up in a branch? I signed up for it two years ago and I was planning on doing it again this spring, but it required $1k less spend in-branch vs online at that time. I looked around on your website and on Chase’s website, but I could not find anything.

    Thanks,
    Tim

  22. I noticed that Nordstrom no longer appears on any of the major shopping portals . I contacted Cartera who runs the sites. They said it was a business decision of Nordstrom. Do you know if this is just temporary or possibly a worrisome trend that other stores may follow

    • My guess is that it is just Nordstrom and that they pulled out because of their generous return policies. I bet people were buying stuff through portals and then returning them in-store and keeping the portal rewards.

  23. HI Greg: I am also traveling to South Africa with my son. We are flying Qatar biz there and CX biz/first class on the return to SFO.

    Here’s my question–do you think it’s worth spending 140,000 Alaska miles to fly biz/first on the way out or 150 AA miles for Qatar? I’m thinking with AA miles devalued, it’s better to burn those first, plus we’d get to go through Doha (and maybe get the free tour on the layover). On the other hand–it’s CX first class (at least half the way). And AS miles are probably worth less today than they were yesterday (literally). I was hoping that last minute Emirates would open up for the AS miles, but obviously that plan is now shot . . . Would really appreciate your thinking. And love your blog.

    • If all else was equal, I’d definitely go with AA since AA miles are much easier to get. In this case, though, CX first would be a great experience so I’d probably do that. It’s really a tough decision between using the cheaper to get currency or getting a near best of the best experience.

  24. Can you tell me if it is possible to transfer points from the Starwood rewards program to the Hilton hotel rewards program; maybe by first transferring the Starwood points to an airline rewards program, and then transferring those airline miles into the Hilton hotel rewards program? Thanks for your comments,
    Freeman

    • It’s possible, but it’s usually not a good value. Good Starwood (SPG) hotels often are available for 10,000 to 12,000 points per night whereas similar Hilton hotels are usually 50,000 or more points per night.

      If you want to do it anyway, you can transfer SPG to Virgin Atlantic (20K points to 25K miles), and then Virgin Atlantic to Hilton at a 2 to 3 ratio. So, if you start with 20K SPG points, you should end up with 37,500 Hilton points.

  25. Hey Greg; love FrequentMiler; as a consultant, it really helped me starting out a year and a half ago, and just next week I’ll be taking a trip to Japan largely funded with miles.

    I just made BookWithMatrix, at https://bookwithmatrix.com, a web tool to make booking flights found on ITA Matrix a piece of cake. As expert flyers, we’d love your feedback on how can we make it better and see if you could possibly either feature it or link to it as a part of your article coauthored with Julian (http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2015/02/27/bet-you-didnt-know-using-hipmunk-to-book-ita-matrix-flights/). Let me know!

  26. Hey Greg, I need a way to contact you privately about a PPPM you may be interested in learning about. Please let me know the best way. Thanks.

  27. Morning Greg – you mentioned using a spread sheet to keep track of the information related to your many credit/charge accounts. Do you have a recommendation on a spread sheet we can use?

  28. I’ve been away from the MS spend game for a while and was never a heavy hitter. I still have a BlueBird account open with no issues. Everyone said it was dead and I just never looked back. From reading through your MS articles it appears BB is still an option but other places I’ve read suggest that any big MS will likely lead to shut down. Any thoughts on monthly limits to fly under the radar? Or would even $1k/mo from the same source/destination look fishy enough to get you shut down these days? Thanks.

  29. Hi Greg,
    My wife’s Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard bonus points didn’t post to her account when she earned them so we sent a secure message to Citibank asking why. They said it’s because her Citibusiness AAdvantage World Mastercard account was closed last October (less than 24 months ago). I took a quick look at Flyertalk but didn’t find anything there that that says closing an AAdvantage business card account like this will reset the 24 month clock for an AAdvantage consumer card. It’s been over 24 months since we closed her last AAdvantage consumer card. Is the CSR correct? Thanks

  30. I applied for an AMEX Everyday card but their website was not working properly. I applied again but somehow was approved for the AMEX Everday Preferred card which I did not want. I called AMEX and was told initially to apply for the Everyday card and when the Preferred card would come I should just cancel it. I immediately applied for the Everyday card as I was told to do and I was rejected. I called AMEX and was then told that two applications in the same family on the same day would be rejected. I was told to wait for the Preferred card and then cancel it and after that to call a reference number that the rep provided and the application for the Everyday card would be reviewed. I am concerned how all of this will effect my credit. Do you have any suggestions?
    Also if I decide to keep the Preferred card for one year can I apply for the regular Everday card while I still have the Preferre

    • I’d recommend that you at least keep the Preferred card long enough to meet minimum spend and earn the signup bonus (verify with Amex what the bonus is and what the requirements are). Then you can either:
      1. Downgrade to the non-preferred or
      2. Sign up new for the non-Preferred (so as to get another bonus), then cancel the Preferred once the non-Preferred is approved (this will keep your points alive)

      If you do option 1, you should get the annual fee back entirely or pro-rated depending upon when you downgrade.

      I like option 2 because it gets you two signup bonuses.

  31. I logged onto my United shopping portal for a Saks purchase a few minutes before midnight EST when the portal still showed 15 miles/dollar. I clicked the link and the website opened at 11:56 PM, but by the time I completed the purchase, it was 12:02. After the transaction was complete, I checked the portal and it was back down to 3x. In these instances, does the portal honor the 15x or 3x (ie, when the link was clicked vs when the purchase is complete)?

    • Log into your shopping.mileageplus.com account and look at your “store visits”. That will show you which day was recorded. As long as it shows the day in which the promo ran, you should be able to argue for the higher number of points even if they don’t award them automatically.

  32. Hello Greg,
    I have found very interesting your blog, but there are some nodes that I am trying to explain myself. I would like to follow some of your tendencies.

    I will appreciate if you help me answering 3 questions about this, all of them are related to each other.

    Do you keep a particular credit card without care about annual fees?
    How frequently do you cancel credit cards in order to avoid annual fees?
    is there a limit that you have put to the quantity of credit cards that you keep ?

    thanks in advance

    • 1) No. I only pay the annual fees if I decide that the card’s benefits outweigh those fees.
      2) With every card that has an annual fee, I reassess every 12 months. If it is not worth paying the annual fee, I’ll either cancel or downgrade to no-fee card.
      3) No. Between my wife and I we typically have about 30 open accounts at any given time, but there’s no hard rule.

  33. Hi Greg, great site!

    I’m new to accumulating rewards and, based on inital research, am interested in Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and SPG points. ( I am *not * a business traveller and so do not accumulate points that way). I do very little domestic travel at the moment but take 3-6 international trips a year from NY (Asia & Europe on Swiss, BA, Lufthasa, Jet and Singapore Airlines usually although I only just signed up for their mileage programmes). I used Amex Gold, and now Amex PRG (close to 100,000 MR soon with my signup bonus and spending) but would like a Chase Preferred/Reserve card as AMEX is not always accepted internationally. I hope to redeem earned points for premium international travel and hotel stays.

    Given that information and the fact that my annual credit card spend is currently between 20-30K a year would you recommend committing to *just* one programme to maximise rewards (MR, UR, SPG) or is it better to diversify among 2 or all 3?

    If it helps, both credit card spend and international travel will increase in 2018, and the cards I’m considering (apart from my current PRG) are AMEX Everyday Preferred/ Personal Platinum/ SPG, and Chase Reserve/Freedom/Unlimited. I am willing to cancel the PRG if necessary.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Any

    • Great question! If you don’t want to earn points through signup bonuses, then it does make sense to focus your spend within one transferable points currency. If you’re willing to sign up for several cards, for the points, then you might as well diversify. Both Chase and Amex have a number of cards that offer terrific category bonuses for spend. If you spend a lot on travel & dining, then I think you’d do very well with the Sapphire Reserve / Freedom Unlimited combo. If you spend a lot on gas and groceries, then I’d recommend you check out the Amex Everyday Preferred.

      If you decide to switch from Amex to Chase, you can get the no fee Amex Everyday card in order to keep your points alive and to preserve the ability to transfer those points to airline miles.

  34. Fantastic site! So, I have a Hyatt Free Night expiring on 11/30/2016 [yes, that’s tomorrow] and they are telling me since I check out on December 1st that I cannot use the free night. It’s a Chase night. I cannot find anything that states these expire the day before — since I would have to check in on the 29th for a certificate expiring on the 30th? Any ideas on next steps. Nothing to lose as they are telling me I cannot use this certificate at all now. Thanks!

    • I’d recommend sending a Direct Message via Twitter to Hyatt Concierge: @HyattConcierge
      They might be able to help. If nothing else, maybe they’d be willing to give you some points in exchange for the loss of the free night. It’s worth a try anyway.

    • I don’t think so. I believe that card only earns 3% when you make purchases online through eBates. Office Depot requires buying visa gift cards in-store. My guess is that even when eBates has an in-store offer for Office Depot that the eBates card will still only earn the base 1% (+ whatever the in-store offer is).

  35. I love this blog! I learn so much and it makes me feel so righteous! But I feel like an idiot and am so ashamed! This week I went in to Office Depot and bought a $300 Starbucks gift card to cash in Ink 5X Later I was looking at my account and realized I put it on my Sapphire. This idiotic moment means I urinated away 1200 free miles. I will ask for forgiveness this Sunday at services but I also ask this community to pray for me that I might rise out of stupidity next week! I haven’t felt this bad since I bought the wrong Vanilla Reload card and never would have learned if it wasn’t posted as a pic by Greg.

  36. Thanks for this info! Also, hotels will do a tier-status match. For example, if you’re diamond status at Hilton and desire a high comparable level at Marriott, the Marriott will honor your your tier status match request, with proof, of course. Then you’ll enjoy the benefits of both chains. Hyatt, will, as well!

  37. Greg,

    I’m a little new at all of this, but from past travels and recent CSR program, have a bit of points scattered here and there (probably 500k various places). Now that my wife and I are retired we plan to travel more.

    Is there a safe, reliable resource available that I can send them ALL of my points and cards info and they can advise me on what to keep, what to cancel, what to apply for and how to maybe consolidate points?

    Thanks. Lots of great info on this site, spending the day reading.

  38. Hey Greg,

    I just got approved for a Chase Sapphire Reserve (applied 12/29) and a Southwest Personal Premier (applied 12/31). I also applied for a Southwest Business card and was declined for “Too many requests for credit or opened accounts with us”. When I called the reconsideration line, the representative came back and forth 4 times to ask questions and verify information. I sat on that call 30+ minutes, thinking that they surely would approve me with everything they asked of me. He came back and told me that because the two accounts that they had given me were so new they could not grant me the business card at this time and kind of alluded to them wanting to see my account management and payment behavior first. I asked him if we could spread out the amount of credit they had granted me on the two cards to three to see if that would help. He said because it was a business product and the other two were personal, that was not an option. I asked him how long I should wait before I apply again, which he would not answer but told me to call Transunion for advice.

    How long do you think I should wait before I try again for the Southwest business card?

    • That’s very common to get denied for a 3rd Chase card when you apply for all 3 within a month. I’d recommend just waiting 31 days after your last Chase application and trying again. The offer is now up to 60K so it’s even better than before!

  39. Hi Greg,

    I’m having some difficulty in getting some additional miles on my American Advantage account so that I can complete the arrangements for 4 family tickets – flying back from Maui to LAX. I only need about 7,000 miles but can’t find a quick way to do it. I have a number of other accounts with miles for flights, but don’t know how to get those miles into my American account. With this little bit of information, can you provide an possible solutions for transferring miles. I have SPG and Marriott points, Hilton pts, United miles, Alaska Air miles, Amer Exp Delta miles and a few others but can’y find a “good” way to do it.

  40. I know that with Marriott if I don’t have enough points in my account, I can combine at the time of booking Marriott points from my wife’s account. I also know that Starwood allows you to transfer points between husband and wife anytime. Can a work around to transferring her Marriott points to me without a booking be to first transfer my wife’s Marriott points to Starwood, then transfer her Starwood points to me. I have Platinum status and she is Gold.

  41. Hey Greg, was going through some old posts of yours about Million mile madness (MMM). Questions about your reselling strategy, did you already have an existing amazon seller account before you started MMM or did you create it specifically for MMM. Was your amazon account a professional or individual account? What research tools did you use to see if an item would sell or not? Amazon requires approval for quite a few categories, how soon were you able to get approvals when required?

    • I think I already had a seller account from a previous deal, but I upgraded it to a professional account for a couple of months during MMM. I didn’t use any special tools. I just tried to find things with high sales ranks. Amazon had far fewer restrictions at the time for resellers. I don’t remember having to request any approvals. My basic approach was that when I saw something I thought would be worth buying and selling, I would go to my Amazon seller account and try to add a “new” listing for that item. If I could, I would go ahead and buy the item. If I couldn’t, then I wouldn’t.

  42. I m planning a trip from LAX to Bangkok next thanksgiving. With United I can get a one way business award for 80,000 points. However when I tried to do it through CSR Ultimate Points for the exact same date/class the lowest that came up was over 140,000 (Turkish airlines) all the way up to 389,000 points (United). Any idea why this is happening. I thought with CSR there was a 25% bonus when using points.

    • When you purchase tickets through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, the number of points you pay is based on the ticket price, not the award price. In your case, the thing to do is to make sure that the 80,000 mile business award is still available. If so, transfer the points you need from Ultimate Rewards to United (transfers are free and instantaneous), then book the award flight from United.com.

  43. Your old style credit card links were the best. Bring back the old style. Probably applied for 30 cards through your old links. Your new links are terrible to navigate. I used million miles now as that blogger has links similar to your old style. Why did you change? New style not good for experienced mile and pointers. Just a comment in case you have seen numbers drop

    • Thanks for your feedback. It’s definitely a top priority for me to have the best best offers page on the internet. The Best Offers page is enhanced fairly regularly, so I’m not sure what you mean by old style vs. new style. I suspect, though, that you found an entirely different page that I’ve now titled “Featured Offers” which is just a bunch of affiliate links to credit cards dot com. I’ve had to add that page as a way to get affiliate revenue for banks where I don’t have direct affiliate links. But you don’t have to visit that page at all. Hopefully the existing Best Offers page is what you were looking for: http://fm.creditcard

  44. Totally new at this. I have 140,638 UR points. I want to take advantage of IAD to Dublin in late May on Aer Lingus using Avios their new “miles chart” coming in at 26000 points for round trip. So I have never transferred miles before. Do I just create a British Airways account and move the points that way? I live in Maryland so I don’t have an UK address. Then I find the flight I want –
    Departing Fri, May 26 10:25 pm Washington, DC, US (IAD – Dulles)
    Arriving Sat, May 27 10:25 am Dublin, IE (DUB)
    – How do I absolutely confirm this is an award flight? Once confirmed do I then just call BA to book?
    Thanks in advance for any help!! Super excited about this trip!

    • Finding bookable partner award space with Aer Lingus can be a bit tricky. You can try using United.com, while they’re still partners, to search for an IAD-DUB award and see if Aer Lingus comes up (if it does, you can ignore the mileage prices). If so, then:

      1) Create a BA account
      2) Log into your Chase account and transfer the smallest number of Ultimate Rewards points allowed to BA (I think its 1000), to make sure you have it all set up correctly. The transfer is not reversible.
      3) Call BA and ask if the flight is bookable
      4) If Yes, transfer the rest of the needed points while the phone agent is still on the phone (it should be nearly instant)
      5) Book it

  45. May have missed out on use of our Ultimate Rewards, but checking with more experienced travelers. Apologies if this isn’t appropriate to ask about here, but this is the situation: husband bought United ticket 11/13 to fly out of country through Expedia. Forgot to check our accumulated Ultimate Reward points which were there to cover cost of this trip on United. Flight was 1/9 to 1/13. Is there a statement credit option after the fact that he should inquire about with Expedia or United, or has this plane already left the hanger? Is using Expedia for purchase the obstacle? Any advice is most welcome.

    • You can use Ultimate Rewards as statement credits to offset the flight, but you’ll get far less value that way. When you redeem points in that way, they’re worth only 1 cent each (vs. 1.25 cents towards travel w the Sapphire Preferred, or 1.5 cents towards travel w the Sapphire Reserve). And sometimes you can get much more value than that by transferring points to United in order to book an award flight rather than a paid flight.

      So, it’s too late in this case to get better value, but it is still possible to get 1 cent per point value by redeeming for statement credits.

  46. I have over 75,000 miles with United. How do I use these miles towards flights with their partner airlines to get a better class. Every time I select use points the partner airlines disappear. Is there a way to do this?

    • Are you clicking the box to “Search for Award Travel”?
      When you do, it will show both United flights and partner flights. The difference is that United flights will show up even if saver awards aren’t available (since they usually have very high priced “standard” awards available). But partner flights ONLY display if saver awards are available.

      • Thanks Greg. Sorry it took so long for me to reply. I’ve been doing a lot of fact finding. I was sidetracked by all the information. Thanks for your timely response. I appreciate the that and the help! I went back as you said and figured it out. Thanks again.

  47. Does hotel chain status obtained through having credit card count as the starting point towards reaching the NEXT level of elite status?

    For example, I am SPG Gold by virtue of having the Amex Platinum card. SPG Gold requires 10 stays, while Platinum requires 25 stays. Does this mean I need only 15 more stays to reach Platinum? I assume not, since if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    • Your assumption is correct: status obtained from having a credit card does NOT count as a starting point towards the next level of status. The only exceptions are where credit cards explicitly offer elite nights or stays (for example, Marriott Premier Rewards cards offer 15 nights towards elite status).

      That said, in your case there is a way to use Gold status to get to Platinum:
      1. Link your SPG account to your Marriott account. That will give you Marriott Gold status
      2. Call Marriott and request a Platinum challenge (requires Gold status to get the challenge). If accepted you’ll either be required to complete 9 stays or 18 nights (you should be able to switch from one to the other) in 3-4 months.
      3. Once you complete the challenge, you’ll have Marriott Platinum and that will automatically give you SPG Platinum.

      Of course the above plan actually requires staying at Marriott hotels for the challenge rather than SPG hotels.

  48. I don’t understand. How can you avoid the annual fee when they make you pay it on the first bill you receive? My ink+ put the $95 AF on my first months bill and told me all of their cards are done the same way.

    • Many offers waive the first year annual fee (including Ink if you sign up in-branch). But, even if you pay the first year annual fee, that’s usually a good deal if you consider the value of the signup bonus you get in exchange. The real goal is to avoid future annual fees if you don’t value the card beyond the signup bonus. So, after 12 months, consider product changing to a no-fee card or cancelling. You can also try your luck at calling to cancel to see if they’ll waive the annual fee or give you other perks to make it worth paying it.

  49. Hi, ive been following you for a while and have put together some good trips to disney and hawaii using a combination of points and cash…thanks for all the advice. My wife and I are thinking about starting cruising, but i cant find any info from the couple of bloggers i follow. As far as rewards, status, and awards for cruises go, do you have any advice on where to begin?

    • I don’t have first hand experience with this, but this may help get you started:

      1. If you have the Sapphire Reserve card, then points can be used for 1.5 cents each towards booking a cruise (you can pay the rest with credit card if you don’t have enough points, and you’ll earn 3X with the Sapphire Reserve when doing so).

      2. Amex Platinum cardholders get some benefits on cruises (even if you don’t pay with the Amex card). If you’re a cardholder you can get more detail by logging into your account and clicking the Benefits tab

      • Thanks for the reply, Greg! I have both of those cards (of course!), and I appreciate you reminding me of such benefits. This gives me a place to start.

  50. I am wondering if you could share some ideas or experience about IRS Tax Report for miles earning, and buy and sell game. I think many milers have the same question or some didn’t even realize this could be a problem.

    • In most cases airline miles aren’t taxed. If you earn miles from credit card signup bonuses, credit card spend, flying, shopping portals, etc., you won’t be taxed for those miles. You may be taxed (but I haven’t actually seen it happen) if you earn the miles by referring friends, or by signing up for a bank bonus (which does sometimes happen)

        • It is legal, but it is also against the terms of most if not all points & miles programs. If you do it anyway, then yes I believe you should pay taxes on your earnings, but you should really check with tax professional about that.

  51. I am Marriott Gold Elite – now linked to SPG Gold. With Marriott I can usually get a room upgrade and access to the executive lounge (if they have one). When I looked at SPG Gold they talk about a room upgrade but no executive lounge access unless your Platinum. Seems like they are downgrading the benefit and wonder what they will do when they have their full merger. Has anyone tried to get SPG lounge access as a Marriott Gold?

    • They aren’t downgrading the benefit — SPG is just a separate program that has never had lounge access for Gold members. Ritz-Carlton does not have lounge access for any elite members — not even Platinum members (everyone needs to pay for access).

      At the moment, status is reciprocal — meaning that you can match your Marriott Gold status to both Ritz-Carlton Gold and SPG Gold — but the programs are still separate (meaning that you are only entitled to the benefits of the program in which the hotel participates). You can’t use the benefits of one program in another program — you can only match status levels.

      In other words, if you are Marriott Platinum, you can match that to Starwood Platinum and you would have lounge access in the hotels within both brands. You could also match to Ritz-Carlton Platinum, but you will not get lounge access at a Ritz-Carlton as their program doesn’t offer it.

      We don’t yet know what the program will look like when Marriott combines all three. If I were purely guessing, I would think that the lounge access benefit will be limited to certain brands. But we just don’t know.

      Note: One of the benefits of the Amex SPG business card is lounge access at Sheratons. We don’t know what will happen with that post-merger, but it’s a way to get lounge access at Sheraton hotels in the short term (even without any status at all).

  52. Hi Greg,
    I have been following your blog for the last few months and have learned a lot and enjoy reading your posts. I wanted to ask advise on couple different things if it is possible.
    I have the chase sapphire reserve card, sapphire preferred, freedom and the ink business and the capital one venture and I have around 320k UR points. I use the reserve and ink card for my day to day purchase and of course for the bonus categories like travel and food and use the freedom for the bonus in rotating category. I put around 4K a month on my credit cards. Can you please tell me what other cards might be good for my portfolio? I was thinking of downgrading the preferred and also closing the venture account and re-applying for the venture card? It will be two years in October that I had applied the preferred card, so can I re-apply for that card again?
    Lastly I want to go to Hawaii from the east coast. I live in Philly. I was trying to take advantage of the 25k Korean air points. However I think from Philly it might be tough so I am searching from New York JFK.
    Someone told me that I can directly search on the Korean air website but whenever I do that I am not successful. The person that told me to use Korean air site said that he was successful doing it. Can you please advise me how I can look for this? Perhaps look in Alaska air website for delta awards. I really appreciate if you can help me with this.
    Thank you,
    Ari

    • Hi Ari,

      You have a great collection of cards for earning Ultimate Rewards points. I’d recommend product changing the Preferred to the no-fee Freedom Unlimited so that you have a great card for non-bonused spend (1.5X everywhere). And then, yes, cancel or downgrade the Venture card since the Freedom Unlimited / Sapphire Reserve combo is more powerful.

      As a general strategy, I’d argue that you should then keep that collection of Ultimate Rewards cards as your primary go-to cards. Then, also come up with a plan for earning points and miles through credit card signup bonuses. When working on minimum spend requirements for a new card, you would use that card rather than your Chase collection.

      If you have fewer than 5 new cards in the past 24 months, then yes you can signup for the Sapphire Preferred again to get a new bonus on that card. Also see my Best Offers page for many other great options. If you don’t already have the SPG personal and business cards, this is the time to get them! http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/best-credit-card-sign-up-offers/#AmexHotels

      I’ll answer your Hawaii question separately

    • The trick for booking Korean air is to find saver level Delta awards. There are a few ways you can do that:
      1A. Search for awards on Delta.com. The hard part there is that you have to somehow know what the saver level price is despite the fact that Delta no longer publishes an award chart. But Travel Is Free shows that one-way economy to Hawaii is 22.5K (22,500 miles). So, you want to find round-trip award space on Delta.com where the round trip is 45,000 miles.
      1B. Search for awards on alaskaair.com and look only for Delta flights. The problem with this approach is that Alaska and Delta soon won’t be partners anymore, so this will stop working.
      1C. Search for awards on Air France’s website. Only saver level awards will show up.

      Once you find saver level flights, then you can go to the Korean Air website and put in the same dates and the flights should show up.

  53. Greg,
    A question about using Chase points…
    If I book an SPG property (or any other property for that matter) using my Chase points, will I be able to get the loyalty points the same way as if I had booked and paid for the property myself using “real” money?
    Thanks
    Patrick

    • No. When you book hotels through Amex, Citi, or Chase and pay with points (or with cash for that matter), it is the same as booking through other OTAs (online travel agencies) like Expedia or Hotels.com. When you book through OTAs, you do not earn hotel loyalty points for your stay.

  54. Dont know if its been mentioned, but I was in Stop and Shop earlier today and noticed a sign saying they now accept credit cards towards amex, visa and mc gift card purchases.

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