Million Mile Madness Begins!

Background: Early in January, I introduced the idea of challenging myself (and anyone foolish enough to join me) to earn a million points in one month. So, starting March 1 (tomorrow!), I’ll do everything I can to earn as many points as I can while keeping within my ethical boundaries. As a reminder, 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. Oh, and to keep things challenging, I will try to keep my net costs below $1,000.

My credit churn

Tomorrow (Friday) is the day that I’ll apply for a ridiculous number of credit cards and we’ll see what happens.  Some think that this stunt will ruin my credit scores.  And, undoubtedly, my scores will go down temporarily.  If history is any guide, though, my scores should recover in a few months and potentially go higher than ever.

Currently, my scores look pretty good:

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I’ll keep an eye on my scores after the churn to see what happens, and I’ll keep you informed.

Ultimate Rewards Mall and other portals

In the past, the Ultimate Rewards Mall has run new promotions each month. Often several merchants would offer 10 points per dollar (or more) for purchases initiated through the mall. Unfortunately, in the last several months there hasn’t been much activity of this type, but we can still hope. Friday morning we’ll see if there are any great new promotions for March. If so, we’ll see what we can do to take maximum advantage. Of course, we’ll keep our eyes out for great offers from other portals as well.

My Preparations

Here are some things I’ve done to prepare for Million Mile Madness:

  • I signed up for a free month of credit monitoring from Equifax. Yes, I already subscribe to the free services CreditKarma and CreditSesame, but I figured that it made sense to increase coverage this month.
  • I downgraded my Sapphire Preferred Visa to a Freedom card. This sets me up to be able to sign up for the Sapphire Preferred MasterCard if I choose to. It also lets me take advantage of this quarter’s Freedom 5X categories. Note that a downgrade is a very simple process in which you keep your original card number.
  • I canceled my American Express SPG card to make room for new applications. This may not have been strictly necessary, but I figured that it couldn’t hurt. Before cancelling entirely, I asked that the credit line from the card be moved to another card (which was done).
  • I conducted a number of gift card experiments. For example, I tested the Home Improvement gift card to see what was possible with that. I also tested a number of options for buying gift cards online to see which ones resulted in point-earnings. See the comments section in the Frequent Miler Laboratory for the latest results (scroll to the bottom).
  • I prepared the Google Docs spreadsheet for tracking all points and expenses. See more below under “Reader Participation”.
  • I delayed paying some bills that were not due until March, as well as some big planned purchases. I won’t count these expenses against my $1000 budget, but I will use them to help meet minimum spend requirements on my new credit cards.
  • I passed on one of the best signup offers in recent times. In January, the American Express Platinum card offered 100,000 points as a signup bonus after only $3000 spend. I passed on it because I was afraid it would hurt my Million Mile Madness churn. This is a good example of why Million Mile Madness is truly crazy and a bad idea for most people. Anyway, luckily, my wife was able to sign up for this offer!

Reader Participation

If you’re brave and/or crazy enough to want to play along with this game, first consider the risks: if you’re not careful you could spiral into debt, damage your credit score, get targeted for a financial review, have credit card accounts closed against your will, etc. Please only do this if you understand the risks and how to avoid them.

If you still want to play along, here’s what to do:

  1. Make a copy of this Google docs spreadsheet.
    1. Open the spreadsheet.
    2. Select File… Make a Copy.
    3. Give the new file a distinctive name so that you can tell it apart from mine.
  2. Setup your copy to be viewable to all, but editable only by you.
    1. Click the “Share” button in the top, right corner.
    2. At the top is a link that can be used to share the document with others.
    3. Under the heading “Who has access,” click “Change…” and select “Anyone with the link”. Keep the access as “Anyone can view.”
  3. Send an email to me (frequentmiler at gmail.com) with the subject heading “MMM Participant”. In the body of the email, provide two pieces of info:
    1. The URL for your spreadsheet (the “Share” link)
    2. Your name or alias that you would like shown to the public

I will setup my spreadsheet to automatically show the summary information from each of your spreadsheets. Make sure not to include any personal identifiable information in the spreadsheet since it will be viewable to anyone who cares to look. If you have questions about the process, or about filling out your copy of the spreadsheet, email me and I’ll add the question and answer to the Q&A tab of my spreadsheet.

See you in March!

The excitement begins tomorrow! Follow me on Twitter where I’ll give updates as I go. I’ll also keep you up to date daily through these blog posts every weekday.

Previous Million Mile Madness posts include:

Last updated on November 13th, 2015

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 »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Robert
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Robert

Good luck!

Rick Ingersoll
Guest

Greg, please chronicle it for your presentation in Chicago this October and best of luck

mileswhore
Guest
mileswhore

So it is a sure thing that if you downgrade or close your sapphire preferred Visa and then get a Mastercard version, you will get the points? Chase is known to send letters after the minimum spend and tell people since they had the product already, they aren’t getting the points. On the other hand, I think Dans Deals has both or had one and then the other and got bonuses both times.

mileswhore
Guest
mileswhore

excellent 🙂

Jesson
Guest
Jesson

Don’t record cost of lunch since it is a regular expense, ha~~
All the best!

TravelBloggerBuzz
Guest

Good luck.

I just can not help but think of some folks who try to imitate you and then get in over their heads. I know this makes good content for your blog but, thinking bigger picture, so many people do not have the discipline to do what we do…

At least you are not going to bombard our eye sockets with affiliate links right? 😉

To mileswhore (love the name):

I had the SP Visa. Canceled it. Waited 5 1/2 months. Applied for SP MC at the mastercard website. Got 2nd bonus!

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Good luck too! Can’t wait to see the result!

Delta Points
Guest

Can not wait to tweet, blog, encourage and do all Delta Points can to make this the best month EVER for FM! I hope you make 2 million points (most of them Delta) 😉

Grant
Guest
Grant

Are you going to encourage everyone to get a Hawaiian Airlines card and transfer 35,000 miles to your master account. That would be interesting.

Michael W. Travels
Guest

Very interesting and mad idea. Looking forward to hearing about your results from all of this craziness! Good Luck.

webazoid
Guest
webazoid

i wonder….once u’ve applied for all those cards, would it be wise to freeze ur credit reports from all 3 beaurues so the cc companies can’t look u up and shut you down for too many apps open?

mileswhore
Guest
mileswhore

TravelBloggerBuzz:

Thanks – I don’t want to wait 5 1/2 months for another SP. I do want to have two Freedoms, however, and one SP.

grace
Guest

I can’t wait to see the results.

pas
Guest
pas

FM,
If I were you, I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight. 🙂

todd
Guest
todd

Can’t wait! Good luck

MileageUpdate
Guest

I wouldnt be concerned about people getting in over their head. At some point people have to be responsible for their own situation. You cant protect everyone all the time, especially from themselves.

Alan
Guest
Alan

Oh wow, you’re churning like 10 cards?
Good luck.

Elyse
Guest
Elyse

I just axed my SPG card that I’ve held on for almost 10 years! (wasn’t fully ready to cancel it, hoping they would offer some retention points or annual fee credit but none was proffered despite I’ve spent 150k+ in the past two years!). Any ideas when I can reapply for new bonus point?

Kinda kicking myself whether I was being too hasty….

Elyse
Guest
Elyse

Further to my comments above, my credit line was around $20k and I didn’t have an Amex charge card (only possess Gold and Platnum currently) to transfer the credit line to per your post. If I reapply for the SPG several months later, would there be any difficulty to reestablish that credit line amount?

greek2me
Guest
greek2me

And he’s off!
Good luck Greg. I’m making the over/under 1.5mm 🙂

Fishing4Deals
Guest

Most definitely insane!

Mark
Guest
Mark

How did you move your Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom. I asked them to do specifically that when I downgraded a few months ago and they said the only option was the Sapphire.

DaninSTL
Guest
DaninSTL

Good luck but….you may run into some uncharted territory and be shut down short of your goal. If you apply for too many AMEX cards they will catch up to you. You might also run into an available credit versus income issue with some of the harder cards IMHO.

I do like the idea of actively managing your credit files.

Chimmy
Guest
Chimmy

Good luck!

Sameer
Guest
Sameer

Where did you go to monitor your credit score and get all three bureau reports in such a cool fashion..

sorry if this sounds like a newbie question, but I am newbie to US and the game..

Sameer
Guest
Sameer

Where did you go to monitor your credit score and get all three bureau reports in such a cool fashion..
sorry if this sounds like a newbie question, but I am newbie to US and the game..

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sameer: I signed up for a free trial from Equifax.

Sameer
Guest
Sameer

Thanks.. sorry about the double post..

TravelSplash
Guest
TravelSplash

My scores are almost identical to yours – 792, 768, 787. Cannot understand why Experian is so much lower than Equifax and TransUnion. All the information on the reports looks the same and even inquiries are evenly spread out.

Shannon Titterington
Guest

I am not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic. I must spend a while learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent information I used to be searching for this information for my mission.

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[…] I reported in the post “Million Mile Madness Begins!,” I started the month with excellent credit scores (as reported by Equifax credit […]