Million Mile Madness: My life as a point grabber

576,000 points earned. 424,000 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.

Weekend brownout

This weekend, beginning Friday morning, BoardingArea is planning to move to new servers.  Friday and Saturday, this blog will be readable, but comments will be disabled and I won’t be able to publish new posts.  The blog should be back to full working order by Sunday. In the meantime, if anything exciting comes up I’ll let you know via Twitter and Facebook (so make sure to follow and/or “like” me!)

Quick credit card update

So far, all of my new American Express and Chase cards have arrived (including my Freedom card which was a downgrade from my Sapphire Preferred), but I’m still waiting for Citibank, US Bank, and Barclaycard.

My time is spent…

What have I gotten myself into?!!  I’m going through each day with nothing on my mind except how to earn points, lots of points.  Aside from worrying about it, here are some specific things that I’ve been doing:

  • I “liked” Club Carlson and Virgin Elevate on Facebook: 1500 points.
  • I bought almost $1200 worth of Free after Rebate stuff from Staples: Almost 6000 points.
  • I bought $4000 worth of Home Improvement cards at Office Depot: 20,000 points.
  • I used those Home Improvement cards to buy $1800 worth of Sears and Lowes gift cards via the Ultimate Rewards Mall: Over 8500 points.
  • I bought $500 worth of Kohl’s gift cards via the Ultimate Rewards Mall: Over 5000 points.
  • I found a fantastic deal and bought over $2000 worth of stuff from Staples, which I then sent to Fulfillment by Amazon to sell.  From this deal I hope to earn cash (to fund other point earning activities this month) and over 11,000 points.
  • I’ve spent some time browsing online looking for resalable items from Sears, Kohl’s, Lowes, and elsewhere.  I’ve found a number of good options so now I need to pull the trigger as soon as some of those gift cards arrive.  And, I plan to buy more and more gift cards!

 

Reader suggestions

I’ve done all of the above point earning activities and more, but it’s not enough! I need to earn points more quickly to get to a million this month!  Do you have ideas?  Suggestions?  Comment below!

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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Jerry
Guest
Jerry

If you don’t mind sharing, what did you buy from staples for resale on Amazon? Will you also share what you end up buying from Sears, Kohls, Lowes, etc

FrequentMiler
Guest

Jerry: At Troy said, I won’t publish details until after I’ve sold the stuff. Not only don’t I want competition, but I also don’t want to get the unfair benefit of readers who might buy the stuff I’m selling.
Lively: In my (and other reader’s) experiments, physical gift cards bought from Kohl’s earn points via the UR Mall. YMMV
Troy: I plan (hope) to liquidate all of the gift cards through buy & sell techniques. Its true that I won’t see all of the money by the time I have to pay my credit card bills, but I should have enough savings to cover the difference.

Lively
Guest
Lively

I thought you only earned points when you USED the Kohl’s gift cards. You earn points for buying Kohl’s gift cards at Ultimate Rewards Mall?

Troy
Guest
Troy

@ jerry. No he wont share what he is buying until after he sells it. If he tells you then you and everyone else will buy it and give him competition when trying to sell it. Once he sells it you will have all the details.

What worries me is all the gift cards have to be paid for when the statement closes so your gunna have to have thousands laying around to float the money until you sell items or your just gunna use the cards for your own personal consumption in which these things have to paid for at some point.

DaninSTL
Guest
DaninSTL

You don’t mention the free La Quinta points or Asia miles promos going on. Not a lot but hey 300 or so points here and there might put you over the top. I wouldn’t waste much time on audience awards UNLESS you are buying tickets through that site which can add up.
http://boardingarea.com/pointmetotheplane/2013/03/01/free-points-1000-club-carlson-750-asia-miles-237-us-164-ua-131-aa-124-as-300-la-quinta/

FrequentMiler
Guest

DaninSTL: Thanks. Yeah, I should probably get those La Quinta miles. The problem is that my time is better spent searching for great buy/sell deals
Ollie: Good idea!
mrredskin: I found something that sold briefly at Staples for much less than the best available price via Amazon (or anywhere else I could find) so yes, I think I’ll make a profit here unless lots of other people got in on the same deal and start a price war.

Ollie
Guest
Ollie

Start your holiday shopping and purchase items at the stores with the highest extra points. You will need to do it anyway–might as well do it this month.

mrredskin
Guest
mrredskin

I’m curious about the Staples -> Amazon items myself. I don’t care WHAT the items are, I’m just wondering what his expected profit will be or if it will even be break-even.

The Deal Mommy
Guest

Hi Greg,
I sent you this one via twitter, but will add it here also. It’s good for at least a free $100 from Amazon: http://first2board.com/thedealmommy/blazing-hot-amazon-giving-20-rebate-on-kindle-accessory-gift-cards/

Nick @ PFDigest
Guest

Would you count anything earned by signing up for GreatBridgeGroup.com? Apparently they’ve started paying out. That’s an easy $60 for you for this month, which I suppose would count for 6,000 points.

Nick @ PFDigest
Guest

Also, I got some junk mail from Allstate Insurance yesterday–you can get miles by requesting an auto/home insurance quote.

greek2me
Guest
greek2me

You’re gonna need stuff that can scale given limited time and need 20k/day. Besides the portal double/triple dip merch buy/sell deals you are already doing, you should also focus on the financial deals like Fido, TD, BD, etc.

FrequentMiler
Guest

greek2me: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about TD, etc. but it seems like I’d have to commit a huge amount of money to get much out of those this month. Isn’t that true? I’m not sure I can swing that considering that I’ll already be floating lots of money for purchases not yet sold.
MileageUpdate: Of course
rxgeek: Good idea. Yes, I do belong to most of them, but there are a few I could add on
traveller: See this post: The Home Improvement Gift Card

MileageUpdate
Guest

VRs and MOs. You know the drill.

rxgeek
Guest
rxgeek

Do you already belong to every Rewards Network program? There are easy sign up bonus points.

traveller
Guest
traveller

which home improvement cards did you use to purchase Sears Gift Cards?

Matt
Guest
Matt

Where are you buying your Lowe’s gift cards?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Matt: I buy the Lowe’s gift cards from Lowes.com after going through the UR Mall. I pay with the Home Improvement gift card
Pamela T: Good idea
Steven: I’ll probably value Hilton at full, but I don’t see myself earning many so it probably doesn’t matter. For the Citi 5% I’m sure I’ll do at least $5K. Not sure beyond that.

Pamela T
Guest
Pamela T

Eat out a lot at restaurants that earn mileage, buy their gift cards.

Steven
Guest
Steven

Hi FM,

I didn’t see it mentioned what are you valuing your Hilton points intake as? 1/2 or full?

Steven
Guest
Steven

Also how big are you going to go each month on the Citi 5%?

David
Guest
David

When I click through the UR mall to Lowes or Kohls it says in the blue box “Not eligible on gift cards….”. Have you seen the 5x points come through for you?

FrequentMiler
Guest

David: In my experiments, I got points when buying physical gift cards from Kohls (despite the T&C), but not when I bought e-gift cards.
amod: See this post
Larry, Cd: It’s definitely a YMMV situation. Did you buy physical gift cards or e-gift cards?
Jack L: My intent is to buy stuff with the gift cards (and earn even more points that way by going through a portal first) and then sell the stuff to get most of my money back

amod
Guest
amod

what is a home improvement gift card ? i never saw that in my OD

Larry
Guest
Larry

I did not receive UR points for a Kohl’s gift card purchase in January, for whatever it’s worth. I know there are different reports on this.

Cd
Guest
Cd

I haven’t had luck with kohls gift cards with the UR mall either

Jack L
Guest
Jack L

FM, thanks for the updates, I really enjoy watching you tackle this. Can you please explain how you plan to dispose of the $4000 of Home Improvement/Sear’s/Lowe’s cards without impacting your self imposed $1000 limit? The spreadsheet indicates you plan to recoup all $4000. I’m missing something there. Thanks and good luck!

Vinh
Guest
Vinh

You guys have to buy the PHYSICAL kohls gift cards (which works with UR). The e-ones do not work.

FM, you may want to buy the Kohls e-gcs from Staples via CashBack so you can take advantage of the 30% off going on now. It takes Kohls like 7-10 business days to mail out the gift cards, and so you may miss the deal. There are lots of things you can sell for a profit right now. I’m hoping to amass 200K of UR via Kohls this month.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Vinh: Yep, I’ve been thinking the same thing. I went to buy e-gift cards first from Cardpool, but someone had cleared them out, so I went to Staples.com instead. I’ll do a mix of going through TCB and UR to get both extra points and cash back

Cameron Wilde
Guest
Cameron Wilde

If you haven’t filed your taxes yet ….

For a limited time only, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® and TurboTax® have teamed up to bring you a special offer where you can earn Rapid Rewards Points just for filing your taxes with TurboTax® Online. File your 2012 tax return with any TurboTax Online Federal product¹ by April 15, 2013 and earn 1,000 points. Get your maximum refund, guaranteed², plus Rapid Rewards Points!
We know how hard you’ve worked for your money, and TurboTax works just as hard to get back every single dollar you deserve. That’s why TurboTax is personalized to your unique situation and has tax experts, like Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Enrolled Agents (EAs), available by phone or live chat³, who can answer your tax questions if you need help.
To take advantage of this special offer, simply follow these steps:
Step 1: Click here or on the “Start TurboTax Now” button below, which will take you to Rapid Rewards Shopping℠.
Step 2: Log in to Rapid Rewards Shopping with your Rapid Rewards account information and click on the TurboTax offer.
Step 3: Complete your federal tax return with TurboTax Online by April 15, 2013.
It’s never been a better time to choose TurboTax; e-file today and get your fastest refund possible4! It’s your money; keep more of it with TurboTax. Complete your tax return today and get 1,000 Rapid Rewards Points!

Cameron Wilde
Guest
Cameron Wilde

There is also https://www.plink.com/index.cfm/main/homepage/refer/495747/aid/1264.

This is a new website that lets you get points for fulfilling offers on your credit card you already use. You can then redeem them for points:
Redeem points for airline miles for any of the following airlines/points programs: American Airlines Advantage, Frontier Early Returns, US Airways Dividend Miles, and Best Buy Reward Zone.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Cameron Wilde: Thanks for the turbotax suggestion! Unfortunately my taxes are pretty complicated this year so I’m going to an accountant. Hopefully he’ll take Kohls gift cards for payment 😉

As to plink, any ideas how to scale it up?

Cameron Wilde
Guest
Cameron Wilde

Unfortunately, I just found out about Plink and haven’t looked into scalability.

Larry
Guest
Larry

FM — I bought the e-gift card from Kohls. Next time I’ll do physical. Frankly, though, I didn’t see any great stuff worth buying. I’m not in the reselling game.

Valerie
Guest
Valerie

This might be targeted:
EARN 1,000 BONUS POINTS when you link your ThankYou® Rewards and Amazon.com accounts. Refer to the link on how to do and its T&C.

https://rewards.thankyou.com/b2r/merchandise/shopWithPoints.do?merchantId=AMZN

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

I’m trying to figure out your Lowe’s play. Let’s say you buy the Home Improvement card with Ink (5X) and then buy Lowe’s cards through the UR mall (5X). Can you then use the Lowe’s cards to go back through the UR mall (5X) to buy merchandise? Assuming you can, you’re at 15x. Maybe you stack another coupon to bring Lowe’s down another 10%. But you have to add back on sales tax. Am I warm? Are the margins good enough to buy at Lowe’s and then do Amazon fulfillment?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Valerie: thanks, I’ll try that tomorrow!
Piecerate: Yes,nyou have it exactly right. 15X if all goes well plus 10% off at Lowes. I’ll probably lose some money on the deal, but 15X is worth it.

Carol
Guest
Carol

Is there an easy way to find the FAR’s at Staples.com?

arye
Guest
arye

did you use your chase cc for part of the expenses on the lowes gc’s, or did you pay for it straight with the home improvement gc’s?

Dina
Guest
Dina

If you like wine you can buy 6 bottles for $42 and get 12500 club carlson. There are similar deals for aadvantage that I know of for fewer points

Marc
Guest
Marc

Just curious, on your chart where you have “Fullfillment by Amazon” are you putting what you expect to make from Amazon in the column titled “Expected Other Cash Back”?
If so, 2 questions. 1) are you figuring in amazon fees into that? and
2) you are assuming it sells?

Ken
Guest
Ken

@Dina – You earn 5,000 CC points with the first shipment and 7,500 for the second shipment. The second shipment is sold at their regular rate of $12-$15 per bottle plus shipping. That’s still 0.8c per point and you get some wine, but be sure to cancel before the second shipment.

greek2me
Guest
greek2me

@FM- yes, to take max advantage of TD, Fido, BD, etc you would have to lay out some big bucks and let it sit there awhile. But if you had 200k to park in a 2 yr CD at BD you could snag 200k AA in one fell swoop!

karen
Guest
karen

What is the highest points rate for sears.com through ultimate mall? I only see 3x.

FrequentMiler
Guest

karen: Through the Ultimate Rewards Mall you can only get 3X right now (it recently dropped from 5X). There is a short term special via the AAdvantage shopping portal for 6X.

SeanC
Guest
SeanC

UR Sears T&C says following.
-Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents as of 11/1/12.
Do you think you will get points for your gift card purchase from Sears using Home Improvement card?

FrequentMiler
Guest

SeanC: Yes, recent experiments have shown that you get points when buying physical gift cards at Sears. In fact, my points show up as pending already.