The Perfect Perpetual Point Machine, Part 1

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I began blogging as FrequentMiler with a goal of simplifying free travel. As a newbie to travel hacking I was amazed by the opportunities that existed, but also overwhelmed by the complexity. There seemed to be countless tips and tricks all of which required understanding arcane airline specific rules, hotel policies, credit card bonuses, and the like. It seemed to me that I could do a service by writing a dead-simple “how-to” blog targeted to those who don’t want to dig through mountains of Milepoint and FlyerTalk threads or read dozens of blogs a day.

Instead of making things simple, though, I think I’ve done the opposite. I’ve posted complex schemes for buying and selling gift cards, triple-dip shopping, and buying miles for less than a penny. I plan to get back to my original goal (soon, I promise!), but for now I’ve become obsessed with trying to find the perfect perpetual point machine. A perpetual point machine is a scheme in which, after a little push, points and/or miles are accrued over and over again, forever, with little or no additional work. I truly believe that the perfect perpetual point machine is out there. We just have to find it!

Actually, an awesome perpetual point machine already exists and is well known: credit card sign ups. Much has been written about the incredible signup offers that are readily available to people with good credit scores. Simply by applying for a handful of cards and meeting minimum spend requirements, you can earn thousands of dollars worth of travel rewards with very little effort! Every three or four months, you can apply for more cards and earn even more free travel. It’s simply amazing. If you’re not already taking advantage of some of these deals you should seriously consider it!

So, if there is already such a great perpetual point machine available, why am I looking for another? To me, this is a great game in which we win by earning huge amounts of points for very little effort or expense. Since the credit card machine is already so well known, playing that game only gets us to even ground with everyone else who is playing the same game. If we find a new machine, though, we’ll get ahead! In the end, hopefully, everyone will have fun along the way, and everyone will go home with the prize of free travel.

So, how about it? Do you want to help in the search for the perfect perpetual point machine? If so, here are some criteria to help us judge whether we’ve found it:

  1. The Perpetual Point Machine (PPM) may take effort and money to setup initially, but must not take much effort or money to keep it going.
  2. The PPM must be able to generate hundreds of thousands of points per year.
  3. The PPM must do no harm. In my earlier post “Perpetual Point Machine… Not!” I described a failed scheme to buy gift cards with gift cards and earn miles each time, indefinitely. The problem with that scheme is that, if it had worked, it would clearly harm the retailer who would have been responsible for buying all of those miles.
  4. The perfect PPM would also somehow do some good for the world, not just for the recipient of the points. Kiva loans are a great example of this, but the number of points that can be accrued annually is limited by the amount of money you have available to loan. For most people, this won’t come anywhere near the goal of achieving hundreds of thousands of points per year.

So that’s it. Did I miss any important criteria? Do you have any great ideas that qualify? I actually have an idea that might meet all of the criteria. Before I publish it, though, I want to try it out because I’m not really sure it will work. Once I’ve had time to try it out I’ll blog all about it. In the meantime, what are your ideas?

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