How I Made 1 Million Miles In The First 7 months Of 2011

  1. I signed up for free mileage accounts with all the major airlines. 
  2. I set up user names and passwords for the airlines I already had mileage numbers with.
  3. I set up an Award Wallet account to store all my information.
  4. I applied for the Citibank 75,000 American Airline mile personal card, as well as the business card.
  5. I applied for the 50,000 United mile Chase card in January.
  6. I applied for the 50,000 Continental mile Chase card in February. I was denied, so I called Chase’s reconsideration department at 1-888-245-0625. I had an old Amazon Visa that they closed to open up the Continental card.
  7. I applied for the 35,000 US Airways mile Barclays card in February.
  8. I applied for the 45,000 Virgin Atlantic mile Bank of America Amex card in March. I also received 2,500 miles for adding an additional user.
  9. I applied for the best card offer of the year so far (the 100,000 British Airways mile Chase card) in March. I was denied, so I called Chase’s reconsideration department from step 6. They took $5000 off of my Chase Freedom card’s credit limit and approved the British Airways card.
  10. I applied for the 50,000 point Hilton Amex card in April. I also received 2,500 points for adding an additional user.
  11. I applied for the 75,000 point Amex Premier Rewards card in April. These points turned into 112,500 British Airway miles.
  12. I earned 25,000 miles from opening a Citibank mileage checking account.
  13. I earned 12,000 miles from all the “smaller” promotions I’ve had posted on this blog (I try to delete all the expired ones). Trust me, these add up – 100 miles here, 200 miles there…next thing you know, you’re on a beach somewhere.
  14. I earned 5,000 Delta Skymiles from the Single Identity promotion.
  15. I earned 4,000 miles from dining out.
  16. I’ve earned 10,000 miles through Netflix.  I subscribe for 1 billing month, then cancel.  Then I change my address slightly (add a letter to the condo unit number) and apply with a different airline promotion.
  17. I’ve earned 45,000 American Airlines miles through using my BankDirect checking account. It was great until they limited the number of referrals.
  18. I earned 35,000 miles through the monthly spending on the my mileage cards. Most of these card offers have a minimum spend for you to earn the miles. I didn’t spend anything other than my normal monthly bills and expenses. I just put everything on credit cards (utilities, food, gas, bills).  One thing I did was call Citibank to close the card in step 4. They transferred me to the retention department who offered me 3 bonus miles for every dollar I spend for 3 months to keep me as a cardholder. That paid off nicely, with another 10,000 miles for me.  Also, I was buying $1000 in dollar coins every 10 days from the US Mint. Sad to see that one end.
  19. I earned 100,000 miles from the expired Capital One Venture promotion that was posted here. This was my favorite deal of them all, since it translated into a free $1500 in Ritz Carlton stays.
  20. In July, I applied for the Starwood Amex card (30,000 points).
  21. In July, I applied for the 2 Hawaiian cards (70,000 miles).
  22. In July, I applied for the Citibank Hilton card (50,000 points).
  23. In July, I applied for the Choice Hotel card (24,000 points).
  • If you’re new to the mileage game, you must keep all these accounts organized. Use Award Wallet and keep a credit card spreadsheet to track when annual fees will be billed. That way, you can cancel the cards a month before the annual fee is billed (if you choose). More likely, just make a phone call before the fee is billed, and they’ll waive the charge or give you a no-fee version of the same card.
  • I applied for an abnormal amount of credit cards because of the great offers that came up. For the last 15 years, I’ve been building up a great credit score through financial responsibility. If your credit score is not great, “churning” credit cards will be much more difficult. 
  • There are still so many cards I haven’t gotten yet – Hyatt, Southwest, Marriott, Amtrak, , Alaska, Delta, etc.  Even with all the applications above, I still take my time with this. There are no shortage of miles out there to be had, so you should try to go after the top offers first!
  • I’ve already saved you hours of research, but this hobby still takes a little effort and organization. If you put some energy into this, remember that you’ll be saving tens of thousands of dollars in travel.  Enjoy it! Check back often for the latest mileage deals…
milenerdHow I Made 1 Million Miles In The First 7 months Of 2011

My latest churn

To recap, I’d already collected the following credit cards (and bonuses) this year:

  • American Airlines personal (75,000 miles)
  • American Airlines business (75,000 miles)
  • British Airways (100,000 miles)
  • Continental (50,000 miles)
  • United (50,000 miles)
  • US Airways (35,000 miles)
  • Hilton (52,500 points)
  • Virgin (47,500 miles)
  • Amex Premier Rewards (112,500 British Air miles)
  • Capital One ($1500 in Ritz Carlton stays)
As I discussed here, applying for a new batch of cards every 91 days is the method I’ve been using. It was time for another round of applications (a “churn”), so here’s what I applied for:

  1. The American Express SPG card from yesterday’s post. It’s the “star” of this churn and my big target.
  2. The Hawaiian Airlines card through Bank of Hawaii (35,000 miles)
  3. The Hawaiian Airlines card through Bank of America (35,000 miles)
  4. The Southwest Airlines card through Chase (50,000 miles)
  5. The Hilton Honors card through Citibank (50,000 points)
  6. The Choice Rewards Hotel card through Barclays (24,000 points)
    All of these offers can be found on the credit card page here. Notice that every card I applied for was from a different bank. I find that’s the best way to do it (I don’t think anyone would advise you to apply for 3 Bank of America cards on the same day). So why did I apply for these specific cards? I’ve collected tons of airline miles this year, and I wanted to focus on getting more hotel points this time. The Hawaiian miles can be transferred to Hilton Honors at a 2 to 1 ratio, so the Southwest card was my only airline mile attempt. And the results of my churn were…
    1. Amex SPG card (Instant Approval)
    2. Hawaiian card through Bank of Hawaii (Approved)
    3. Hawaiian card through Bank of America (Approved)
    4. Southwest card through Chase (Not Approved)
    5. Hilton card through Citibank (Approved)
    6. Choice card through Barclays (Approved)
      Almost perfect this time. The Southwest card was my only rejection. Why? Too many Chase applications they say. I’ve already gotten 3 Chase cards this year and I’ve been pretty aggressive, so I’m going to take a little break from those guys (3 to 6 months). But no worries from me…I’ll take 5 out of 6 applications every time. This will also push me over the 1 million mile/point mark for 2011. Not bad!
      milenerdMy latest churn

      5000 American Airlines Miles For Energy Plus

      If you’re open to switching electric companies, click here.

      (TX, NY, CT, NJ, PA, MD and IL only)

      Edit: It looks like there’s a 10,000-mile offer here

      milenerd5000 American Airlines Miles For Energy Plus