First off I am an absolute amateur at this credit card game but I am learning and it is addicting. Yes, you have to have good credit to play. Yes, you have to be very disciplined and pay your balances weekly (at the very least monthly) to ensure you don’t fall behind and get in a world of trouble – but if you can do that you will be taking a free flight to somewhere in Europe for free next year. As I said the other night my wife and I will be flying to Italy on April 18th and returning April 29th to Chicago. For these two tickets we paid 80,000 frequent flier miles and $165 in airport taxes, fees, etc…. (you have to pay these no matter what – there is no getting around it). When I looked at the dollar cost for each of our tickets the total cost of two tickets would be $2,351.40. Therefore, using our miles saved us $2,186.40!!! Not bad, not bad at all.
You say you aren’t a frequent traveler or frequent flier in your day job well that may be true so how then do you go about making this or a similar flight a reality next year? Step right up and play the credit card game. Now, before we go further I must note that I am an American Airline flier and so I know how to game their system – other airlines may have better rates or deals but I’m not in the loop on those so I’ll have to defer to the experts (Frugal Travel Guy and The Points Guy).
As you may have heard – US Airways and American Airlines merged recently. For now both airlines are operating independently but I suspect in the next six months (or at least by the end of 2013) the merger will receive approval and they will become joined. Once that happens your airline points will be combined into one – American Airlines will remain the brand name so your miles will become AA Miles (again I can’t promise this but I can’t see them pissing off US Airways frequent fliers by slighting them off all their hard earned points). So here is how you can earn 65,000 miles just for spending $1,001 dollars in the first three months of having both cards:
1) Apply for and get approved for the US Airways Dividend Miles Card. This is one of the best cards on the market because you get 30,000 miles for making just $1 in purchases – are you kidding me? Of course there is an annual fee of $89 but for 30,000 miles I’ll pay the $90 – however, once your account is credited with the miles you should be able to close your account out before ever being hit with that fee but the miles should stay in your account. NOTE: They used to have a ‘Chairman’s Dividend Mile card that everyone was eligible for – this card waived the fee for the first year and gave 40,000 miles but since the merger I have read that this card is no longer active.
2) Apply for and get approved for the Citi Platinum AA Card. With this offer you earn 30,000 miles just for making $1,000 in purchases during a three month period. Here is where that discipline comes in handy – we all have revolving bills (Cable, Internet, Cell Phone, Electric, etc….) that can be paid with a credit card so you transfer all those bills over to this card. In addition you use this card at the grocery store, gas station, etc… and pay it off EVERY week as if it is cash and no doubt you will spend $1,000 in three months. Now unlike with the US Airways card the first year member fee is waived so you are essentially earning these miles for free – another bonus? Your checked luggage (one bag) will be free for you and up to four travel companions. NOTE: If you look hard enough online they sometimes offer 50,000 unadvertised offers with sign up/approval. They run these briefly a few times a year and if you can get that then you can take your trip (with a friend) for ‘free’
Anyways, it is as easy as that – once both airlines merge you should have no problem using your 60,000 miles to go someplace. Now, if you have a wife or a significant other – they can sign up for the same two cards and get the miles. Think you will have trouble spending $2,000/month for three months? Stagger the applications and then switch all the payments over to their card. It’s as easy as that – play the game! As easy as walking the Dog on a Sunday afternoon.
Photo of the Day – Sunday Stroll
I often hear people complain that they ‘can’t use their miles’ or ‘they aren’t convenient to use’ and I say they aren’t trying hard enough. I always use my miles during MileSAAver Anytime periods. In my humble opinion American Airlines is as loose as can be with their ‘anytime’ period. The off-peak dates for Europe (with some exceptions) run from October 15 – May 15. That is seven months of the calendar year that you can fly to Europe from anywhere in the Continental United States for 40,000 miles round trip (20,000 each way). Anyone who says – ‘I can’t use my miles’ is just not flexible enough. Would I prefer to go to Rome when it’s a little warmer – of course but not for the 60,000 – 200,000 miles its going to cost me round trip. Want to go to Japan from the Continental US? Off Peak – 50,000 miles round trip from October 1 – April 30th. That’s insane!
Here is a link to their mileage chart – if you’ve made it this far through this long post you might as well dream about where your miles can take you next year.