Frequent Flyer Miles Game: Getting Started

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So, you’ve seen how my Mad Scientist Miles Husband has been able to create amazing international trips by collecting frequent flyer miles without flying.

“Sign me up!” you say.

Or “This has to be too good to be true.”

Well, yes, and no.

It is indeed possible.

In the last few years we’ve collected about seven million miles by spending the money we would spend anyway to keep our family of four going.  Trust me, we are not on a million dollar budget.

And we’ve traveled the world in luxury by cashing in these miles and spending only pennies on the dollar.

Beginner's guide to collecting frequent flyer miles without flying.

Beginner’s guide to collecting frequent flyer miles without flying.

The two magic words are, “credit cards.”

So, before we go any further, let me say, to play this game you need to have a decent credit score of around 700 or better. And you have to be the kind of person who pays off your credit card balance every month.  As wonderful as this game is, there are not enough miles to make up for ridiculous interest rates that build up when you carry a balance.

If this is you, then read on.


With our girls in Paris. Thanksgiving 2013.

With our girls in Paris. Thanksgiving 2013.

First EARNING Miles:

Start Dreaming!: Where you want to go in the world? Some people will want to cash in miles to visit Aunt Bessie in Tulsa. Nothing wrong with that. I bet Aunt Bessie is a lovely woman. However, your miles will give you the most value, take you on the most luxurious trips when you use them for international travel.

We took our family of four to South Africa for Christmas 2015. Flew Business Class. Tickets would've cost $36,000. MSMH paid $100 per person.

We took our family of four to South Africa for Christmas 2015. Flew Business Class. Tickets would’ve cost $36,000. MSMH paid $100 per person.

Break Up With Your Supposed Favorite Airline: Most people we know collect points for a single airline. Exclusive relationships are great, just not with airlines. You’re putting yourself at risk for your airline to devalue the points you are collecting before you can cash them in.  There’s a good chance your hometown airline is not the best way to get you to your dream destination. Also, many international airlines offer service and airplanes at a level of luxury you don’t see on US-based airlines.

Two Korean Air flight attendants create custom salad for MSMH as we fly First Class from Seoul to Atlanta.

Two Korean Air flight attendants create custom salad for MSMH as we fly First Class from Seoul to Atlanta.

This page will help you figure out which airline you should start targeting.

Sign Up For Loyalty Programs: Sign up with as many airline and hotel loyalty programs as you can. This is free and will give you greater flexibility in planning your next trip.

Bonus-palooza: It’s time to start looking for credit cards that offer sweet bonuses with initial minimum spend. Check out this Chase Sapphire card that instantly gives you 50,000 bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s about a $625 value that can be applied to a number of airlines and hotels. Even better-there is no annual fee for the first year.

This Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card will give you 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

This Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card will give you 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Break Up With Cash: Start putting every spend possible on your credit cards and make the dollars you spend earn you your dream vacation. Again, it’s really important you pay off your balances every month.

Etihad Airways makes up my bed in my own apartment in the sky as we fly First Class from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

Etihad Airways makes up my bed in my own Apartment in the sky as we fly First Class from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

Multiply Your Dollars Into Mega-Miles: It’s amazing what you can do by shopping online, getting to your favorite retailers with a couple extra clicks is one of the best ways to make the money you are spending work for you.  Look up the store at sites like CashbackMonitor.com. It will tell you instantly how to earn cash back &/or many multiples of miles simply by clicking to the store website through them. 2x, 3x, sometimes even 15x miles for every dollar you spend.

If you prefer to get cash back for your purchase and put that money toward your future travel, MSMH recommends BeFrugal.comTopCashBack.comebates.com and iconsumer.com.

MSMH’s record? Our dishwasher died the same week he needed new tires on his car. (Why do things always happen like that?) He took a $2,000 spend and turned it into 76,000 miles by making the most of online promotions for gift cards and clicking through portals.

We applied those 76,000 miles toward a romantic trip to Rome, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast.

We applied those 76,000 miles toward a romantic trip to Rome, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast.

Start Collecting

Start Learning: This is actually a fast-changing game. A deal that’s good today, might not be good tomorrow. One that pops up might get snatched up quickly.  It’s time to make watching some of the big sites that cover the miles game on a daily basis. One of the biggest is BoardingArea.com.

Better Yet, Take This Shortcut: Your eyes are already crossing. You don’t have time to read more websites on a daily basis. Let Mad Scientist Miles Husband do the heavy lift for you! Sign up for our weekly newsletter that will give you the basic scoop on what you need to know. If there is a screaming deal that just can’t wait until next week, he’ll update you on that, as well.

Now about BURNING Those Miles!

How are you going to get seats like these? Lufthansa Business Class to Munich.

How are you going to get seats like these? Lufthansa Business Class to Munich.

Have you tried to cash in frequent flyer miles lately? The airlines can make you feel like there are no seats available.

There are many tricks and turns to this part of the game, as well. We will be sharing those in upcoming emails and posts.

However, if you just can’t wait and need help booking tickets, Mad Scientist Miles Husband can help you out.  Reach out to him at MilesHusband@gmail.com.

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Frequent Flyer Miles Game: Getting Started

by DarynKagan time to read: 4 min
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