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A Real Example Of How To Earn 115,000 Miles

How To Earn 115,000 Miles

This past month, my Parents told me they needed some new credit cards because they have some large purchases coming up.

Since I’ve been doing this credit card game for a while now and I manage all the miles for my family, over the years I’ve basically signed them up for almost all the “big offers”. This means that there is a smaller pool of cards to pick from for every new round of credit card applications .

One thing that has been really helpful in managing this process is that last year I finally started tracking all the open / closed cards my family has via this spreadsheet. So instead of guessing when my Mom last had the Hyatt card, I can simply now just check the spreadsheet.

Normally I wouldn’t share “mundane” posts like how I signed my Parents up for some basic credit cards but the reason I am writing about this is because I forgot how easy it is to earn miles…

Not Rocket Science

Whenever I meet new people, they always ask what I do for a living, so of course I tell them about FFU and how to earn miles etc. From those experiences and the reader questions I get, I think there is a general sense that earning miles via credit cards is extremely difficult and takes some sort of rocket science.

So I am sharing my “mundane” experience about how I signed my Parents up for a couple credit cards and earned them 115,000 miles, so when random people stumble across this blog, they realize that anyone can do this and there isn’t any rocket science involved.

3 Cards = 115,000 Miles

As I stated earlier, my Parents have already had most of the “big” cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Starwood, etc.

Their upcoming large purchases total around $4,000, so I didn’t want to sign them up for any cards with a large minimum spend requirement that would require them to do any manufactured spend (ie. more work for me).

After taking a look at my spreadsheet, I opted to sign them both up for the following cards.

  • Citi American Airlines – 50,000 AA miles after $3,000 minimum spend in 3 months
  • US Airways Mastercard – 40,000 miles after 1st purchase
  • Alaska Airlines – 25,000 miles after $1,000 in 3 months. Plus $100 statement credit.

The total haul for each person will be 115,000 miles after completing $4,000 in minimum spend!

The Cards & My Rationale

1. Citi American Airlines – 50,000 miles

Link To Application

This offer is pretty standard at 50,000 miles for $3,000 minimum spend but because AA has now merged with US Airways, these AA miles are becoming increasingly valuable as the OneWorld route network expands.

To make matters even better, the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year!

By signing up each of my Parents for this AA card and by completing the $6,000 total minimum spend, they will earn a total  of 100,000 miles!

2. US Airways – 40,000 miles

Link To Application

There certainly have been better US Air offers in the past but it is honestly surprising that this card is still available given the US Air / AA merger is complete.

Not only is there no minimum spend on this card but you can get it more than once…

I’ve signed my Parents up for this card in the past, so I went ahead and got them each another one. Once they spend $1 on the card, they will get 40,000 miles!

While the $89 annual fee is not waived for this card, it is a small price to pay for 40,000 miles.

Also since these miles will eventually be converted into AA miles later this year, it is an easy way to proactively stock up.

3. Alaska Airlines – 25,000 miles + $100 statement credit

Link To Application

This isn’t a card that most people even consider because unless you live on the West Coast, you probably would never fly Alaska.

While that is definitely true, since Alaska isn’t part of any alliance, they have crafted one of the best airline partnerships out there.

So even if you never plan to fly Alaska, you could potentially redeem your 25,000 Alaska miles for a free flight on Delta, AA, British Airways, Emirates, etc. Full list of partners is here.

While the $75 annual fee isn’t waived, I was able to find an offer that gives a $100 statement credit. So if you were to get this card, you are actually making $25…

As for the $1,000 minimum spend, since I have Amazon Payment accounts for both my Parents, I am just going to use those to complete the minimum spend for them.


Having to sign my Parents up for normal credit cards and not having to do any of the two-browser tricks or creating an eBay business to get a business credit card, was a refreshing reminder of HOW EASY IT IS TO EARN MILES!

These banks are literally giving miles away or in some cases paying you $25 to take their miles.

3 credit card sign ups each netted my Parents 115,000 miles for around $64 ($89 + $75 – $100 statement credit) and $4,000 in minimum spend each.

If they go to India in the next few years, then those 115,000 miles + the miles from minimum spend is almost enough for a free Business Class ticket! Even if they were to redeem those 115,000 miles for just domestic economy travel, they would get probably 5 free trips worth upwards of $1,500 total!

Not bad for 30 minutes of work on my end!

Basically, if you are new to earning miles or this site, hopefully my Parents experience showcases that it is in fact possible to earn quite a few free miles / free trips with a minimal amount of work.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me!


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    1. As I explained in the post, I have already signed up my Parents for almost all of the “big” offers out there. There are “rookie” choices but that is the point. Was looking for low minimum spend and high points.

  1. I have a spreadsheet pretty similiar. I assume the “FREE NIGHTS” column equates to my “ANNIVERSARY BONUS” column.

    I also have a column for last use. There are some I like to be sure I at least use once in a while.

    1. Yeah I mean everyone’s spreadsheet is different. It is just a better way to track instead of guessing.

  2. I think he wanted to avoid the $89 annual fee which is not waived on the 40K US DM offer.

    My main issue with the post is you end up with random mileage balances (30-50K) that don’t quite get too much on their own. US doesn’t allow one-way awards. I would replace the AS card with an SPG card b/c at least that transfers to both AA and US miles, or you can use the pts for hotel stays…better shot at accumulating 90-120K miles in each account where you can get a Business ticket.

    I recommend to newcomers to try and get cards in the same transfer family: Chase UR, UA and Hyatt, or SPG, AA, US, etc. AMEX MR/SPG, BA, AC, etc. Normal people ($1-2K/month CC spend) don’t spend enough to really get something good out of the deal, even after 2-3 years.

    1. @David the us air card he used did not have the fee waived either so no reason to not apply for the 40k offer instead

    2. US and AA will combine into one in the next year, so that is 80-90k after that happens, plus my Parents already have some miles in both programs. Alaska is 25k which at a minimum is enough for a free domestic flight. I don’t mind splitting my balances within different programs because it protects against sudden devaluations.

      1. If UA-CO merger serves as any example, points won’t be combined until Q2 2015 at earliest. Not sure why you’re banking on 90k miles being worth anything 12 months from now, as by the time US/AA points are combined, I’m sure the AA chart will have undergone a devaluation.

        1. Ya that is true. They do have enough US Air miles from the previous US cards and bonus offers to get a free business class trip. Miles will always devalue so I am not too worried about it. They only take a big trip once every 2 years.

  3. @David – He said he already had gotten them the big offers. Since we don’t really know what they have had and currently have it’s tough to critique the mix. They may already have SPG, which of course can top off the miles needed (as well as UR).

    I actually just got my 2nd Alaska card. I’ll cancel the first before the AF.

    1. Yeah they have had almost every single big offer out there. These were the only offers that were left that met the low minimum spend, high points criteria.

  4. Affiliate link driven

    A current AA card offer can generate 100k miles with 10k spend in 3 months. Sounds like the logical choice. But then again there is no affiliate link to benefit from with that one. And for the naysayers that think 10k is too much – if you’re ‘doing this credit card game for a while now,’ you know VERY well how to generate 10k in manufactured spend (yes, even without VR).

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