Credit Cards

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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10% Off British Airways Flights With British Airways Visa Card

British Airways 10% Off With Visa Card

Sam from Phoenix sent me an email today saying he signed up for the 100,000 Avois Points offer from British Airways and his Card just arrived in his mailbox today.

He was looking over the marketing material that came with his new British Airways Visa and to his surprise, it looks like when you use your British Airways Visa to book your flights on, using code CARDOFFERU, you get 10% off BA flights!

Full details can be found here.

From the BA website:

10% off when you book through

  • Discount is off the total cost of the fare (including taxes, fuel and surcharges).
  • Choose from any of British Airways 300+ destinations.
  • Travel in any cabin—World Traveler, World Traveler Plus, Club World or First.
  • Book up to eight friends and family members traveling on the same flight.

If the 100,000 mile sign up bonus wasn’t already enough of an incentive to sign up for the British Airways Visa, than this 10% discount certainly is icing on the cake.

For anyone who has looked up tickets to Europe this summer, you are aware how high it is. I ran a search and it was over $1,000 a ticket in Economy.

Basically if you took 1 paid trip on British Airways a year, the 10% off discount would easily cover the cost of the annual fee for this Card.

Also since 1 Card can be used to book up to 8 tickets, if you are a Family of 4 visiting Europe, on the example above, you would save almost $400 on your tickets.

Additionally, with the British Airways Visa, you earn 2.5 Avios Points per $1 spent on

Chase is really stepping their game up with the benefits on this Card and if you haven’t already signed up to take advantage of the 100,000 Avois Points sign up offer, I would strongly suggest doing so!

If anyone from Chase is reading this, I think it is safe to say that everyone would also love the United MileagePlus Explorer to have a similar discount on United flights!


Reader Question: To Close Or Not To Close (Chase Sapphire Preferred), That Is The Question!

Reader Question: Hey Parag! Love your blog, thanks for all the helpful tips! Just had a quick question, I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa last year in March. The annual fee is coming due and I don’t really want to pay it. Should I close the card or should I keep it open? I’m really conflicted. Thanks!

This is a great question as I suspect a lot of people will be encountering similar situations in the coming months, as the annual fee for their Chase Sapphire Preferred comes due!

My Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t up for renewal until June, however I will share what I plan on doing when the annual fee comes due.

1. Reconsideration Bonus

Anytime you want to close a card, doesn’t matter what type of card it is, always call your Bank a few months before the Annual Fee is due and act like you are thinking about closing the card. Although it depends on how long you have been with the Bank, how much money you spend on the card, and who the Credit Card issuer is, you can often get them to either waive the annual fee or provide you with some kind of retention bonus to not close the card. In my opinion I would try to get an annual fee waiver first because it is more valuable. If that doesn’t work, then try and get a retention bonus.

Remember that to acquire you as a customer, Chase spent 50,000 miles! Therefore it is much cheaper in the long run for them to waive your $95 annual fee and keep you as a customer, rather than spend another 50,000 miles to acquire an additional customer!

In my experiences getting reconsideration bonuses, American Express is really good about offering them, while Chase can be a stickler unless you spent a substantial amount on the credit card in the last year. When I had called last year to close my Continental OnePass card, I tried to get a reconsideration bonus but was denied. However when my girlfriend’s Father called to close his Continental OnePass Card, Chase offered him a $100 statement credit. This was likely because he had charged his younger daughter’s $30,000 college tuition on the card, therefore was considered a valuable customer! This is another case of Your Mileage May Vary, however it never hurts to ask!

If for some reason when you are “trying” to close the card and they don’t offer any type of reconsideration bonus, DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR ONE! I suspect that the “retention specialists” that you get transferred to get bonuses on how well they convert people into staying on the card. Therefore you might as well make their job easier for them and just ask for one. Worst thing they can say is no.

2. Downgrade

If you get denied for an annual fee waiver or a reconsideration bonus, my advice would then be to ask for a downgrade to the Chase Freedom.

The purpose of downgrading isn’t so much to get another card, it is more to help boost your credit score. By downgrading, you will avoid taking a hit on your credit score for closing an account and at the same time you will also extend the average length of your credit history. Even if you have no use for a downgraded card, I would still suggest you downgrade and then put the new downgraded card in your drawer to collect some dust.

While most downgraded cards are kind of worthless, in my opinion the Chase Freedom is one of the best “everyday” cards for the random months when you don’t have a mileage earning credit card. I would never suggest signing up for the Chase Freedom by itself because there are better cards out there with much larger sign up bonuses. However in this case because you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card open, downgrading will NOT result in a credit inquiry and you will get a semi-decent new card.

Benefits of Chase Freedom

  • No Annual Fee
  • Rotating 5% Cash Back Quarterly Categories Like, Gas Stations, Restaurants, etc.
  • Additional 10% Earning Bonus If You Have A Qualifying Checking Account

If you already have a Chase Freedom (as I do), you may want to consider downgrading to the regular Chase Sapphire Card (yes it does exist!). While there is no annual fee for this card, there is also no 2x points on travel, no annual dividend, and most importantly no cool weighted card! You still however do get 2x points on dining, instant access to customer service, and earn points via Ultimate Rewards.

The only thing to consider when downgrading is that you most likely won’t be eligible for any future sign up bonuses for that specific Credit Card. While this isn’t a huge deal for the Chase Freedom, as the current sign up bonus is only $100 (aka 10,000 miles), the Chase Sapphire currently has a 25,000 point offer. Therefore, I’d recommend downgrading to the Freedom first before considering the regular Chase Sapphire.

Hopefully that answers the question and helps those of you that are trying to decided what to do with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card!

If anyone has any other questions, I am always here to answer them! Just send me an email at or leave a comment below!