The Newbie’s Guide To Frequent Flier Programs – Part 2

The Newbie’s Guide To Frequent Flier Programs – Part 2

Last week, we discussed the importance of Frequent Flier miles and their critical they were in helping you to achieve your travel goals. Today, we will discuss ways to help achieve those goals with a quickness.

Frequent Flier programs


Is there a way to get a lot of miles quickly?

At this point, the best way to get a significant number of miles quickly is through airline-specific credit cards.  They offer bonus mileage and perks which require you to meet certain conditions in order to qualify.  I applied for an AMEX Delta Gold card recently.  The process was seamless and I got an approval immediately.  If I spent $1000.00 within a month, I would receive 50,000 Delta Skymiles, 2 (one-time use) passes to their Sky-club lounge, the first bag that I check in would be free and the annual fee would be waived.  If you think about how quickly you can accrue $1000.00 in expenditures, you’d see it was a great deal.  I used the card to pay for gas, groceries and for other purchases I usually make.

Once upon a time,  my motto was if I can’t see what I bought with a credit card the next month, don’t buy it!  That would exclude gas, groceries or any other perishable item.  However, branded cards have changed my way of thinking.  I use credit cards anyway, why not make it work to my advantage?

If you are unable to pay the card off in a timely fashion, then I would caution you about seeking more credit than you currently have.  This method will only work for you if you are fiscally responsible.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to guard your good credit fiercely, so do not take the seriousness of getting in over your head lightly.

I will share something that happened to me that I think is pretty fantastic.  I had one (cash rewards) credit card with a balance that I wanted to transfer to an awards card that was offering 30,000 bonus miles and a 0% interest rate for a year.  I figured why continue to pay finance charges when I can just transfer the balance (the card did carry a 3% transfer fee…blah) and save some money in the long run?  After I was approved and had been using it for about a month, they began to offer another promotion for the same card, but the bonus miles had jumped to 75,000!  I didn’t see that one coming, but lesson learned.  I kept my cool and decided to contact the company via their secure messaging system through my online account to see if they would match it.

I knew deep down that my chances were poor, but I had to give it a try.  A couple of days later, I got a response where I was let down easy.  The agent went on to say that as a one-time courtesy, they would be adding 20,000 miles to my account which should post immediately to my account (it did).  Moral of the story?  It never hurts to ask (very nicely), so give it a try should you find yourself in a similar situation.  You never know what they may try to do to keep you happy.

Rule # 1: If your card doesn’t offer a chance to earn miles, get rid of it if you can.  Frequent Flier programs

If your credit is good, you are probably getting inundated with these types of offers in the mail anyway.  Seek out the ones that offer the most miles and go for it.  I would never secure a credit card that didn’t offer an award of some type and not all of them charge an annual fee.  I see no reason in making the banks richer and getting nothing for my troubles.  However, I didn’t always think that way.  I saw credit cards as a convenient way to pay a bill or purchase goods or services.  I had no other use for them besides that.  Now I realize that they can serve another purpose and that is to allow me to earn miles for living life as usual.  But, you should be judicious about which offer(s) you accept; some are better than others.  My 50k Delta deal is now down to 25k for current applicants.  I say wait until they offer a similar deal, no need to rush, always hold out for the most miles.

Not long afterward, an incredible deal came across the FF boards.  British Airways was offering a branded visa through Chase.  If you spent 2k in 2 months, you would earn a whopping 100k miles.  Do you think I turned that down?  The only downside is that you were billed the annual fee ($95.00) almost immediately.   However, you got 50k miles immediately too….after the 2 months you would get the other 50k.   The one thing that bugged me was that I could not use a credit card to pay my mortgage.  Can you imagine how quickly you would meet the spend requirement if you were allowed to do that?

Amazingly, I discovered a site that will allow you to pay your mortgage with a cc.  ChargeSmart is the solution to mortgage companies who put up similar roadblocks.  ChargeSmart doesn’t charge a fee, but your mortgage company probably will.  You will be told how much before the transaction is processed.


Frequent Flier programs

I believe that increasing your FF mile cache is an art.  You must always continue to focus on learning new ways of earning miles.  To that end, I suggest that you check out the following sites that offer incredible insight into securing frequent flier miles:

Frugal Travel Guy

The Points Guy

One Mile At A Time

Flyer Talk

Frequent Flier Crier

Also, check out deal sites like Fatwallet and Slickdeals where FF mile earning opportunities are discussed regularly in their forums.


Frequent Flier programs

There are some frequent fliers who are dedicated credit card churners.  This means that they apply for numerous credit cards  (some, every three months) in order to earn bonus miles.  Once they meet the spend requirement and collect their miles, they will either close the card within six months or accept the card issuer’s offer to transfer them to a no fee card.  The reason why they cancel within six months is because usually the annual fee is waived within the introductory period (the first year) and they do not want to pay when that period is over.   The downside is that your credit score will take a hit for about six months before it recovers.  Therefore, it is not a good idea to do this if you are planning on buying a house or a vehicle because it will hurt you in the short-term.  Keep in mind that these people are not novices, they have been doing this for years.  If you try it, you do so at your own risk.  I do not condone or condemn such practices, this is merely information that I am passing along since it is pretty prevalent in the FF world.

Next week…..we will discuss how to maximize those miles.



Renee King
[email protected]
  • The Newbie’s guide to frequent flier programs – part 1
    Posted at 08:12h, 01 August Reply

    […] the next two weeks, we will discuss how to quickly accrue and maximize those treasured frequent flier miles so that you can realize your dream […]

  • Debbie Beardsley
    Posted at 13:54h, 01 August Reply

    Thanks for including the links to sites that can help me accrue miles faster! Looking forward to the next edition 🙂

    • Renee
      Posted at 15:45h, 02 August Reply

      You’re welcome, Debbie! Here’s to getting thousands and thousands of miles in the coming months!

  • Carla
    Posted at 14:35h, 01 August Reply

    Love it! I’ve been accumulating the basic miles for a while, but this gave me great insight into new ways to get them! Thanks!

    • Renee
      Posted at 15:46h, 02 August Reply

      Excellent! I’m glad it helped, Carla!

  • Caaanan
    Posted at 15:13h, 01 August Reply

    Great post Renee. I am sure many people will find this very helpful!

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:42h, 02 August Reply

      Thanks, Caanan….I hope so!

  • Michael Figueiredo
    Posted at 18:41h, 01 August Reply

    Great tips! I love that you put George Clooney at the top of your story too. I just re-watched “Up in the Air” the other day on HBO…. such a great movie! 🙂

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:41h, 02 August Reply

      HA! I think I need to watch it again myself.

  • Sailor
    Posted at 19:07h, 01 August Reply

    I think this is going to be helpful for me in my not free travel assignments.

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:41h, 02 August Reply

      Amen! I could kick myself for not taking FF miles seriously before now. Hopefully, this series will help others to not make the same mistake.

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    Posted at 09:57h, 02 August Reply

    Great info! It would be wonderful to pay my mortgage with a credit card. I used to rent an apartment that let me use my credit card, and I earned cash back on that credit card. So nice to get something back for purchases I would make anyways.

    • Renee
      Posted at 15:44h, 02 August Reply

      Thanks, Stephanie…..I’ve always hated the fact that they didn’t accept cc’s… it is on!

  • Sophie
    Posted at 17:22h, 02 August Reply

    An interesting and no doubt useful post, Renee. Though I think you’ve taken this to a different level in America. There are some credit cards offering rewards in these parts of the world, too but it’s all a bit troublesome, with tax reporting and so on. Also, people don’t bother much with the airlines’ loyalty cards anymore, with flights here being so dirt cheap anyway.

  • Jeremy Branham
    Posted at 15:38h, 03 August Reply

    I have to admit I condemn the practice of credit cards for most people. Opening too many cards will hurt your credit. Find one or two you really like, use them responsibly, get your miles and points, and make sure you pay them off each month. Love the idea of being able to pay your mortgage but that may be too much of a hassle.

    • Renee
      Posted at 16:23h, 03 August Reply

      Hi Jeremy,

      I think the use of cc’s is up to the individual because they know what their particular financial situation is…..not everyone is irresponsible. However, if you are….I wouldn’t recommend that you apply for a card, which may be neither here nor there since you are likely to be denied one anyway. Too many cards is subjective. I think too many lands around 4, but others may disagree either up or down.

      Having a lot of inquiries on your credit will cause your credit to take a short-term hit, but it’s not a permanent situation. I think your credit to debt ratio is what could hurt you which is why I encouraged people who plan to do this to pay their bills promptly. All in all, this method of securing miles quickly is NOT for everyone, but for those who are intrigued and want to pursue it….good luck!!

  • Scott - Quirky Travel Guy
    Posted at 10:33h, 04 August Reply

    Good info Renee. I am just starting to try to figure out how to use credit cards to my advantage. I don’t have the credit record to get a lot of cards right now but I’m working towards that.

  • Mack Reynolds
    Posted at 17:07h, 05 August Reply

    thanks for the continued info. i’m new to credit cards, as i have only one with $300 limit. i’m having a hard enough time paying that off considering i’m a newly graduated mba with internship salary. it sounds like a good idea with all the FF benefits you get, and if you’re a responsible spender. great post.

  • Nomadic Samuel
    Posted at 20:08h, 07 August Reply

    These are excellent tips. I just finished an rtw trip & by having a credit card with air mileage I racked up a lot of points – enough for a free trip to South America.

  • The Newbie’s guide to Frequent Flier programs – part 3
    Posted at 13:03h, 08 August Reply

    […] miles, openjaw, stopovers, transfers  |  Share Last week, we discussed how to quickly accrue Frequent Flier miles.  Today, in our final installment, we will discuss how to maximize those miles and make them […]

  • The Newbie's guide to Frequent Flier programs - part 3 - A View To A Thrill
    Posted at 14:34h, 20 May Reply

    […] week, we discussed how to quickly accrue Frequent Flier miles.  Today, in our final installment, we will discuss how to maximize those miles and make them […]

  • The Newbie’s guide to frequent flier programs - part 1 - A View To A Thrill
    Posted at 15:30h, 20 May Reply

    […] the next two weeks, we will discuss how to quickly accrue and maximize those treasured frequent flier miles so that you can realize your dream […]

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