In a previous post I explained how to kickstart your experience with miles and points that can be used for free travel. A lot of new readers (hey, new readers!) said this was helpful, so I wanted to delve into some more details.
As mentioned in that post, you don’t have to spend hours upon hours tracking deals and immersing yourself in forums. By setting aside just a few minutes each month, you should be able to earn more than enough miles to go anywhere in the world within a year or less.
Still, if you want to go above and beyond, it’s totally possible to earn even larger numbers of miles and points, which can be applied to, well, even more trips. This is especially relevant this week, with the news of a huge 100,000 point bonus now being available for the first time in a while.
Here are a few ways you can get to 250,000 miles or more in a year (yes, really!).
Pay attention to special promotions and opportunities.
I don’t just mean “emails that the airline sends out,” because those aren’t usually the best opportunities. At least several times a year, a major opportunity arrives in which you can earn a lot of points and miles all at once. Some of these deals are the miles and points equivalent of a mistake fare, where the airline incorrectly prices a particular route very low.
When the right opportunity arrives, jump on it! Don’t wait too long, because just like mistake fares, the best promotions don’t last forever. Here are a few popular examples I’ve written about before:
- Stuff Envelopes for Hotel Points
- Buy Useless Stickers for Miles (808,185 of them!)
- Trade Stocks for Miles (without actually winning or losing any money)
- Buy Dollar Coins from the U.S. Government
- Get an Awkward Hair-Loss Consultation
- Test Drive a Cadillac
and of course, the Dining Dash, which isn’t really a special promotion but rather something that we made up a few years ago and now complete every year as part of an annual challenge.
If you’re wondering where to find current offers, we have a service that can help! Several years ago I founded the Travel Hacking Cartel, which has now served nearly 20,000 members since first opening. This is probably the easiest and least time-consuming way to make sure you earn a ton of miles, and you can get either a 14-day trial for $1 or two months free when registering for the annual plan.
But you can also manage on your own, by reading blogs, keeping up-to-date on various forums, and paying close attention. Either way works, so it just depends on how much time you have.
Get the right credit cards.
As you continue your miles and points journey, you’ll likely want more than one card—because different cards are good for different reasons. Some are worth getting just for the signup bonus; others are best for ongoing spending, and others are best for the ongoing benefits they provide.
You can always see top recommendations for cards at our partner site, CardsforTravel.com. Some of the application links there are affiliate links, and others aren’t. I try to always recommend the best possible cards regardless of benefit to me.
The most frequently asked question I get about this process is “What does it do to your credit?” I’ve covered this topic many times over the years. The short answer is that by managing credit responsibility, you’ll actually improve your credit score over time.
The second more frequently asked question I get about it is, what about once you’ve had all the cards?
Well, it will take you a long time to get all the cards. If you’re a U.S. citizen or resident, there are more than a dozen high-quality ones worth your attention, and probably another dozen that are decent. If you’re elsewhere in the world, local offers vary, but there are usually at least a few decent products.
Either way, once you do get most of the better cards that you’re eligible for, new cards will come out—just as we saw this week. The travel hacking game isn’t ending anytime soon. Banks want to acquire new customers, and offering those potential customers miles & points is a proven strategy that will likely continue for several years at minimum.
Spend money … the right way.
Whenever possible, once you have a good mileage-earning credit card, everything you buy should go on it. For best results, you’ll want to take advantage of category bonuses, where you earn double, triple, or even more points for spending in certain categories.
- You can earn 2x points for all dining and travel spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred (now 3x points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve)
- You can earn 3x points for all airfare spend on the American Express Premier Rewards card
- You can earn 5x points for everything purchased at office supply stores on the Ink Plus card
and more—these are just a few examples. The point (no pun intended) is to be wise with your spending and you’ll earn a lot of extra points and miles.
OK, so how can YOU earn 250,000 Miles in a year?
Maybe you don’t need to earn 250,000 miles in a year. But if you can get them, why not try? Consider it a personal challenge, like I’ve done for more than a decade.
Just don’t forget to actually travel. Miles are only valuable when you use them!