Current miles: 295,000
Goal miles: 375,000
In my last post, I told you that we planned to spend $10,000 in less than two months in order to get about $10,000 worth of free airline tickets. Actually, the whole effort was more like spending $16,000 in under four months, because at the time I wrote that, we had already spent $6,000 to earn the sign-up bonuses on two other cards. All this spending earned us a total of about 265,000 miles in bonuses. That might sound crazy. After all, if we have that kind of money on hand, why not just buy the airplane tickets outright?
The reason it’s not crazy is that we spent the money on stuff we were going to pay for anyway. This is a really central tenet of the whole credit card miles thing. You can’t be going out and spending on stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise bought, just to earn the miles. You especially can’t put purchases on these cards that you can’t pay for as soon as the bill comes in, because the moment you pay an interest charge, you’re behind. This game is only worth it if you pay no late fees or interest charges. Seriously!
This post is a little awkward to write, because I get that not everyone can just decide to put thousands of dollars on credit cards over the course of a few months. We are a bigger family in a high-cost area, and although these high costs mean we are far from rich, our monthly income is above the national average. We had some cash reserves on hand, and we had a number of deferred expenditures that had built up because I’m cheap and tend to put off spending money. Not only that, but spring happens to be a time of year when we have to prepay for a bunch of summer programs for the kids so that I can continue working during their summer break. Not everyone will find themselves with as much inflow and outflow as our current situation calls for.
On the other hand, most people reading this might only be trying to get two or three free airline tickets, and might have longer than a month to get all the spending done. The bonus offers I applied for all allowed three months for making the minimum spend. So even if it doesn’t work for you just as it worked for us, it may work for you in your own way.
So what did we spend all that money on in such a short time? Basically, we spent $3,500 on kids’ camps and classes, $2,000 on charity, $2,000 on skiing (some reimbursed), $1,400 at restaurants (a lot of that reimbursed by fellow diners), $1,000 on business expenses, $1,000 on gifts, $850 on groceries, $750 on airfare for family events, $300 on one of our kids’ birthdays, $750 on gift cards for future groceries and the rest on miscellaneous one-time splurges, purchases and bills.
In other words, this stuff: Continue reading