I minimize the travel related posts at Money Help for Christians because I have a family travel blog where I share all my best money saving tips for travel. Of course, learning to earn airline miles for free flights is a great way to save money on vacations. So today I decided to reach out to a fresh audience and let you know about how to earn (mostly) free vacations.
Just this week I discovered a document in my Travel folder on my computer. I don’t know exactly when I did the research, but I think it was between 2002 and 2005. In the chart below, I’ve listed the sign up bonuses that were available “back when” and what is currently available now.
Earn Airline Miles With Airline Miles Credit Cards
|Airline||Sign Up Bonus Back When (Between 2002 –2005)||Sign Up Bonus Today|
|American Airlines||20,000 miles when you spend $750 in 4 months. No annual fee for the first year.||75,000 miles you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months. No annual fee for the first year.|
|Northwest Airlines||15,000 after first purchase. $90 annual fee.||See Delta as NWA and Delta have now merged.|
|Continental Airlines||20,000 after first purchase. $65 annual fee.||50,000 after first purchase. Annual fee waved for the first year.|
|United Airlines||21,000 after spending $250. No annual fee for the first year.||30,000 miles and $50 cash back. No annual fee for the first year.|
|Delta||15,000 after first purchase. No annual fee for the first year.||30,000 miles after first purchase. No annual fee. First bag free.|
*You can learn more about most of these offers from this post on the best airline credit cards offers in February 2011.
As you can see, the mileage increase is pretty substantial:
- American – earn up to 55,000 more miles
- Continental – earn up to 30,000 more miles
- United – earn up to 9,000 more miles
- Delta – earn up to 15,000 more miles
Those points, conservatively, are worth a penny per point. Thus, the reward values increase as follows:
- American – $550 increased reward value
- Continental – $300 increased reward value
- United – $90 increased reward value
- Delta – $150 increased reward value
It seems to me that the case is clear that this is a great time to become an airlines points junkie. Sure, there are downsides to collecting airline points, but with these generous bonuses, it hard not to find some outstanding value.
Earn Your Airline Miles and Make Chris Gullebeau Green with Envy
Chris Guillebeau, in case your one of the three people who don’t know who he is, is the founder of the Travel Hacking Cartel.
Almost two years ago Chris Guillebeau wrote an article on how he got 300,000 airline points. In order to accomplish that feat he paid $497 in annual fees and signed up for 12 credit cards. You could do that same thing today by doing the following:
- American CitiCard 75,000 business card
- American CitiCard 75,000 personal card
- Continental Chase 50,000 card.
- American Express Platinum Card. $450 annual fee. 50,000 AMEX membership rewards points that can be transferred (until March 31st) to 75,000 Delta points.
Thus, by signing up for four cards and paying $450 in annual fees you can earn 275,000 airline miles. Of course, you could even ad about three more free cards to the mix and do it with 7 cards and $0.
What Can You Get With All Those Airline Miles?
What if all those numbers don’t mean anything to you? My wife asks that all the time. So what do those numbers mean?
Let’s use the American Airlines miles program as an example.
- On American, you can buy one-way award tickets in the US and Canada for 12,500 points.
- You can book one-way tickets to Asia (Zone 1) for 32,500 points.
- A trip to Europe will cost you 30,000 points each way.
- If you’re able to travel off-peak to Asia, you can score a one way ticket for 25,000 points and a one way ticket to Europe for 20,000 points.
Alright. Now let’s get a little more tangible.
I have a family of five (two adults and three kids).
In April or May of 2012, we’re thinking about flying one-way from Rome, Italy to Cheyenne, Wyoming. We’re also going to stop in New York City for a visit.
It would cost us a total of 100,000 miles and $220 miles to fly to those cities. That means if my wife and I each signed up for the card, we would get 150,000 points which is more than enough to cover tickets for our family of five to fly from Italy to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Let me quantify it a little more.
The purchase price of the itinerary mentioned above (without the stop) would cost our family $14,069. Hmmmm. Let me see. Spend $14,069 or sign up for two credit cards?
Decision made. Where’s the application form?
If you are interested in signing up for a credit card and getting some bonus points, see – Airlines Credit Cards | Best Credit Cards Rewards Feb 2011. You should know that this amazing American Airlines CitiCard offer expires on the 28th of February.
I know not everyone is going to grow up and become an airline miles junkie. In fact, those with credit card debt should avoid all credit cards until they show an ability to manage their money. The other concern with signing up for credit cards relates to credit scores. However, if you’ve ever had those aspirations to become a miles junkie and travel for free, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon and get your points before this season of seriously generous promotions ends.
If you’re interested in learning more of this kind of stuff, you should follow my blog www.helpmetravelcheap.com.