How We Earned 1 Million Miles and Points in 2015 Without Flying

How We Earned 1 Million Miles and Points in 2015 Without Flying


We earned about 1 frequent flyer million miles and points in 2015, without flying. Those last two words are key, because there are of course many travelers who earn far more than 1 million frequent flyer miles and points per year, although a good portion of them are from flying and from their frequent flyer elite status, sometimes with more than one airline. If you're wondering why we wanted to earn about 1 million miles, please see Redeeming 800K Miles and Points: Why We Don't Save Our Miles.

In our case, our miles earned from flying are so negligible (mostly a few Singapore KrisFlyer miles and a few JetBlue TrueBlue points) that I haven't even included them. We don't have frequent flyer status with any airline, or any hotel elite status (since the best luxury hotels, such as Aman Resorts, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and luxury boutique hotels don't belong to loyalty programs), so our primary miles and points earning is from credit card signup bonuses, category bonuses, and credit card spend. 

We bought quite a few AAdvantage miles and Alaska miles this year, so our total earned miles and points was 1,355,000 including the miles we bought, and 1,005,000 miles excluding the miles we bought. I'll present the percentages below excluding the miles we bought.

Here's our breakdown in 2015 of our earned and purchased miles and points:

  • 74%: Credit Card Signup Bonuses
  • 14%: Spend and Category Bonuses
  • 12%: Referral Bonus / Miles Rebate
And here's a rough breakdown of the miles and points we earned:
  • 33% AMEX Membership Rewards Points
  • 24% Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
  • 17% American AAdvantage Miles
  • 16% Citi ThankYou Points
  • 5% United MileagePlus Miles
  • 5% Lufthansa Miles & More Miles
Although if I include the AAdvantage miles and Alaska Mileage Plan miles we bought here are the totals:
  • 24% AMEX Membership Rewards Points
  • 23% American AAdvantage Miles
  • 18% Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
  • 15% Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
  • 12% Citi ThankYou Points
  • 4% United MileagePlus Miles
  • 4% Lufthansa Miles & More Miles
 
 
Credit Card Signup Bonuses
 
We applied for 12 credit cards this year, 7 for me and 5 for my husband. Naturally many people apply for more credit cards than we did, so this is not an unreasonable number of cards where both partners have good credit scores and are willing to apply regularly for new cards. Here are the cards we applied for:
  • 150K AMEX Business Platinum and 100K AMEX Business Platinum: 250,000 Membership Rewards points via 1 card for each of us
  • 50K AMEX Business Gold card for one of us: 50K Membership Rewards points
  • 50K Citi AAdvantage Platinum: 100K AAdvantage miles via 1 card for each of us
  • 50K Citi AAdvantage Business Card for one of us: 50K AAdvantage miles
  • 40K Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa: 45,000 Ultimate Rewards points, including 5000 points from adding an authorized user (I hadn't received a bonus for this card in over 2 years)
  • 50K Citi Prestige card for each of us: 100K Citi ThankYou points
  • 50K Citi ThankYou Premier for one of us: 50K Citi ThankYou points
  • 50K United Business Explorer card for one of us: 50K United MileagePlus miles
  • 50K Lufthansa Miles & More card for one of us: 50K Miles & More miles
Total: 745,000 miles and points
 
 
Spend and Category Bonuses
 
We buy quite a bit on Amazon, and also buy a fair amount at our local Whole Foods, and thanks to our Ink Plus we buy gift cards at Staples in order to earn 5X on all Amazon spend and 5X on all Whole Foods spend.

We also are happy when the Chase Freedom has restaurants as a category, as that allows us to buy gift cards to our favorite restaurants to get 5X on much of our dining out spend. And Q1 2015 with our Chase Freedom card gave us 5X on all grocery spend, which we used to do bulk shopping at Trader Joe's, as well as stock up on gift cards for later use during the year.
Here are the miles we earned in 2015 from spending, including category bonuses:
  • 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points from Chase Freedom 10X on Amazon using our two Chase Freedom cards (spent mostly on Whole Foods and Amazon gift cards)
  • 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points from Travel, some at 3X via the AMEX Business Gold airfare category bonus, some at 3X via the Citi ThankYou Premier, and the rest at 2X via the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Ink Plus 2X on hotels
  • 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points for grocery spend, mostly 5X using Trader Joe's gift cards bought while the Chase Freedom had groceries as its 5X category, and Whole Foods at 5X using gift cards bought at Staples using the Ink Plus
  • 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points on dining, some at 5X using the Chase Freedom Restaurants 5X category, and the remainder 2X with the Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 45,000 various miles and points, earned while meeting minimum spend for credit cards, some 5X for Internet and phone bills using the Ink Plus, and on other non-bonused spend
Total: 140,000 miles and points
 
Purchased Miles 

We purchased a lot of miles this year: 150,000 AAdvantage miles in order to help book awards in Etihad First Class Apartments on the A380 and Qantas First Class on the A380 among other awards, and 200,000 Alaska miles with a 50% bonus for future Emirates First Class on the A380 awards.

 

Referrals and Mileage Rebates

Thanks to readers, we earned 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points for referrals to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom cards.

We also earned mileage rebates of 10,000 AAdvantage miles for each of our Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cards for a total of 20,000 AAdvantage miles, since you can earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back when you have a Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card (up to a maximum of 10K miles per account, per year).

 

Bottom Line

Looking back at my post from last year, our miles and points from credit cards are nearly the same: 745,000 this year, vs. 765,000 miles and points last year. Our miles from category bonuses and spend were also very close: 140,000 miles and points this year, vs. 130,000 miles and points last year. The greatest difference is that we decided to buy 350,000 AAdvantage miles and Alaska miles this year, vs. just over 100,000 miles last year; it's possible I'll even buy even more AAdvantage miles on Jan. 1 since the current offer is 115,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when buying 150,000 miles (the maximum amount you can buy in 1 calendar year), if it looks like we'll redeem them prior to the 2016 AAdvantage Award Chart Devaluation. 

How did your family earn miles and points in 2015, and what do you plan to redeem them for?

Related Posts

How We Earned 1 Million Miles and Points in 2014

Our 2015 Progress Towards 1 Million Frequent Flyer Miles and Points

Top 10 Frequent Flyer Airline Mile Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Redeeming 800K Miles and Points: Why We Don't Save Our Miles

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