“How do you earn your frequent flyer miles and points?” is a question I get on a regular basis from TravelSort Clients and readers, who also want to know how we manage to fly all of us in international first class and business class, such as Singapore Suites, Cathay First Class, Etihad First Class and others. While our earned miles and points change year to year based on promotions and the credit cards my husband and I apply for, I'll use this past year of 2014 as an example.
Unlike many miles and points bloggers, we have *no* frequent flyer elite status with any airline and book very few paid flights, so almost none of our miles come from flying. We don't mind, since we almost exclusively fly international first class and business class on award tickets, so we still have access to airline lounges, priority boarding, etc.
Our lack of flown miles means we earn a lot fewer miles than those with elite status, so if you're able to leverage paid work travel as well as credit cards signup bonuses, category bonuses and other spend, you should be able to earn a lot more miles and points than we do. But if you're similar to us, don't worry if you don't have many paid flights. You *can* earn quite a few miles without them.
First, a rough breakdown of our family's (that is, my and my husband's) miles and points earning for 2014:
- 75%: Credit Card Signup Bonuses
- 10%: Spend and Category Bonuses
- 10%: Purchased/Shared Miles
- 5%: Other Bonuses/Referral Bonus
- 40%: American AAdvantage Miles
- 40%: Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
- 10%: Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
- 8%: US Airways Dividend Miles
- 2%: KrisFlyer / Other
- 100K Citi Executive AAdvantage Card: 400,000 AAdvantage miles total via 2 cards for each of us
- 70K Ink Plus Small Business Card: 140,000 Ultimate Rewards points via 1 card for each of us
- 50K Ink Bold Small Business Visa: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points via 1 card (prior version was a MasterCard)
- 50K Alaska Airlines Visa: 50,000 Mileage Plan miles via 1 card
- 40K Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa: 45,000 Ultimate Rewards points, including 5000 points from adding an authorized user (prior version was a MasterCard)
- 40K US Airways MasterCard: 80,000 US Airways Dividend Miles via 1 card for each of us
- 80,000 from all Ink spend, much of it at 5X
- 30,000 from Chase Freedom, all of it at 5X
- 20,000 from other spend, including some shopping portal bonuses
- 50,000 US Air Dividend Miles, via the Share Miles bonus
- 56,000 purchased Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
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