I'm fairly experienced in earning massive amounts of airline miles and converting them to awesome first class flights around the world.
For the Japan trip, I flew ANA First Class in their new suites to Tokyo and Cathay First class on the way back. I've flown 4 Lufthansa First class international flights, and once on Singapore Airlines First class. Of course a few biz class flights as well.
Ben took the video above during the Japan trip. It offers a brief overview, but I'm here to answer any specific questions you have to taking advantage of flying in style (or simply flying a ton for virtually free).
As a beginner, whats the best way to start?
You'll want to get your feet wet with a couple of cards. Once you realize how valuable the miles are, then you'll be hooked to go deeper.
First set a reward, let's say fly to Europe or Asia on First Class or Business Class on a foreign airline. This would require 120k to 140k miles roundtrip roughly. To make it easier, we'll fly one way with United miles and fly the other way with American miles. United can get you Lufthansa flights and American can get you Cathay Pacific flights (to Asia only).
Apply for these cards at the same time early morning (7 to 9 am) on Mon or Tues. Open multiple browers and fill in the details as fast as possible. This is to minimize credit inquiries so each company thinks you are only applying for their card only.
American Airline Miles -
40k AA miles after $3000 in spend - http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1262549-citi-aa-100-off-50k-companion-cert-plus-other-offers-they-appear.html (they have a few cards but the first link that isn't crossed out will work, the application page may not say you'll get the miles, but it should work as long as you see the application)
25k Starwood miles that can transfer to 30K AA miles (15k after first purchase and 10k after $5000 within 6 months) - http://millionmilesecrets.com/go/SPGPersonal/
United Airline Miles - Apply for the Chase cards at the same time with 2 different web browsers so you can hit the submit button within seconds fo each other so it hopefully only registers as 1 credit inquiry.
40k Chase Ultimate Reward miles Transfers to United after $3k within 3 months - http://millionmilesecrets.com/go/SapphirePreferredVisa/
50k Chase Ultimate Reward miles Transfers to United after $5k within 3 months - http://millionmilesecrets.com/go/InkPlus/ - Here's how to qualify for a biz if you think you don't have one http://millionmilesecrets.com/2011/06/09/3-ways-you-may-qualify-for-a-business-credit-card/ and http://millionmilesecrets.com/2012/12/05/chase-business-reconsideration/
Now you'll either get instant approvals or have to wait a week for a letter. Always call the number in the letter if you've been disapproved. Ask them if there is anything that can be done to get you approved. http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/16036 will explain in detail.
Now how to meet those enormous spending requirements! - Fortunately it's not that hard these days.
See the other comment below, once you get to this point, you can ask me any specific questions.
Just applied for my first two cards. Got instantly approved for the Chase Freedom, and now waiting for approval for Chase Sapphire Preferred. I decided to start small and go with the Chase Freedom card, since it has no yearly fee and only 500 spending.
What do you do about the yearly fees after the first year?
In the terms it states, "This is a one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer". So does this mean I won't get any bonus offers in the future from Chase for any Chase card?
Great start! Those are two very good cards.
If I know I'm not going to use the card again, I would cancel it when the annual fee comes up. Just keep in mind that you have 30 days until AFTER the annual is posted to cancel with a full refund. If you spent a good amount of money on that card, always try to ask if there anything they can do for you to keep the card. Chase isn't very generous, but they do sometimes waive it or give concessions.
The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x on Travel and 2x on Dining and has no exchange fees while traveling. Also you have to have this card (or Ink Bold) in order to transfer to airlines. So you need to transfer Chase Freedom points into the Chase Sapphire account before you can transfer to United for example.
This makes it worth keeping the Sapphire Preferred since its such a useful card. You can take advantage of all the 5x bonus quarterly categories of the Chase Freedom, transfer those points over to Sapphire Preferred.
However, 99% of the time, I always cancel when the annual fee hits. Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold are the exception for me but only because I travel so much and like to have both a fee free exchange VISA and Mastercard.
However, if you are planning to apply for the Ink Bold, then it you could cancel the Sapphire and keep the Ink Bold as an alternative strategy.
You can take advantage of ALL Chase offers once as long as it's advertised with a different name. For example, the Ink Cash and Ink Bold are 2 different cards and you can get the bonus for both even though the names are so similar.
So don't worry, some people have done every card chase offers! You just can't do the same card twice. However, we'll see if even that can be nullified if we wait 2 years or more. I know with the Citi AA cards, you can wait 18 months from approval, and apply for the same exact card.
7 to 9 am EST? I live in Turkey, which is why I ask.
Also, I believe the SPG personal bonus is 25K (10K after first spend, and 15K after 5k in 6 months) - unless there's a new bonus I'm unaware of.
Hey Misol. What are you using to complete spending requirements nowadays?
1. Walmart Amex Bluebird card - Buy gift cards and load unto bluebird cards at Walmart here's the best breakdown http://boardingarea.com/blogs/frequentmiler/2013/04/24/the-bluebird-metric/
2. Use Amazon Payments to send $1000 a month to friends/family (break it smaller chunks, not straight $1000 payments)
Newest: Google Wallet, but be careful only to do smaller amounts http://boardingarea.com/blogs/frequentmiler/2013/05/20/google-challenges-paypal-amazon-payments-and-others-with-innovative-new-version-of-google-wallet/
The bluebird card is by far the most amazing and get get you $5k spend a month easily. Save all receipts and everything just in case. IRS may think you have some weird habits.
This is a very beginner question but,
Who accounts/governs your miles? United? or Chase?
My guess is United. So do I sign up for a frequent flyer account from United.com first before applying to any cards? And doesn't this only limit me to one airline? united?
Gotta start somewhere! The answer is, it depends. For example...
Chase has the United Explorer card where points are automatically deposited into your United MileagePlus frequent flyer account. When you sign up for the credit card, you have the option to enter your existing United MP number or let them create a new one (if you don't have one, probably best to create your United account first)
Chase also has a program called Ultimate Rewards and is used with a lot of their cards like Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Bold/Plus. These are flexible points stored at Chase. On the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold cards, you can transfer these points into United, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt, and others. This is great because it gives you more options. United is by far the most useful. You just use their Ultimate Rewards system to transfer the miles. It's very fast. I keep my points here until I'm ready to use it.
Amex has their Membership Rewards and can transfer to many airlines. The highlight is Singapore airlines where you can fly First class to Asia for a few hundred dollars per leg (due to fuel surcharges).
Usually if the credit card is branded with an airline, then the points will go directly to the airline program.
Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions.
There is a new Delta Gold card with 50,000 miles after sign-up and $50 statement credit
I've been on an awesome run of trips recently. I've gone to China, Peru, Mexico, and Japan, and have paid $1350 total for all four flights. That's roughly the cost of the normal price of just ONE of the more expensive flights on that list. I have a few tricks to share with you which are responsible for these four flights.
FlyerTalk Mileage Run Forums
You may already be aware that there's a group of people online who are completely obsessed with miles and status on airline frequent flyer programs. They all congregate on a site called FlyerTalk.com and discuss mileage runs, which are flights so cheap that it's (nearly) worth going just for the miles. In fact, many members go on trips that last for just hours before they get back on the plane home.
You may not want to take trips like that, but you can use their forum to find extremely cheap flights (and get miles while you're at it). Just go to the Mileage Run subforum and search for your home airport. You can also check out this thread which has deals that are still very cheap but don't earn enough miles to qualify as a mileage run. Sometimes that's because the price is a bit higher, but often it's because it's an obscure airline with a crappy frequent flyer program or a fare class that doesn't offer miles.
Flew from Saigon to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, transiting in Singapore. The seats were tiny, I barely fit in it. At first I was kind of annoyed at that, and then I realized - whoa, I'm flying. I'm experiencing the miracle of powered human flight.
That put it into proper perspective, and I had a really nice flight. Related: