So you want to start your journey to another country, but the steep cost of airfare is keeping you grounded?
Not any more.
There is a way to easily get 75,000 to 150,000 Frequent Flier Miles (and possibly up to 225k) with just a few minutes of work and no actual flying.
For reference: A roundtrip to Europe from the US costs 60k miles. A roundtrip to China from the US is 75k miles. A domestic roundtrip (inside US) is 25k miles. For more information check out this American Airlines mileage reward chart.
After reading the very useful Frequent Flyer Master Guide by Chris Guillebeau and doing more research, I have stumbled upon a great way to easily earn a roundtrip international flight to anywhere in the world.
Citibank frequently sends out limited credit card promotions to specific customers, but these special offers can still be accessed on the Citi website by anyone who knows the URL. With the few steps below you can earn 75k, 150k, or even 225k bonus miles by using an older limited promotion.
Step 1 – Join the American Airlines frequent flyer AAdvatage program
Get an AAdvantage account for free if you don’t already have one. Make note of your account number, you will need it later.
Step 2 – Check your credit score (optional but recommended)
These card offers often require a good credit score (>700) to be approved. By checking your score ahead of time you can spot any problems or errors that need to be fixed before applying.
The cheapest way to regularly check your credit score is the myFico quarterly plan for only $5 per month.
Step 3 – Apply for the 2 Citi AAdvantage personal cards during the same day
If you want 150k miles (and you should) then you MUST apply for both the AmEx card and the Visa Signature card on the same day. If you apply for them on separate days you will be declined for the second personal AAdvantage card for not being a “new customer”.
UPDATE: The original offer page can’t be accessed. However, the actual application for the 75k miles Visa card for $1500 spending is still active and working here. The 75k miles Amex card for $1500 spending is not available. You can stay up to date on what offers can be accessed in this thread (warning: very long) on the flyertalk forums.
There is a new promotion offer page for 75k miles after $4000 in spending for both Visa and Amex.
Even though the offer technically “expired” on October 31, 2010, Citi’s policy is that if the link still works to go through the application, then they will still honor the promotion. Make sure to call the Customer Service Rep to confirm you are getting the promotion.
My experience: I got approved for my first 75k card immediately online (the Visa Signature) but my second card application (the AmEx) was declined a few days later because I don’t have a long enough credit history.
Step 4 – Get to $1500 spending within the first 4 months to earn the reward miles
You should receive the cards in about two weeks, then you can activate them and get to $1500 spending quickly. There are ways to speed up this spending (link) such as buying gift cards that you can use later.
Step 5 – When you hit $1500 on the card, pay off the balance early to get the miles faster
Go to your credit card’s online account and pay off the balance as soon as you get to $1500 spending. It will take 8-10 weeks for the frequent flyer miles to post to your AAdvanatage account after that.
Step 6 – Apply for the third card (Visa business) 90 days later (optional)
Getting approved for the third card is less likely than the first two, but the extra 75k miles are worth an attempt. Waiting at least 90 days gives the highest odds of being approved for the 3rd card (Visa business).
Note: You don’t need to actually have a business to get this card.
Step 7 – Cancel the cards to avoid an annual fee (optional)
After the miles are posted to your account you are free to cancel the cards if you want. Cancel them before the first year is over to not get charged an annual fee.
Step 8 – Redeem your frequent flyer miles for free flights wherever you want
This is often the most difficult part of the process due to limited availability of award seats. Dealing with the airlines to get reward seats is an entirely different topic itself. I highly recommend Chris Guillebeau’s Frequent Flyer Master guide which gives you specific tactics for getting the seats you want when the airline says none are available (this happens quite often).
The guide also outlines many other ways to earn frequent flyer miles including:
- Other great credit card offers (The Starwood American Express card is one of the best)
- Online shopping at mileage malls to earn extra miles on stuff you already buy anyways
- Special limited-time promotions
- How to fly with fewer miles by booking through partner airlines
You need to be a US citizen to apply for these cards, they require a social security number.
Keep in mind that these credit cards are only a good deal if you pay off the balance in full each month. If you carry credit card debt then it is much more important to get a card with a low interest rate.
Applying for (and canceling) these cards will likely only impact your credit score slightly. Chris Guillebeau applied for 13 reward cards and his credit score decreased by only 5%. However, if you are going to be taking out a big loan or mortgage in the near future, this is something to keep in mind.