How to Earn Free Plane Tickets and Cash Back by Shopping Online

This is a guest post from April Dykman, an avid GRS reader, and a writer and editor by trade. April is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, April described how she discovered freedom from mindless spending. April is an active commenter at this site.

When my husband and I went to Italy in 2006, we spent $2500 on plane tickets. We're planning to spend much less for our next hop across the pond because as of this month we have over 80,000 airline miles — just enough for two tickets to Europe.

I used to think frequent flier miles were only awarded to, you know, frequent fliers. Or people who use an American Express for big company expenses. I certainly didn't think little ol' me who gets on a plane maybe once a year would be able to rack up enough miles to matter.

Then I stumbled upon Free Frequent Flyer Miles, a guide written by Gary Steiger, air-mileage earner extraordinaire. I couldn't believe there were so many ways to earn miles. Soon after, I learned about sites that offer quarterly cash rebates. From these two discoveries, my online buying process developed.

Rewards card
We started by applying for an air rewards card and received 30,000 miles for opening the account. My husband and I put every possible expense on this card — even our electric bill. The card earns one mile per dollar spent.

Warning: Super important disclaimer ahead. If you do not pay the balance every month, rewards cards are not for you. There are lower interest credit cards and the interest charges on a rewards card will kill any travel benefits. Our card has a higher rate than our non-reward cards, but we never pay one cent of interest. We also pay a $50 annual fee, which doesn't bother me considering the savings we'll get on plane tickets. In short, read the fine print.

Airline shopping malls and rebate sites
I would never buy something merely to earn rewards. But we all buy stuff at some point, and there are benefits to be gained by shopping online. Let's say I need to stock up on some household items like detergent and dish soap. This is the process I use:

  1. Google the items. Note the names of the merchants offering the three best prices (include shipping charges).
  1. Check the airline malls and rebate sites. I use AAdvantage eShopping and Ebates. In my example, drugstore.com participates in both programs and offers free shipping for orders over $49. Let's say my merchandise total comes to $55.
  1. Search for coupons. Typically I Google the merchant name and “coupon” or “code.” I found a $10 coupon code for drugstore.com.
  1. Log into Ebates or rebate site of your choice. Click on the merchant name, and a new window will open. (Ebates offers 6 percent back on drugstore.com purchases.)
  2. Log into AAdvantage eShopping or airline shopping portal of your choice. Click on the merchant name, and a new window will open. (AAdvantage offers three miles for every dollar spent at drugstore.com.)
  1. Using the last window to open, select your items. I always log into AA last and purchase from the AA window to ensure I'll receive my miles. Sometimes the registration tracking to AA can be overwritten if you click to another affiliate, though I've always received both the rebate and the miles.
  1. Go to the checkout screen, and enter your coupon code.
  1. Complete purchase with a rewards card.
  1. Follow up to ensure you receive your rewards. It can take up to 60 days for air miles to be credited.

This process takes me maybe 10 minutes. Using my example, I've paid about $45 for $55 of merchandise. I will get $2.70 in cash rebates and 180 air miles (135 miles from the airline shopping portal and 45 miles for paying with my rewards card). No purchase is too small — the rewards will add up quickly.

More tips

  • Sign up for mailing lists for sites you frequent. Often subscribers are privy to special discounts.
  • Try out a site like wishlisting.com, which allows you to bookmark items and alerts you when they go on sale.
  • Stock up on products you know you'll use if a bigger order means free shipping. I buy three bottles of dishwashing liquid per order, or more if it's on sale.
  • Spend time perusing lists of participating vendors — you might be surprised. When we installed new floors, we bought materials from a store in town, only to discover that we could have bought our supplies online from the same merchant and earned 2,000 miles. (Yes, just to torture myself, I did the math.)
  • Look for rewards on subscription services. A new Netflix account awarded us 1,500 miles.
  • If you buy gift cards, see if the merchant participates in rewards programs. (Be sure to check the merchant exclusions. Some give credit for gift cards purchased, others for gift card money redeemed.)
  • Watch prices on items you buy. If you can find something cheaper in a store, weigh the savings versus the rewards.

Diversify
The next thing we need to do is to diversify. Right now we only have miles with one airline. Since the company can change its rewards program at any time, we'd be much better off if we stockpiled miles from several airlines. According to Gary Steiger's site, he has nine airline accounts!

I encourage anyone who shops online to make the most of every dollar. Memberships to most reward programs are free. For very little effort, I've received $160 in cash and earned enough miles for roundtrip tickets to Europe. Even with the fees and taxes, we'll pay much less for plane tickets than we would without the miles.

What about you? Do you participate in rewards or rebates programs? Which are your favorites?

Photos by Andres Rueda.

More about...Travel

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others
guest
100 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
E.D.
E.D.
11 years ago

DH and I both have United Mileage Plus CCs, which are paid off every month. Then there is the Mileage Plus online mall that give miles on top of that.

We rack up enough miles to get tickets to Hawaii every other year.

JakeIL
JakeIL
11 years ago

Ahhhhhh!!!! Run away now! Run away, I say! OK, now that we are through that, I little more stable analysis of what is going on from someone who has played this game for years. A reward credit card is great if you pay it off on time. However, should you be looking at an *airline* credit card or a cash back credit card? Lets look at the difference: With a cash back card you pay no fee and get about 1% back depending on your deal. This is a very simple calculation: How much do you spend on your card… Read more »

Michael
Michael
11 years ago

I have always taken advantage of airline credit cards. Currently saving up for Delta tickets to Hawaii. I ususally cancel the card though before the fee kick in. It It is important to always compare how much miles actually costs so you can chose either a rewards card or miles card.

Also, did anyone check out the JetBlue thing? Pay a one time monthy fee and you get free travel all month!

EscapeVelocity
EscapeVelocity
11 years ago

My card gives me cash back, which I figure is more flexible than airline miles, especially on one airline (and I like to be able to stop flying an airline if they, say, strand me overnight). I do have regular frequent flyer accounts, and back when I did more traveling and they were more generous I did get a couple free flights, including one to Europe.

I really don’t do much online shopping, and generally only for things I can’t find locally.

Brenda
Brenda
11 years ago

“What about you? Do you participate in rewards or rebates programs? Which are your favorites?” I love my USAA World Mastercard. It has an extensive Rewards program, and NO Annual Fee (and a very low 6% interest rate, but that’s a moot point). Whatever I put on it, gets paid off in full each month. I try to put as many items in my monthly budget on it as possible (gas, food, etc) to reap the rewards. I get as many points as possible during the year, and then use them at the end of each year to purchase gift… Read more »

Chickybeth
Chickybeth
11 years ago

This post was excellent! I have been signed up with the AAdvantage program for over a year but have only earned 300 miles because I always forget to go to the site and wasn’t sure how to save money using it. The Ebates trick and comparison shopping at the merchant first are great ideas. I am trying it right now. Thanks!

Ann
Ann
11 years ago

I’m cheap and I like cash. My main card is the Capital One no-annual-fee cash back rewards card. I get 1% back on all purchases. (I don’t think this card is offered anymore.) Recently, I also got the MBNA Smart Cash card (no annual fee also), which gives me 3% on groceries and gas and 1% on everything else. I use it for groceries and on-line purchases only because I kept the limit on this one RELATIVELY low (it’s really hard to get credit card companies to set a $1k limit). I use a Visa for gas purchases because I… Read more »

Tyler@FrugallyGreen
11 years ago

I’ve always been curious about airline rewards, but always just assumed there was too much red tape associated with them and have opted for cards that give cash back.

How do most people feel about airline miles? Are they useful when you need them? Do you have to bend over backwards to use them because they’re ladled with restrictions?

What cards offer the best and least restricted reward miles?

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Personally, I do not like the airline rewards cards. Airlines have the ability to change the rules at any time. You are (as stated in the article) paying $50 a year to use a credit card. On top of that, to get maximum benefit you are shopping only at partnered sites. I’m not familiar with drugstore.com, but you could be paying more by shopping only at specific vendors. Additionally, don’t you still have to pay taxes and fees with your “free” tickets? (I could be misinformed here). For me the hassle is not worth it. I go with an Amazon.com… Read more »

Lesley
Lesley
11 years ago

I’ve got to add that this may not be useful for any non-Americans. I only have my knowledge as a Canadian, but my experience is that shopping online is problematic at best. Many places won’t even ship outside the US, and those that do charge such exorbitant shipping that it ends up being more expensive. Canadian-based online stores do exist, but usually only for specialty items, not general household purchases.

April
April
11 years ago

@Ann–If we didn’t want to travel, we’d use a cash back card, too. But we’d like to start taking a big trip every other year, and if we can get enough miles to pay for $2500 in airfare, that works out better for our situation. @Tyler–I have not redeemed miles yet, but my boss and a friend of mine use AA, and they have never had a problem redeeming miles. My understanding is that you’ll have better luck getting the flight you want if you book ahead of time, so they might not be as useful for a last-minute trip.… Read more »

RB @ RichBy30RetireBy40
RB @ RichBy30RetireBy40
11 years ago

The JetBlue thing is legit for $599 for Sept 8-Oct 8. Really $640 after taxes and not a bad deal if you are in one of its hubs. However, after checking where they fly, it doesn’t seem as worth it, and one would have to take a lot of connecting flights. If someone could arrange a last minute month off from work… this would work, but this looks like a win for JeBlue. $640 = 2 good transcontinental flights. You gotta to do more than that to make it worthwhile. Don’t forget all the hotels/housing costs. I’m not down with… Read more »

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

This is great April! Once again, you’ve knocked it out of the ballpark with a high quality post. Thanks!
I don’t have an award CC, but would love to earn more AA advantage miles for future trips(especially now that I have a vacation fund set up and operating). I am going to research this further and see if I too can take advantage of this.

Alexandra
Alexandra
11 years ago

Sounds like a big hassle.

I like reward cards, but don’t like being forced to shop at specific places to get the best rewards. I just want to be able to spend like I normally would and reap the benefits without having to jump through hoops.

This process sounds long, tedious, and no fun at all.

Jeff
Jeff
11 years ago

I have been using rewards credit cards for 95% of my monthly spending since I was 18. And honestly, I still couldn’t tell you what the interest rate is on either of my two rewards cards because I never carry a balance. As the article stated, if you carry a balance than these cards will kill you. However, I have paid about $50/year to keep these cards. I was just talking with my wife about this on our plane trip home from New York last week, which was paid for with miles earned from purchases (and a couple small plane… Read more »

Albert
Albert
11 years ago

The thing about rewards credit cards is that they’re still credit cards, which means a middle man–the credit card company–takes a small percentage of revenues from businesses for each transaction. The businesses, in turn, simply raise their prices a tiny bit to cover those costs, and so you end up paying the credit cards for whatever benefit “rewards” they give you. Middle men always make the transaction more expensive for both the business and customer because they take their cut. Rewards programs are pretty good ways to hide this fact and get people to use their credit cards more, eh?… Read more »

Kevin M
Kevin M
11 years ago

We don’t travel enough to make it worth the hassle. We use a Chase Freedom Signature Visa card that gives us 1% on everything and 3% on special items throughout the year. (It was better, but was recently changed.) We get cash anytime we have $50 or more accrued. They also have bonuses for shopping online through certain merchants, so I usually check those before buying.

J.D.
J.D.
11 years ago

Last night, Kris and I had dinner with Chris and Jolie Guillebeau from The Art of Non-Conformity. As many GRS readers know, Chris’ blog is one of my favorites. He travels all over the world, and he uses all sorts of “hacks” to accumulate frequent flyer miles. There’s no way I’m going to be able to explain all of the things he does (check out his website for an e-book on some of his tips), but we did get to laugh at one of his tricks. He’ll use a frequent-flyer card to order $8,000 of coins from the U.S. mint… Read more »

April
April
11 years ago
@Amy–You defintely don’t need a rewards card to get miles. If you don’t want another card, or if you just like the card you use now, you can still use the airline shopping portals and just pay with a regular credit card.

@J.D.–I literally laughed out loud when I read your comment. I subscribe to AONC. Sounds like I might need his ebook, although I don’t know if I could take $8,000 in coins to the bank! Wouldn’t they just hate you?! 🙂

The Frugal New Yorker
The Frugal New Yorker
11 years ago

Hm, this topic is really important to me. I would have appreciated some more explanation on what airline malls, shopping portals and Ebates are. Also, it strikes me that those places might charge more than places like Amazon. Are you really buying $55 worth of merchandise, or could you have gotten it cheaper elsewhere?

I recently read a sneaky account of how to rack up airline miles by opening and then canceling credit cards. Anyone know where that blog post was from?

Jess
Jess
11 years ago

I think we get hung up on the credit card issue, since there’s a good argument for just using a cash rewards credit card that has no annual fee, and then sticking the money in a high-yield savings account. But I think you point out a good reminder, which is that we should look toward our favorite retailers and see if we can shop through an airline’s website to get discounts as well as mileage points. Another thing that’s useful is consolidating your frequent flyer accounts. For example, though I’m a member of Iberia’s frequent flyer program, I transferred my… Read more »

Shane
Shane
11 years ago

I don’t like using CCs to get rewards. Basically, you have to spend money to earn rewards. That doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me. People use the idea of rewards to justify splurge spending, that’s the whole idea behind loyalty programs. Ironically, I work for a company that specializes in loyalty solutions for banks and other businesses. Our clients range from the big names such as Bofa and Wells Fargo, to the smaller local banks. I can guarantee you that the only reason these businesses buy our loyalty solutions is to make more money off the little… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
11 years ago

I definitely use a credit card rewards program. In just a few months I’ve earned several thousand points (making sure to pay off my balance at the end of every pay period, of course!)

I’ve really enjoyed April’s posts and her tying in of philosophy (like the “finding flow” in her previous post). She has a lot of practical advice. I hope to see more of her writing!

Sue
Sue
11 years ago

re Chris Guillebeau strategy: It is hilarious and I say this as someone who used to work in a bank. It’s so clever. But, if you plan on trying this, do it now. Now that it’s entering the realm of common knowledge, the feds are sure to clamp down on it. Also, don’t forget the large cash transaction reports that banks are required to file on all customers who deal in large amounts of cash. These reports are federal and meant to cut down on money laundering. So if you don’t mind having your name show up on some federal… Read more »

Foxie@CarsxGirl
11 years ago

I’ve got some frequent flier miles with NorthWest… From a trip to New Jersey and a subsequent one to England. I’ve tried to redeem them for something else (gift cards mainly) but can’t seem to do that. Only like 15,000 miles though, but hey, it might be enough to at least get a discount or something on tickets. 🙂 (I REALLY don’t fly often at all. Those two trips are the current extent of my airline travel.)

April
April
11 years ago

@lesley–There’s a site I’ve read about for Canadians, but I haven’t looked into it since I’m in the US. If you’re interested, check it out: http://www.rewardscanada.ca/frequentflyer.html. @The Frugal New Yorker–With airline portals, you are still shopping at the same store. In my example, I could either buy items by going directly to drugstore.com, OR I could get miles if I login to AA first and click to drugstore.com from there. The prices are the same. I’m not sure which article you read on ccs, but Steiger’s site has an extensive section on credit cards, including cancelling, but he seems to… Read more »

Hugh
Hugh
11 years ago

I pump all my normal bills I can through our cash back card. I know I buy things a little to easily online with CC too. I have used miles before for a family vacation before, but I remember the how hard that trip was too due to only two miles seats per plane (international partner). In the end, I’ll just pay for our next trip. I’ll take the cash.

Barb1954
Barb1954
11 years ago

If you are going to spend the money traveling or purchasing things, you might as well get some benefit from doing so. My husband and I rarely charge any personal expenses except for things we buy online, such as airline tickets, and the monthly charges for Netflix. When we do charge, we put it on a Master Card that gives us points for our locally-based airline. We use those points at least every other year to travel to different parts of the country to visit family. In addition, my husband travels all the time for business and to keep his… Read more »

Budgie
Budgie
11 years ago

JD, that is SO SMART what Chris did! Why didn’t I think of that? I’ve beaten many a retailer/bank at their own games using promotions to get things for free, so I’m proud of him. I have an AT&T Universal Card. A few years ago, it used to give me cash back in the form of a check, but they stopped that program after a very short time. Then it went to a point system where I got 5 points for every gas, grocery store, and drugstore purchase. I would redeem these points in the form of $100 gift cards… Read more »

Sandy E.
Sandy E.
10 years ago

Even though I’m traveling 4 times a year, I cannot and will not be bothered w/airline rewards cards that charge an annual fee, and trying to decipher all their rules and regulations and restrictions, which they’re allowed to change at any time at their whim. That’s not how I want to spend my time. It is seriously not how I want to spend my time. I use my USAA world master card w/no annual fee, and take the cash. I also have x amount of money transferred from my checking account to a travel fund each month, so when I… Read more »

Fred
Fred
10 years ago

I’ve tried them all, and the Southwest Visa card is the best reward program I’ve ever found. We even charge our son’s college tuition on it, which easily produces one free roundtrip a year. As others have mentioned, the key to making the rewards “free” are being able to pay it off every month in full. Unlike Delta, United and other airline programs which we have tried, Southwest generally has space available, and their agents are reachable and easy to deal with. Only 19,200 miles for a roundtrip, and with Southwest you can split the roundtrip reward tickets into two… Read more »

Becky
Becky
10 years ago

We have Capital One no hassle rewards. I like it. You buy your own ticket and they reimburse you for your points. Since the card doesn’t have any fees, I think it is a win/win situation for us all. They aren’t as generous when you go to use up the points, but it is totally up to you. I searched for the best price using Expedia, Orbitz, farecompare, etc. and then just get what I spent reimbursed. they subtract the points. I was able to fly my son to AK for his summer job using our points. #16. I disagree.… Read more »

S Muller
S Muller
10 years ago

I switched to a cash back card with no annual fee because it is almost impossible to use the airline miles.

Fiona
Fiona
10 years ago

I would love to know which frequent flier program allows 2 people to fly to Europe for only 80,000 miles total. All of the programs I’m in have just raised their per person amounts to 60,000 miles for one round trip.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
10 years ago

Like the other Tyler with an earlier comment, I’m skeptical about airline miles programs, and even more skeptical reading advice to accumulate them from someone who’s never used them. I’ve yet to see anyone actually get a free flight anywhere with them. If you can get two seats on the same flight, next to each other, to the destination you want, on the dates you want, I’ll be impressed, but like I said, I’m skeptical. Let me know if it ever happens, maybe I’ll take airline miles more seriously then. Also the notion that they call them “miles” is ridiculous.… Read more »

Amy
Amy
10 years ago

@Ann #7: What’s the benefit of keeping a card’s credit limit at $1000? That hurts your utilization (credit score); better to have a higher limit and not use it. ______________ I put everything on Discover or Amazon cards (Chase Visa) and get hundreds back each year. I’ll tweak my buying to take advantage of the quarterly 5% back or 10x points on whatever they’re offering (stuff I buy anyway!), plus if you shop through their websites you can get a lot of cashback, which is great for larger online purchases. The best deal this year was 10x points for recurring… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
10 years ago

Tyler K. (#35) wrote: I’m skeptical about airline miles programs, and even more skeptical reading advice to accumulate them from someone who’s never used them. I’ve yet to see anyone actually get a free flight anywhere with them. Oh good grief. I know many folks who have obtained free flights with airline miles. My cousin travels to Europe with airline miles that he accumulates. When she traveled for work, my sister-in-law racked up lots of airline miles that she used for free tickets. The afore-mentioned Chris G. travels all over the world with airline miles (and has written at least… Read more »

Sheila
Sheila
10 years ago

We used our rewards (Capital One) this spring on two round-trip tickets to Heathrow via Boston, two overnights in Boston and a rental car. The only thing we paid for was the stupid baggage fees on one airline. We did get seats together on all but one leg of the flight (the seats were across the aisle on that one), and we got the dates we wanted. We don’t pay an annual fee for the card, there were no blackout dates on the airlines, and we pay off the balance every month.

ebyt
ebyt
10 years ago

Good article. In Canada we have Air Miles and they can be redeemed for more than airline tickets. I used to put rent on my Air Miles credit card (which also had an annual fee – but was worth it), and earned enough Air Miles to get $50 gift cards every 6 weeks or so. I could probably have saved up for a flight somewhere nice quite fast, but I chose to use my “points” to go to restaurants or get clothing store gift cards instead. I still earn Air Miles thru grocery store promotions, the Yahoo! Air Miles toolbar…… Read more »

April
April
10 years ago

@Fiona–American Airlines offers round trip tickets to Europe for 40,000 miles during the off-peak season, which is Oct. 15-May 15 for Europe. Of course, they can change that, which is why we need to diversify.

@Sheila–Maybe I should check out Capital One. I’ve keep hearing good things about it!

Fiona
Fiona
10 years ago

That’s good to know about American airlines, especially since once I’ve used my miles with Northwest and Delta, I want to find a different airline – their customer service has gone completely downhill.

Klint
Klint
10 years ago

DO NOT DIVERSIFY YOUR MILES. While it is a good idea to have accounts with other airlines so that you can accrue miles if an opportunity exists, the only way to earn enough miles for frequent rewards travel is to pick one airline, learn the ins and outs of their rewards program, and exploit it to your advantage.

Sandy E.
Sandy E.
10 years ago

Here’s how credit card companies are winning by offering rewards. (You do know that they’re winning don’t you? Otherwise their programs would come to a screeching halt). They are encouraging you to spend more with reward $, and in so doing, they are raising the odds, which increases your risk, that eventually you will make a late payment or miss a payment, at which point they can charge a hefty late fee, and they are banking on the fact that you will carry a balance – maybe not every month, but one or two along the way. Some people will… Read more »

Shane
Shane
10 years ago

From my previous comment, my opinion against the credit card’s might also be because I recently paid off all my revolving debts. The battle has left me sour towards credit cards, and I have challenged myself to ditch credit completely once I buy my house.

If you’re good at sticking to your budget, then this could work really well for you. But most of the average people I see will balloon their expenses with rewards incentives.

It’s a good article for those who are skilled at extracting savings from credit card companies though.

Kim
Kim
10 years ago

I’ve found it very difficult to actually book a flight using reward points. Great if you have an absolutely flexible schedule and don’t mind leaving/arriving at odd times, if you can get a seat (or seats) AT ALL. I’d rather use a rewards/cashback card and put the cash I receive into an account earmarked for our vacation. Maybe it’s not quite as good a deal, but much less hassle in my book.

Trini
Trini
10 years ago

I had a recent experience with AA miles – my sister and I are planning an open-jaw trip from Ohio to London then from Amsterdam back to Ohio. Award miles travel can be nice for open-jaw trips because 2 one-way tickets are often more expensive than a round-trip ticket. However, we only gave AA 4 weeks’ notice, and the trip would have taken 8 extra hours to London, and required an overnight stay in Chicago on the way back. We found tickets from Chicago to Ohio for cheap (which would have saved us a hotel room), but after taxes of… Read more »

Bear
Bear
10 years ago

April – another great article – you still have my vote for #1! I’ve been doing this CC airmile thing for about 15 years now. I haven’t paid for an airline ticket in all that time!! That includes taking my kids on vacations and I travel worldwide. One STRONG word of caution – get rid of any card you have to pay money to get the miles. Another STRONG word of caution – DO NOT use airline cards. They lock you into one airline for your tickets AND getting flights that are even remotely convenient are a virtual impossibility. To… Read more »

Cely
Cely
10 years ago

Great post! April is my favorite candidate. I have an Alaska Airlines CC, and I fly several times a year on business or pleasure, so I’ve racked up a bunch of miles. I actually made it to MVP status this year, which means I now earn 1.5 miles for every mile flown. I just used miles for a R/T ticket to Miami to see my grandparents. Cost of the ticket was $5. This week, my bf used some Alaska miles to get 50% off a ticket to Mexico in November (15,000 miles + $277 for the ticket). I’m going on… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
10 years ago

@J.D. I don’t mean to imply that I think no one ever redeems airline miles, or that it’s impossible to ever get free flights out of them, but they seem a lot like mail-in rebates, which are specifically designed to be enough of a hassle to keep a lot of people from redeeming them. Chris G. as you mention redeems them all the time, but he’s essentially built a living on top of knowing all the ins and outs of airline miles systems. This is a level of dedication I’m not willing to commit. I should be able to go… Read more »

April
April
10 years ago

@Bear–Thanks for the vote! 🙂 When you say don’t get a card that requires you to pay money to get the miles, are you also referring to the annual fees? I would love to know what kind of card you use, if you don’t mind sharing. @Tyler–My boss earns AA miles the way I’ve described and never pays for a flight (or uses miles to upgrade). I’d love to do a follow-up on her experience redeeming miles, as my trip is over a year away. Right now she’s on her way to Europe. And I swear I’m not making that… Read more »

shares