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Tale of Earning 55,000 Miles With No New Credit Card Sign-Ups

August 27 2016
6 min read
Tale of Earning 55,000 Miles With No New Credit Card Sign-Ups
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This is a guest post from my dad, Grandpa Points. He and my mom are in their 60’s, are (mostly) retired,

and are ticking off “bucket list” destinations quicker than they ever thought possible thanks to miles, points, and travel deals. They have an intense love of this country, of its National Parks and treasures, and have no problem with a clean budget hotel room and an economy airline seat on a budget airline as long as it gets them where they want to be. This time he isn't sharing stories and photos from their adventures, but rather he is sharing how they are earning miles towards future bucket list trips!

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Tale of Earning 55,000 Miles With No Credit Card Sign-Ups

Probably like most of the Mommy Point readers, our biggest miles and points acquisitions through the years have come through credit card sign up bonuses. It is just usually the best way to get a quick and substantial stash of 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 and even 100,000 miles/points in one swoop. Apply for the appropriate card, get approved, follow the spending requirements, pay the card balance off each month, and get the miles/points credited to your account for future travel needs and expenses. It is Rewards Credit Card 101.

100,000 points from one card is amazing, but it's not the only way...

We occasionally sign-up for new rewards credit cards and their sign-up bonuses (Mommy Points says we really need to get the 100,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve!), but in the past 8 months we have acquired 55,000 miles without getting new credit cards through two AAdvantage Aviator Card (former US Airways MasterCard) promotions, and one instance of making a silk purse out of a cow's ear situation.

The first AAdvantage Aviator Card offering was received in November of last year. The deal was a 30,000 mile bonus if you played by the rules for 6 months. The basic obligation was to spend a minimum of $2,500 on the card each and every one of those months. We decided that we would just make the American Airlines plastic our "go to" card for our normal everyday expenses. We moved several monthly automatic charges like insurance, internet, Country Club dues, and cable onto the AA card.

We would check each month in our online account to be sure we were on track to hit our quota and a few times Mommy Points would charge something on the card to give us a cushion. We found that we were spending about $2700 a month. American Airlines would send us e-mail reminders that we were doing great and to keep up the good work. And we did. We never bought anything unusual or out of the ordinary just to reach "the number". We successfully accomplished our goal, and the 30,000 bonus miles posted on our account about 6 weeks after the promotion ended.

The second AA offer was received by my wife on her AAdvantage Aviator Card just as the above offer was ending. I felt like it was a better and easier to achieve enticement. The stipulations were a 15,000 mileage bonus for spending $500 a month for 3 months. That figured out to 11 mile/points per dollar spent. Piece of cake. Piece of delicious cake. We have completed our part of the deal and are awaiting our bonus miles to post...yippee!

We can imagine using these free miles on an American Airlines flight from Houston to Oregon and Washington for an anticipated bucket list trip in 2017. Paying attention to these targeted promotions as they come via the US Post Office or in our inboxes has really paid off for us.

Free air to the Pacific Northwest. We like free.

Our final 1o,ooo miles miles (which perhaps surprisingly is worth two round trips to us) did not come our way via a promotion, nor was it a bonus offer. But they did result from the proper and beneficial use of a credit card when you are dealt a bad hand in the everyday job of living life.

A few weeks ago we got one of those dreaded phone calls from a tenant of one of our rent houses. The air conditioning stopped working. In August. In Texas. During a heat wave. On a Sunday. The unit turned out to be "fried" and needed replacing. Not what we wanted to hear in August, in Texas, during a heat wave, and on any day including Sunday. However, when it came time to pay the air conditioning piper, we casually asked if the company took credit cards. We did not expect the YES answer that they responded with as this was a small, local, family owned company we were dealing with. We quickly pulled out our Spirit MasterCard and put the $5,000 charge on it.

The Spirit MasterCard pays 2 miles for every dollar spent, so this necessary expenditure netted us 10,000 Spirit Miles. Now, to be perfectly honest, I would much rather have the $5,000 back, but that was not, is not, an option. So, we made the most out of a bad situation and with that 10,000 miles we can both fly for free on a round trip (2,500 miles each way for cardholders on saver date) to Vegas next spring to ski, or see Death Valley, or catch a show, or do all the above.

We recognize that we are small time players in this miles and points world and that we have much to learn. But, we are proud of these extra miles we have picked up and will be smiling broadly when we put them to use. Now, if we can just get lucky with the United Airlines Mileage Plus Explorer Card Billion Mile Give Away...

Hawaii, anyone? Aloha!