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Earning a Sign-Up Bonus Quickly — Reader Success Story

Nov. 09, 2016
5 min read
Earning a Sign-Up Bonus Quickly — Reader Success Story
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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives — the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.

I like to share these success stories to help inspire you the way you inspire me! From time to time I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you're interested in sharing your own story, email it to; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!

Recently, I posted a success story from Michael, who avoided long delays by taking advantage of some flexible airline booking policies. Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Harris, who was able to maximize a sign-up bonus by adjusting his credit card statement closing date. Here's what he had to say:

Harris visited Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong by redeeming AAdvantage miles before this year's devaluation.

When my wife and I moved to Dallas, we realized we needed to switch airline loyalty to American Airlines. We wanted to plan a dream trip to Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong, but at the time it was the end of February, and American was set to devalue AAdvantage miles on March 22. With only a month to spare, it didn't seem like we had enough time to apply for a card, meet the spending requirement, and earn the sign-up bonus in time to book at the lower rates. However, we found a way.

My wife and I each applied for an AAdvantage credit card, which arrived a few days later. We had a bunch of expenses from our move to Dallas, so we met the minimum spend requirement quickly. We then called customer service and asked to move up our statement closing dates to March 7 (which matched our other credit cards). Because our first statement closed so quickly, we each received our sign-up bonus on March 10, less than two weeks after receiving our cards in the mail.

Thanks to an earlier transfer bonus from SPG to American Airlines, we already had 90,000 AAdvantage miles on hand. Adding the miles from our sign-up bonuses, and factoring in the 10% rebate on mileage redemptions provided by our AAdvantage cards, we had the 200,000 miles we needed for business class flights to Japan (on American) and back from Hong Kong (on Cathay Pacific). These flights would have cost over $20,000 if we had paid cash.

My wife and I have been blessed in many ways to be able to travel the world, but we know it would be much harder without TPG, and we thank you for all you do!

A loyalty program devaluation tends to create a flurry of award activity, as members try to spend points and miles at the lower rates while they still can. Harris and his wife were able to do just that, and it paid off nicely. In March, the price for one-way business awards from North America to Japan increased from 50,000 miles to 60,000, and the return trip from Hong Kong back to the US went up from 55,000 miles to 70,000. That means their shrewd planning saved them a total of 50,000 miles — worth $750 based on my most recent valuations.

Harris and his wife had nothing to lose by cutting it so close, since they ultimately could have just paid more for the same flights. When a devaluation isn't imminent, however, I recommend giving yourself a bit more lead time to earn the rewards you need. Most credit card sign-up bonuses show up in your account soon after your statement closes (once you've met the minimum spending requirement), but card agreements typically specify a longer wait, so there's no guarantee.

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Harris and his wife visited Sukiyabashi Jiro during their trip to Japan.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Harris for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course), and I’d like to do the same for you.

Again, if the strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions above). You’ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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