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Start racking up those miles

Since we may not be travelling (much) anywhere in the near future, it's time to consider accruing airline status and FF miles. Ironically the hardest way to do that these days is by flying; the easiest way is to get a credit card. Now I'm not a financial advisor and don't know your situation, but for a buy-in of about $4000 charged to a card over a few months you can get somewhere between 60K and 100K miles, and you can do a lot with those miles. If nothing else, you can buy a cheap-ish economy ticket and upgrade to premium econ or business with the miles.

Plus with most of these cards you automatically get gold level status with Hilton, Marriott, Hertz and Avis. Other benefits include things like credit to spend on the plane, free Global Entry, Uber credits each month, lounge access, etc. Spend some time at the Points Guy and look at his suggestions. If you definitely know you'll be flying just one airline, or one alliance, focus on that. For most folks it makes more sense to get highly transferable miles on an Amex Platinum or a Chase Sapphire card. Again YMMV.

I find the easiest way to meet the required spend on a card is to put a big-ticket item on it, like property tax or income tax. You'll pay a convenience fee of say 2% but factor that into what you get in return. And make sure you are in the airline's FF plan before you board the plane!

Posted by
174 posts

American Airlines Aviator card offers 60000 miles- free trip to Europe for one purchase and the $99 yearly fee.

Posted by
698 posts

I do love accruing miles on my Amex for Delta and Citi for American. I use my cards responsibly for everything I purchase, including food, gas, etc. It doesn't have to be a big-ticket item, those daily purchases add up over the months. I am a teacher and consider myself a budget traveler. I have had at least five round trips to Europe using points. Just this past September, I cashed in 80,000 points for two round trip tickets from Chicago to London for June 2022. Honestly, I found a bargain but it was the only way I could reasonably afford for my daughter and her college friend to join us on a trip to England this year.

I have encouraged all my friends to use their airline CC for points. We are all looking forward to using points again for an RS trip to Italy in October - I have about 20,000 points to go but I know I will get there using points!


Posted by
2818 posts

Will the IRS take a credit card for income tax?

Posted by
1294 posts

While I agree and use credit cards for their benefits I will urge a bit of caution. If you don’t pay off your card in full each month financing fees make make the miles very expensive.

Posted by
10943 posts

The IRS will take a credit card but there is an extra fee.

I've been accruing miles and points for years. Just today I flew from London to NYC, in first class, using miles.

My hotel this evening is free because the hotel chain's credit card offers me one free night per year as a bonus. (The credit card annual fee is $99. The hotel would otherwise cost $200. I just saved $100.)

The sign up bonuses are the key. As long as you pay off the balance each month, it's only a plus to have them.

Posted by
306 posts

The IRS will take a credit card for tax payments, unless you are in the cannabis industry, then it's cash-only.

You have to pay your credit card's transaction fee, so it's generally not worth the cost.

Posted by
565 posts

We use the Platinum Amex and it is amazing how easy the miles rack up. We have used these for flight to Europe numerous times, for our entire family. We were talking just the other night that we need to start planning more trips so we can use these. The only downside is we tend to like the smaller hotels, which means we often times cannot use points for those stays.

I am also thinking that we may gift some of these to the kids for their honeymoons.

Posted by
5766 posts

It is really not just miles and points. If you carefully choose the cards, the amenities that come with the cards are worth the card yearly fee...if they match the way you travel.

I don't play the credit card shuffle game...get a card to collect the generous introductory offer, use it a bit, then on to the next card. Going back to the days of my business travel, I chose a Delta AMEX, since I flew Delta most often, and an IHG Hotel card since they have a nice selection of hotels. While I could not use the cards for business travel (corporate card had to be used) having the airline and hotel card meant that the miles and points never expired.

Add to that eliminating baggage fees, some travel priority, a number of travel benefits, mine gets me free access to the Delta Clubs.

Also in addition to miles, mine also gains me some Medallion qualification miles, such that, with my spending, roll over MQMs, and MQMs earned flying, I am able to maintain Delta status, which then gets me frequent upgrades (to Delta Comfort on nearly every overseas trip). There is also some skill in taking advantage of offers and achieving certain levels of spend that can multiply miles earned greatly.

Posted by
8265 posts

Delta miles are now devalued to 1-cent. I prefer a non-airline affiliated card with points that can transfer to many different airline because you can find better values than on Delta. A fee-free card that refunds 2-cents per dollar is a sure value.

Posted by
747 posts

I recently got an offer for the Amex Platinum card. It's tempting, despite the hefty annual fee ($695). One question: When using points to book flights, are you booking direct with the airlines or through Amex? If through Amex, how do you handle the inevitable flight issues? Do you have to go through Amex to handle problems are do you deal directly with the airlines?

Posted by
180 posts

You can book through Amex but your points usually go much further if you book through the airline directly and just transfer points. If you book through Amex and have an issue, it would be like any other OTA. You’d need to go through Amex first but if you have your booking reference number associated with the airline (it would be different than the one associated with Amex) the airline’s customer service usually can help.

Posted by
2396 posts

The nice thing about using Amex Travel is you can do points and cash, to get to where you want to be.

There used to be sites devoted to manufactured spending, ways to meet that initial purchase requirement and then keep racking up the miles. They seem to have disappeared, I guess it's not as easy as it used to be.

And as noted, please don't even start to do this if you're on shaky financial ground, or if a brand new credit card will be too tempting to you. But it's a great way to get "free" miles.