Getting free or nearly free air tickets is something that's much desired by everyone, but how do you get your hands on those? You can win a raffle, grab a "free" ticket in a rare gimmicky sale by a budget airline, use your frequent flyer miles earned from flying, or use your credit card points and miles. Out of these possibilities, the most likely option for someone who doesn't fly once every few days is to use your credit card points and miles to redeem for free flights. And redeeming for free flights on premium cabins like Business or First Class will bring a wide grin to those who love a bit of luxury but would prefer not to fork out huge amounts of money for it.

In This Article:
There must be a way to hack the system
How to get free business class flights worth $54,000
Credit cards with attractive signing bonuses
Airline-specific credit cards
Use the right credit card to earn more than 1 mile per $1 spent
Compare credit cards
Shop through sites that give points or miles
Pay for everything using a credit card
Put business expenses on high earning cards
Getting free business class flights: you can do it too!

Back in 2007-2008, Grace and I traveled around the world for a year on a Round-the-World (RTW) ticket, without missing a day of work. As 2017 has come (marking 10 years since our last RTW), we thought we should do another RTW trip again - but this time with our two toddlers in tow.

Traveling as a family of four isn't cheap, especially if we want to travel in premium cabins. In my 20s, I could endure squeezing my tall frame into an Economy seat on the plane. When I hit 30, I began to appreciate and enjoy Business Class seats, especially for long-haul flights. Lie-flat beds are a bliss and life-saver for my legs. Pedro PlaPedro Pla

Business Class tickets aren't cheap, and if we want a special Round-the-World ticket for each of us, the costs would be eye-watering. We checked on the Star Alliance website and it costs a whopping US$54,000 for 4 RTW tickets on Business, excluding taxes and surcharges.


Enjoying the white sandy beaches


There must be a way to hack the system.

Over the years, I've used travel hacking as a way to enjoy luxury travel, without spending a lot of money on it. Travel hacking is all about collecting air miles and rewards points from credit cards and loyalty programs so that you can later redeem these points and miles for free or cheaper travel. It has been very popular among frequent flyers and avid travelers in recent years, especially in the US.

So in 2016, I made it my goal to earn One Million Miles through travel hacking so that we could redeem all these air miles for 4 RTW tickets on Business worth US$54,000 for our RTW trip in 2017. In short, we wanted to get these tickets for free.

Credit cards are indispensable to travel hacking; they come hand in hand. We built a tool to compare the best credit cards for miles and then applied for several to kick-start our points and miles accumulation at the start of the year.

Through careful and strategic planning and spending, we reached our goal of One Million Miles in September 2016 and redeemed 960,000 miles for our prized RTW Business Class tickets worth US$54,000 in October 2016. We'll be using these tickets to fly us and our two toddlers Ramses and Ranefer around the world to five continents over a six-month period starting January 2017.

Our biggest ally in getting these miles was the clever use of credit cards. By combining credit card signing bonuses and earnings multipliers on spending, we chalked up hundreds of thousands of credit card rewards points. We never carried a balance on any of the cards and always paid in full each month.

Those who are extreme travel hackers or super frequent flyers may think earning one million miles in a year is not much, but at the same time, it's also worth mentioning that it's not that easy to earn a million miles in a year.

This post is meant to be inspirational, so even if you do not need to reach a goal of a million miles, you can still aim for that dream premium-class upgrade or fly to a bucket-list destination for free or for much less money, just by earning credit card rewards points.

Once you have earned the desired quantity of rewards points or miles on your credit cards, you can transfer them to a frequent flyer program of your liking, such as United MileagePlus program, Delta SkyMiles program, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program, or American Airlines AAdvantage program, and so on. We booked our RTW ticket through Singapore Airlines as it has consistently been ranked as the top airline in the world.


1,000,123 frequent flyer miles

Here I'll share with you the travel hacks I used to accumulate a million miles.


How To Get Free Business Class Flights Worth $54,000

1. Apply for credit cards with attractive signing bonuses

Many credit cards in the US offer signing bonuses for new sign-ups. While there are some credit cards which give you free bonus points or miles when using your card for the first time, most require you to spend a certain amount within a certain period of time after you get your card. Because of this, it's important to time your card application carefully so that you can make sure you will be able to meet that minimum spend and get the signing bonus.


The credit cards below offer some of the best signing bonuses right now. You need very good to excellent credit in order to qualify for them.

If your goal is airline miles, it's important to choose a card that allows you to transfer points to the airline mile program you are looking at. All of the above cards allow 1:1 transfer of points to many airline programs including Singapore Airline's KrisFlyer program which we used. Other cards like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card call their rewards points 'miles', but they are not transferable to frequent flyer programs.


Ramses' flying for free on an a380 for his birthday

If you are interested in flying on United Airlines, Air Canada, Avianca, Lufthansa, ANA, SWISS, Singapore Airlines, etc, you may want to transfer your points to United's MileagePlus program which lets you use your award miles for any partner airline on the Star Alliance network.

You can check out the following posts on points redemption for miles on frequent flyer programs in the US:

6 Best Credit Cards that let you transfer points to frequent flyer programs

How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for air miles on frequent flyer programs

How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards Points for KrisFlyer miles on Singapore Airlines

How to redeem Citi ThankYou Points for KrisFlyer miles on Singapore Airlines

You can see more credit cards with bonus offers here.


There are also airline-specific cards with signing bonuses and miles that can only be used toward that airline. Like Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express which lets you earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months (Terms apply) and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card which has a bonus offer of 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

You can see more airline credit cards here.

If you own a small business, or are even a sole proprietor, you can consider getting a couple of business credit cards with large signing bonuses. You can compare the most popular business travel credit cards here.

A portion of our miles earned came from signing bonuses when we signed up for new credit cards. The total signing bonuses you can get if you choose the right cards will vary from 100,000 to 300,000 bonus points, depending on your creditworthiness and whether you qualify for business credit cards, in addition to personal cards.


2. Use the right credit card to earn more than 1 mile per $1 spent

If you're getting 1 mile for every dollar you spend, you will need to spend the massive amount of $1 million to get a million miles purely through spending, excluding signing bonuses. If you're earning 2 miles per dollar, that goes down by half to $500,000 of spending, and if you can get 3 miles per dollar, that goes down to $333,000 worth of spending. Of course, when you factor in signing bonuses, the amount you need to spend to earn the rest of the points and miles will go down. You get the gist.

The trick to earning more than 1 mile per $1 spent is to use the card that rewards you the most miles per dollar for each type of spend. While this sounds like perfect common sense, not everyone takes the time and effort to get acquainted with the different earnings rate of their cards. And when you don't do that, you can't maximise the earning of your credit card points.

Below I've listed the most common categories of spending and the card you could consider using:

Traveling: The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express gives 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines. Terms apply. See more airline credit cards here.

Dining out: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives 2x points when dining at restaurants worldwide. See more restaurant credit cards here.

Shopping: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express gives 2 points per $1 spent on US supermarket purchases (on up to $6,000). Additionally, if you make 20 or more purchases with your Card in 1 billing period, you can earn 20% extra points on those purchases. Terms apply. See more supermarket credit cards here.

This list is far from comprehensive. You can compare more cards using the tool below which we built to help us find the best credit cards for our needs.


Compare airline credit cards from partners that let you convert your rewards into actual miles on frequent flyer programs.

Compare airline credit cards from partners that let you convert your rewards into actual miles on frequent flyer programs.

Credit Card
Bonus Balance Transfer Intro APRRegular APR Balance Transfer Intro Period Balance Transfer FeeEstimated Balance Transfer Cost
This is an estimate of the total average interest that you'll pay based on how long you'll have this card, the balance transfer intro APR period and the balance transfer fee. You can easily adjust your settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Rates & FeesFeaturesEstimated Interest Over Two YearsWhy We Like ItWe Least LikeRelated Links
Credit Card
Bonus Intro APR Regular APR Intro APR Period Estimated Purchase APR
This is an estimate of the total average interest that you'll pay based on how long you'll have this card and the intro APR period. You can easily adjust your settings (like how long you'll have the card) by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Rates & FeesFeaturesEstimated Interest Over Two YearsWhy We Like ItWe Least LikeRelated Links
Credit Card
Bonus Bonus Value
We've calculated the estimated dollar value of points/miles cards based on their redemption rate.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Rewards Rate
Rewards are calculated based on the average of points/miles/cash back earned per $1 spent. The bonus offer and the annual fee are not added to this rate.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Total Rewards
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending minus the annual fee for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Total Rewards Air Miles
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Rates & FeesFeaturesEstimated Interest Over Two YearsWhy We Like ItWe Least LikeRelated Links
50,000miles
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
We've calculated the estimated dollar value of points/miles cards based on their redemption rate.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
1mile
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
102,800 miles
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value50,000 miles0 miles50,000 miles
Rewards From Spending26,400 miles26,400 miles52,800 miles
Annual Rewards76,400 miles26,400 miles102,800 miles
1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
APPLY NOW At Chase's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable

Annual Fee

Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Credit Required

Excellent Credit
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value50,000 miles0 miles50,000 miles
Rewards From Spending26,400 miles26,400 miles52,800 miles
Annual Rewards76,400 miles26,400 miles102,800 miles
1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Why we like it
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
60,000miles
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Terms Apply

1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
We've calculated the estimated dollar value of points/miles cards based on their redemption rate.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
1mile
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Earn 1X Membership Rewards® points for every eligible dollar you spend.

Terms Apply

1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
122,400 miles
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value60,000 miles0 miles60,000 miles
Rewards From Spending31,200 miles31,200 miles62,400 miles
Annual Rewards91,200 miles31,200 miles122,400 miles
1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
APPLY NOW At American Express' secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

N/A

Annual Fee

$550

Credit Required

Excellent/Good
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value60,000 miles0 miles60,000 miles
Rewards From Spending31,200 miles31,200 miles62,400 miles
Annual Rewards91,200 miles31,200 miles122,400 miles
1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Why we like it
  • Rewards program.
  • Platinum benefits.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
30,000miles
Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days.

1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
We've calculated the estimated dollar value of points/miles cards based on their redemption rate.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
2mile
Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
108,000 miles
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value30,000 miles0 miles30,000 miles
Rewards From Spending39,000 miles39,000 miles78,000 miles
Annual Rewards69,000 miles39,000 miles108,000 miles
1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
APPLY NOW At Barclaycard's secure website

Intro APR

0% on balance transfers for first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to account within 45 days of account opening

Regular APR

12.99%, 20.99% or 25.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$99

Credit Required

Excellent
  • Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue-operated flights. Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don't expire
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember's first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights
  • Enjoy TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases each calendar year with your card
  • Enjoy a $100 statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value30,000 miles0 miles30,000 miles
Rewards From Spending39,000 miles39,000 miles78,000 miles
Annual Rewards69,000 miles39,000 miles108,000 miles
1 point can be redeemed for 1 mile on participating airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Why we like it
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember's first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights.
60,000miles
For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
We've calculated the estimated dollar value of points/miles cards based on their redemption rate.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
1mile
Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*.
103,200 miles
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value60,000 miles0 miles60,000 miles
Rewards From Spending21,600 miles21,600 miles43,200 miles
Annual Rewards81,600 miles21,600 miles103,200 miles
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
APPLY NOW At Citi's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.99% - 24.99%* (Variable)

Annual Fee

$95, waived for first 12 months*

Credit Required

Excellent, Good
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases¹
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value60,000 miles0 miles60,000 miles
Rewards From Spending21,600 miles21,600 miles43,200 miles
Annual Rewards81,600 miles21,600 miles103,200 miles
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Why we like it
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*.
50,000miles
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
We've calculated the estimated dollar value of points/miles cards based on their redemption rate.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
1mile
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
93,200 miles
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value50,000 miles0 miles50,000 miles
Rewards From Spending21,600 miles21,600 miles43,200 miles
Annual Rewards71,600 miles21,600 miles93,200 miles
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.

Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
APPLY NOW At Citi's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.74%-24.74%* (Variable)

Annual Fee

$450

Credit Required

Excellent
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and guests with you*
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
REWARDS OVER 2 YEARS 1ST YEARPER YEARTOTAL
Bonus Value50,000 miles0 miles50,000 miles
Rewards From Spending21,600 miles21,600 miles43,200 miles
Annual Rewards71,600 miles21,600 miles93,200 miles
The card's total rewards are calculated by adding the bonus value to the estimated rewards you earn on your spending for the years you'll have this card. You can easily adjust your spending amounts and other settings by using the menu on the left.
Disclaimer: These results are calculated by GET.com and are not provided by any of the companies mentioned. They have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Why we like it
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*.
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and guests with you*.
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Reindeer sledding in the arctic circle

3. Shop through sites that give points or miles

There are quite a few shopping and travel booking sites that reward you with miles or points transferable to your preferred loyalty program.

Doing so will allow you to earn additional miles to what you will be earning through your credit card for the purchase. That means you will earn twice - once through your credit card and once through these sites.

One of our favorite sites to book hotels is Kaligo, which allows you to earn miles on every hotel booking you make. We've found some hotel bookings that earn tens of thousands of miles and those can really move you forward toward your miles goal. Just be aware that they are not always the cheapest, and it's good to compare with other hotel booking sites to see if it is worth booking through them for the miles. Kaligo works with United MileagePlus, American Airlines AAdvantage, Virgin America elevate, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and many other miles programs.

Such sites typically give you the most miles for the most expensive rooms, but cheaper rooms also give you a decent amount of miles as well. If you don't chase elite status on hotel loyalty programs, or if you are booking a hotel that's not part of your preferred chain, earning extra miles through these booking sites can give your mileage goal a good boost.

Many airlines also have dedicated shopping sites where you can log in, shop on merchants they are affiliates of, and earn miles on every purchase you make. Just note that if you use coupons not found on these sites, you may not get any miles.

Some credit card issuers also have shopping sites that give you additional points for shopping through them. One of our favourite ones is Chase's 'Shop through Chase®' online shopping portal which lists over 200 retailers and where you can get 1%-15% extra cash back.


Learning about lion kills in the Masai Mara, Kenya

4. Pay for everything using a credit card

When you use cash, you lose cash. It's the same for a debit card. Cash and debit cards don't give you any additional savings or rewards when you pay using them.

I try to use a credit card to pay for everything, ranging from everyday spending to big-ticket purchases. As I pay my credit card bills in full and on time each month, I don't incur any interest charges and I get to earn points and save more.

If you have a big-ticket expense coming up, such as renovating your house, buying electronic equipment such as a computer or signing up for a gym or spa package, consider timing it with the signing up of a new credit card, or using a card that gives the most miles per dollar for that type of expense. It's very important that if you do this, you either pay your credit card bill in full by the due date, or put it on a 0% intro APR card to avoid hefty interest fees. When used wisely, credit cards are just a mode of payment which rewards you on your spending.

If you know you won't be able to pay an expense in full at the end of the month, there are cards that offer 0% introductory APR on purchases for a certain period of time, and still give you miles on your spending. Just make sure to pay it off in full before the 0% intro period is over.

You can also pay for things like taxes and mortgage repayments on a credit card, although there will be an additional fee you will have to pay when using a credit card for payment.

Paying taxes using a credit card will incur a processing fee ranging from 1.87% to 2.25%, depending on which payment processor you use. If you use a tax software that comes with an e-file or e-pay option, the fee will range from 2.35% to 3.93%. For example, TurboTax charges a convenience fee of 2.49%.

Paying your taxes with your credit card could be beneficial to you if you need to reach that minimum spend in order to get those signing bonuses, just remember to either pay off your card bill in full by the due date, or use a card that has a 0% intro APR on purchases. To fully maximise your miles or points earned from this transaction, save them for a long-haul flight on either Business or First Class.

5. Putting business expenses on high earning cards

Whether you are a sole proprietor or small business owner, you can try applying for business credit cards, in addition to consumer credit cards. Some business credit cards in the US have pretty attractive signing bonus offers which you can take advantage of. You can check out the best small business credit cards here.

As we have high business expenses, it's quite easy to reach the minimum spend requirements in order to get the signing bonuses. We also try to get rewarded as much as possible for as much of the spending as we can.

To do this, we typically use different business credit cards depending on which has the highest rewards for the different types of expenses we have. Sometimes we also use a personal credit card for business expenses if the rewards are higher than those offered on our business credit cards,; and then we just reimburse ourselves using the invoices for those expenses.

Here are some business credit cards which currently have lucrative signing bonuses:

  • Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business currently gives a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN gives you 50,000 points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. What I particularly like about this card is that you get 3X points on one selected category of your choice (out of 5 categories): Airfare, Advertising, Gas Stations, Shipping and Computer Hardware and Software. Terms apply.

Getting Free Business Class Flights: You Can Do It Too!

To earn 1,000,000 air miles purely from flying, it would take 14 RTWs (average distance of 35k miles each) on Business at 200% mileage earn rate or 28 RTWs on Economy with 100% mileage earn rate, for example. This would have been very expensive, not to mention extremely tiring and time-consuming to take 28 RTWs flights just to get 1 free.

Here's how we booked the 4 Free RTW Business Class Flights.

Our story on CNBC

All the strategies which I've shared above can be easily used by anyone to earn miles faster in order to save towards a travel goal. Even if you aren't in the US, you can also use the same strategies in many other countries like the UK, Australia, or Singapore, just to name a few.

The key thing is to sign up for credit cards which offer huge signing bonuses, and then meet the minimum spending requirements to earn those bonus miles or points. Many premium credit cards require you to have very good to excellent credit and may also require a minimum annual income, so do your research before you apply for any card. GET.com's guide to the best credit cards in America will come in handy for those of you looking for the best cards to get.


Is this your dream holiday destination?

You don't need to aim for a million miles. It really all depends on what your travel goal is, and your individual spending habits. You can aim for a short or long haul award flight, or a free upgrade to premium cabins - that's up to you. Different airlines have different amount of miles need for award redemption.

For example, on United, you need 50,000 miles to redeem for a Saver round-trip award flight from the US to Europe on Business (or 70,000 miles on First). On American Airlines, you need 115,000 AAdvantage miles to redeem for a MileSAAver round-trip award flight from the US to Europe on Business (or 170,000 miles on First). Fancy flying on Singapore Airlines from San Francisco to Singapore? You'll need 160,000 KrisFlyer miles to redeem for a round-trip Business Saver award ticket (240,000 miles for a Business Standard).

While there's no such thing as 100% free air tickets (as you'll still need to fork out for taxes and surcharges), you can certainly travel almost for free, like we do!

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