I’ve had a couple people ask me the past few days how I’m earning points these days. I figured it might be worthwhile to highlight some of the main ways that I continue to generate miles/points. You can also check out my Travel Hacking 101 Guide, which has additional information.
The first and most effective way that I continue to earn miles is through credit card sign up bonuses. Banks offer you X amount of miles if you spend Y amount of $ on your new credit card. In the past 12 months, we’ve earned roughly around 600,000 miles/points just on signup bonuses alone. Based on some rough estimates, that’s worth over $12,000 in travel. This is by far the easiest and most effective way to generate miles/points.
Obviously the downside to this method is that it isn’t really scalable. There is something called churning, which you apply for the same credit card over and over again to get the sign up bonus, but banks have been cracking down on this lately. So basically once you get a credit card’s sign up bonus, you probably won’t be able to get it again (there are some exceptions).
The second method I am using to generate points is reselling. What exactly an am I reselling? Pretty much anything that can be purchased with a credit card and sold at breakeven or a small profit. Reselling is more scalable than signup bonuses, but takes more legwork on the back end.
The main thing I’ve been reselling lately is gift cards. You can buy store gift cards (i.e. Best Buy, GAP, iTunes, etc.) at a discount when stores have sales. Then you sell them at a similar discount to gift card resellers. I’ve generated over 350,000 miles from gift card reselling. Processing these gift card purchases and sales does take some time, but you do occasionally make some profit as well. It’s basically a side hustle for me.
There’s also ticket and product reselling. I’ve dabbled in these areas, but find that they tend to be too much work for not much profit. Unless there is a crazy good deal or game/show/concert, I typically don’t earn too many points/miles off this method.
We use our credit cards for pretty much everything. If they accept credit card, you better believe we are going to pay with a credit card. We rarely use cash. I personally find it much easier to track our expenses with a credit card compared to cash. Every little bit counts. There’s really no point in using a debit card when you could at least get 1-2% back when using a credit card.
Everyday spending has probably generated roughly 25,000 in points/miles. The trick is to know which cards to use at which stores based on bonus categories.
This third method is referred to as manufactured spending. The basic concept is you buy a Visa/Mastercard gift card and then use that prepaid debit card to buy a cash equivalent like a money order. You then deposit that money order into a bank account (ideally not one that you have credit cards with). Then use that money to pay off your credit card balance.
It’s called manufactured spending because in essence you’re not really actually spending any of your own money. Of course you are spending money on the fees on the prepaid debit cards and the money order fee so you’ll have to calculate whether the points you earn from purchasing those prepaid debit cards are worth those ~$7 in fees.
Oh yeah I almost forgot about this one. If you have paid flights or paid hotel stays, you also earn points from these travel expenses. I’m not talking about the points you earn from credit card spend, but rather the points you earn from the airline or hotel itself. I had spending real money so I actually don’t have many paid flights or hotel stays. Hotels and airlines sometimes run promotions that will allow you to earn bonus points. Be sure to keep an eye out to earn more points this way. This year I’ve probably earned only 15,000 points/miles from paid travel.