Hacking the Mile and Points game is not as easy as it seems

Map built with gcmap.com

Map built with gcmap.com

Consider for a moment, that you need to get to Cairo from Washington, DC. Here are your options:

  • Your shortest path option is Washington to New York to Cairo (Pink)
  • Slightly longer, is flying Washington to Abu Dhabi to Cairo (Red)
  • Longer still is flying Washington to London to Frankfurt to Doha to Cairo (Gray)
  • The longest and perhaps counter-intuitive, is Washington to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Singapore to Dubai to Cairo (Navy).

Now before you start calculating the cost per mile, cost per elite qualifying mile, or cost per elite qualifying point, let me stop you (although if you were, I like where your head is at). This is just a metaphor.

For the purposes of the metaphor, lets think of Pink as the easiest (but perhaps not painless), that is, you earn miles from miles flown (in theory, since Delta, United and now British Airways don’t really give mile for mile).

The Red line is slightly harder, lets consider┬áthat line applying for credit cards, then meeting minimum spend. Shawn at Miles to Memories notes that for him, the time to meet sign-on bonuses is still worth his time. I do too – although I’m not sure I’d make it sound as simple (probably more my style).

The Gray line is starting to get harder, this is manufactured spending, gift cards, the like. You’re clearly committed to generating miles now. You’re starting to wonder if or how you can hide your Manufactured Spend from your Credit Report, as Doctor of Credit wondered. You’re probably sharing Marathon Man’s feelings on how many “gigs” we lost in 2014.

The Navy line is for the really committed. You’re reselling, you might be stacking that on top of manufactured spending (I know I do), you’re churning credit cards, maybe you’re even flying for the miles (again, totally me). You’re getting the Southwest Companion pass because the shopping portals have nice bonuses. You’re starting to run out of the great cards, so maybe you pick up the Hawaiian card like I did a few churns ago, and are still trying to figure out how to use the 35k or more Hawaiian miles (I still haven’t, but I’m thinking Hilton).

Wrapping Up

The point really of this post is to say that (1) manufactured spending is not easy, (2) there are plenty of paths to tons of miles available. Suffice it to say though, you really have to choose the path that works best for you. No option is without a time commitment, either.


2 thoughts on “Hacking the Mile and Points game is not as easy as it seems

  1. Nice write up Trevor. I liked how you put it all together with the aid of the map, much more visual to understand your point!

    • @Aptraveler – Thanks! I’ve found its always easier to explain with a picture. Without it, it just makes folks’ heads spin.. ok maybe with it too.

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