Monthly Archives: October 2016

Accumulating Our Mileage Points

When we go to Australia and New Zealand, the four of us are flying business class from the US to the South Pacific.  The “cost” for that is 560,000 miles.  That’s 140,000 miles per person.  So how did we accumulate all those miles with the limited air travel we do?

Description Wife  Husband   Total 
Beg balance as of Sept 2014 (flying, credit card points) 50,000 119,088 169,088
Airline miles earned (various) 760 20,834 21,594
Bought miles (May 2016) 50,000 50,000
Mileage bonus (May 2016) 50,000 50,000
United card (Summer 2015) 55,000 55,000 110,000
Chase Sapphire points transfer (Sept 2016) 62,000 77,000 139,000
United card transactions (2015 – 2016) 14,137 8,732 22,869
Total Miles 281,897 280,654 562,551
Award Ticket cost (280,000) (280,000) (560,000)
Remaining Miles 1,897 654 2,551

The table above shows how we managed to accumulate those miles.  Between 2014 and September 2016 we managed to earn 393,463 miles.  When we had first started talking about this trip, my assumption was that we would pay for economy tickets and then use miles to upgrade to business class.  However, United has become stingy with their upgrades.  Many of them cannot be guaranteed.  Furthermore, to upgrade from Economy to Business on the cheapest fare would cost $600 each way plus 30,000 miles.  So, four all four of us to upgrade it would have cost us 240,000 miles plus up to $4800 in upgrade costs…on top of the cost of the airline ticket.

If you look at the table you’ll see that in September 2014, my husband and I only had around 170,000 points between us in our United accounts.  That wasn’t even enough for upgrades.  In the summer of 2015 I learned of an offer from United for one of their credit cards.  If you opened a new card and spent a certain amount of money within a certain time frame, you could earn up to 55,000 bonus points.  So my husband and I both signed up for those to get those miles.

Additionally – we have had a Chase Sapphire card since 2013.  I love that card.  The points earned on that card can be used on many different hotels and airlines.  So we primarily use that card, and then transfer miles when we need them.  The points can be transferred to Air France/KLM, British Airways,  Korean Air, Singapore KrisFlyer, Southwest, United, and Virgin Atlantic.  Additionally, points can be transferred to the following hotel companies: Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club/InterContinental Hotels Group, and Ritz-Carlton.  Like the United credit card offers, that card also came with a 50,000 sign up bonus.  So we accumulated roughly 160,000 points from credit card sign up bonuses.

It wasn’t until this past spring that I realized we may all be able to fly business class assuming I could find four award tickets on a flight to the South Pacific.  I was reading my email one morning and noticed that United had a deal going on that if you bought one mile, you’d get another one free.  I immediately called my husband at work and asked him how many miles were in his United account.  Then I calculated how many miles I thought we would earn in the next three months before we needed to buy tickets.  From there I determined the number of miles we needed to buy.  We needed approximately 100,000 miles.  The cost to buy 50,000 miles was around $1800…but that also got me the remaining 50,000 miles I needed.

Airline miles also made up a chunk of our miles pre-2014.  My husband and I have been saving our United miles for years, knowing that one day we’d like to use them to fly business class for a long flight somewhere.  My husband had to travel some for work in 2015 and as a result he was able to earn around 20,000 miles from that travel.

In conclusion, approximately 260,000 miles we obtained from credit card sign ups and buying points. The rest of our points came from flying and from various balances of miles we had accrued and transferred over to our accounts.  We essentially paid $2,100 for tickets that are valued at $28,000.  That’s cheaper than flying to Europe and almost the cost to fly a family of four to California.

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