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Free Travel through Airline Mileage Credit Cards

Friends always ask me how I am able to fly around the world so much redeeming my miles. I tell them it’s because of credit cards, but it’s not that I’m spending over $100,000 USD each year racking up miles, it’s due to the bonuses for signing up for a new card.

One of the few and nice benefits of being a U.S. citizen is the access to ample credit at low or no cost. This holds true for credit cards (assuming you don’t hold a balance.) Since the U.S. is such a competitive marketplace, credit card companies will throw tons of incentives at you to sign up for their products, including airline miles and hotel points. In fact, I think since the financial crisis, they’ve lost a lot of their revenue and need to throw more incentives at people, so I’ve being seen 25,000 bonus miles as a normal signup bonus, as opposed to maybe 10,000 miles a few years ago. Sometimes these bonuses go up to 50,000 or 100,000 upon first purchase or a minimal spending amount.

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for 5 different credit cards:

Each of these cards will provide the bonus points upon first use of the card, so I can literally charge $1 and get bonus points. For the AA Citi card, they require $3,000 USD spending in 4 months which is not a huge amount of money and they give you enough time to rack that up.

Assuming I meet the requirements to get these miles I’ll have after 4 months

  • Alaska Airlines: 25K miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 60-75K miles
  • United Airlines: 30K miles
  • American Airlines: 50K miles

Of course if I already had miles with any of these programs they would be added to my existing balance, but assuming I don’t have any miles with any of these programs I can still redeem some great trips.

Example redemptions:

Alaska: Cathay Pacific: coach intra-asia roundtrip ticket 25K American Airlines or Alaska: coach roundtrip within continental 48 US states 25K

Hawaiian Airlines: Korean Airlines: 2 roundtrip coach within Asia or 1 first/business roundtrip 60K Hawaiian Airlines: 1 one-way coach between Japan, Korea, or Philippines and Hawaii

United Airlines: Thai Airways / United: 1 roundtrip coach within South Asia region 25K

American Airlines: American Airlines: 1 roundtrip coach between US and Japan during off-peak 50K Qantas: 1 roundtrip coach between Asia 2 (HKG) and South Pacific (Australia, Easter Island, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Tonga, Republic of Vanuatu, American Samoa and Samoa.)

As you can see, you can travel for free just by using these credit card bonuses. You can avoid any annual fees by canceling before the year is up. For travel between HKG and the US or Europe usually you’ll need a few more miles, around 60-70K, so if you have some already in the program and add these bonuses on top, it should get you there.

4 Responses
  • Sandra
    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    That’s too bad. I also couldn’t find any good deals.
    How about the US cards? Is it possible to get them without being a US citizen? Are there any options?
    Thanks, Sandra

  • Sandra
    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    do you have any recommendations how to get credit cards with free miles when you are based in Hong Kong and do not have US citizenship?
    Are there any good HK credit cards?
    Thanks, Sandra

    • HKTravelBlog
      Wednesday, September 12, 2012

      Hi Sandra,

      I totally hear ya and wish HK had some great credit cards for free miles. Unfortunately, HK is really stingy when it comes to sign-up bonuses and you’re better off getting a card usually from the US, Canada, UK, etc. Let me do a posting in the coming weeks comparing some local mileage cards, but honestly they’re not that great.

      DBS has one if you spend $4,000 HKD you get a 2,000 mile bonus.

      CX has the Amex card, $8,000 = 8000 miles sign-up promo.

      That’s about it that I can think of off the top of my head. Nothing like the 25K, 50K bonus miles you’ll get in the other countries just for using the card once.

      • HKTravelBlog
        Friday, September 14, 2012

        You don’t have to be a citizen, but generally you’ll need a social security number since credit reports are tied to that in the US.

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