There’s a common strategy among travelers to gather lots of frequent flyer miles so they can fly nearly free (often in Business or First) to any destination in the world.
The strategy isn’t particularly mind blowing: sign up for credit cards with big frequent flier miles bonuses after you spend $X. Often the bonus is 25,000 – 50,000 miles, enough for a one way Business class ticket to Europe. I’ve done this a few times and it is a world of difference flying in international Business vs Economy.
But the sticking point is the minimum spend. It can often be $3,000 within 90 days. If you’re signing up for 5-10 cards (as many often do) you’re looking at a huge cash outlay. Most of us don’t spend anywhere near that amount in 90 days.
In the old days you could just buy dollar coins from the US Mint (which were shipped to your door for free) and then deposit them in your bank account before your credit card bill even came. I’m told that doesn’t work anymore.
What else can you buy and sell quickly?
How about luxury goods? For example, Rolexes. (Check out Tynan’s guide to buying a Rolex.)
A Rolex will hold its value pretty well, especially in the short term. So you can buy a used Rolex on eBay (charging it to your airline miles card) and then resell it before you get your bill. Depending on how low you buy and how high you sell you might make or lose a bit of money. But let’s say you lose $200 and earn enough points for an international Business class flight that costs $2k+. Is that worth it to you?
You can do this with other goods, but for ease of use and minimum time I think small luxury goods (anything that costs $1,000+, has a large resale market, and ships small) are the way to go.
Bonus tip: use Amazon Payments as outlined here.