Thinking Differently About Airline Miles Credit Cards

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 tipuse Amazon Payments as outlined here.

{ 3 comments… add yours }

Tom

Brilliant! I feel like an idiot for not thinking this one step further. I got in on the gold Sacajawea $1 mint game literally the week before it got shut down. I had an order in (for my cash-back credit card’s limit), and then got the email from the Mint that the game was canceled. I’m going to begin this immediately. I have done something similar with craigslist/amazon/ebay arbitrage, but never considered the credit card advantage to selling medium-ticket items like Rolex or maybe Macbook Airs.

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Michael Smith

I have done this a few times by using the card(s) for paying existing business expenses like hosting and VAs. I have heard of buying gift cards using the airline credit card and then using the gift cards to pay for rent and other living expenses.

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Matthew Bailey

In Canada, we don’t have quite as many credit card deals as the states but after starting my own travel hacking club, I’v found 4 credit cards last year that netted me 90,000 points.
1 was a $75 fee for 25,000 points instantly. amazing
1 was for spending $500 in 3 months. Easy. Groceries.
1 was for one puchase $2 coffee. done.
and 1 was $3K in 3 months. thats the tough one for me. But luckily I needed a new macbook. that was $1200 and then I bought $1200 worth of grocery gift cards since I know I need that in the future anyways.
Maybe a rolex is next haha.

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