Almost-Free Airfare

Would you like to have more money for travel? 

I knew we wanted to travel to Peru this summer, so I gave myself a raise. 

How did I do this?

I applied for both American Airlines and United Airlines branded credit cards.  After meeting the minimum spending requirements, usually $3000-$4000 in the first 3 months, my accounts were credited with large sign-up bonuses of 150,000 miles plus one mile (or more) for each dollar charged.

I use the credit cards for ordinary spending on groceries, gas, dining out, charitable giving, and recurring monthly bills, such as the cell phone, electric and insurance bills and pay the credit card statement balance in full each month. Please understand, I do not promote debt.

Use the card wisely and pay off the balance each month, otherwise it’s not free!


A few months ago I redeemed 146,000 miles for $2400 in flights and paid less than $150 in taxes for  2 of us to travel to Peru. This is how I redeemed the miles:

  • PDX – LIM on United Airlines required 20,000 miles and $21.85 each.
  • LIM – PDX on American required 35,000 miles and $52.80 each.
  • Four in-country flights in Peru on LAN:  LIM – AQP, CUS – LIM, LIM – CJA, and TRU – LIM required 18000 miles.

If you want to learn how to do this, there are several travel hackers that teach this on the internet. I follow The Points Guy and Travel Miles 101 to learn the finer points of earning (and redeeming) points/miles to get the best value – and it’s not earning miles from flights taken or  charging purchases!

I’m not sure where Meet You in the Morning will be traveling after this Peru trip, but I continue to build up the miles in the mileage accounts so we’ll be ready for the next opportunity. Recently I opened a Chase Sapphire credit card because of the flexibility it gives. Miles are deposited into my Ultimate Rewards account which can then be transferred to the airline mileage account of my choice to redeem for tickets.


Booking a cruise through an airline’s portals gives a huge mileage bonus.


You want free money for travel? Give yourself a raise!

We’re heading out to the airport in a few hours.  I’ll Meet You in the Morning next time from Lima, Peru!

3 responses to “Almost-Free Airfare

  1. I just received my 50,000 points from Sapphire Preferred (plus an extra 5,000 for having my spouse’s card used 1x, plus the points I earned using the card to pay my normal monthly household bills.) Will def have to look into the cards you mentioned. I’m presuming mileage points are only good on their airlines? I believe Chase Sapphire Preferred is universal. Our St Louis trips are covered!


  2. Pingback: Counting Down to Christmas | Meet You In The Morning·

  3. Pingback: Travel Hacking Math | Meet You In The Morning·

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