The only thing better than going on vacation is going on vacation for free! One of the ways I have traveled for free in the past was to go shopping on the US Mint’s website with my rewards credit card. Here’s how I did it…
Like a lot of other frugal travelers, I earned free miles by buying $1 coins through the Mint’s “direct ship” program. I would deposit the coins into my bank account and then pay off my credit card before acruing any financing charges. The US Mint shipped the coins for free, so it didn’t cost me anything and I, of course, earned thousands of frequent flyer miles for making the purchase. It really was a genius way to rack up miles.
Well, a few months ago the US Mint finally wised up to the fact that they were subsidizing the travel of thousands of Americans and ended the direct ship program. The Mint may have caught on, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of ways to rack up free miles.
One of my favorite ways to find out about free mile offers is through a blog called One Mile at a Time.
One Mile at a Time is a community of hard-core frequent flyers that have one thing in common – they don’t like paying for travel. The blog and its members are constantly sharing new ways to earn free miles and some of their readers have racked up millions of miles in their frequent flyer accounts.
Here’s an example of how it works…
A few days ago One Mile posted an article alerting members that American Airlines had a new deal where they would give you 10 miles for every dollar you spent at Sears.com. The only requirement was that you had to click on the link that American Airlines provided in order to receive your miles.
The article then explained how one could purchase gift cards through Sears.com and then resell them on sites like Ebay and Raise.com. To make the deal even better, you were encouraged to use your reward credit card to earn extra miles.
Many of their readers took advantage and if you read through the comments you’ll see that some readers bought $10,000 or more worth of gift cards. Did I mention these people are serious about their free miles? 🙂
There’s obviously some costs associated with this particular deal, because you are probably only going to recover, at max, about 90% of the gift cards value through an Ebay auction. Although if you wanted to recoup your costs, one idea is to exchange some of the free miles for cash through a mileage exchange program like Points.com and then keep the rest for yourself.
And if you aren’t interested in the free travel, you can sell all of your miles to a mileage broker for around 1.5 cents a mile. Here’s the math on this…
$10,000 worth of Gift Card would earn you 100,000 frequent flyer miles + 20,000 miles from your rewards credit card.
Profit from selling 120,000 miles @ 1.5 cents/each ≈ $1,800
(- ) Cost of selling gift cards ≈ $1,200
Total Profit ≈ $600
$600 profit! How’s that for a weird way to make money?
Thank you to Kimberly Cole from Card Hub for contributing to this article. I highly recommend her site if you are looking for a site to compare credit cards.