Million Mile Madness: How it was done


Background: Million Mile Madness was the mad quest to earn a million points in one month. Throughout March, I did everything I could to earn as many points as possible while keeping within my ethical boundaries. I didn’t expect to have a million points credited to my account by March 31st: points often take quite a while to get credited. Instead, I tracked all of the points that I expected, and I declared victory when the expected total topped one million.

Today I’ll present a breakdown of how I earned a million points and miles in a month.  Please keep in mind that none of this should be considered advice on what you should do.  This is simply a summary of what I did:



Credit card sign-ups 51.6%

It’s no fluke that credit card sign-ups accounted for more than half of my points.  Sign-up bonuses continue to be the single best and easiest method for accumulating points quickly (for those who have good credit and always pay off their entire bill every month).  I signed up for 11 cards at once and was approved for 10 of them.  I do not recommend this as a good practice for others.  I did this giant churn to achieve my self imposed goal of a million points in one month, but under ordinary circumstances I wouldn’t sign up for more than 3 or 4 cards at a time.  For details about my credit card sign-ups, please see “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story.”  You may also be interested in “Million Mile Madness: Credit scores and pulls.”  All of the cards I signed up for can be found here: Best credit card offers.

Buy/Sell 28.2%

Almost 300,000 points were earned by buying merchandise (to get points) and then reselling the merchandise.  I used double and triple dip techniques to earn 15X or more on my purchases.  I took advantage of coupons and sales to keep costs down.  I used Fulfillment by Amazon to resell items (Amazon does most of the work for me).  It will still be a month or so before I’ve sold everything, so I don’t know how the final finances will turn out, but right now it looks like I will earn a small profit in addition to points earned.  Amazingly, all of my purchases have been tracking correctly through the online portals so I feel confident about actually getting all of those points.

For more information see:


Reload Cards 6.9%

Over the coarse of the month, I bought 19 Vanilla Reload cards and 8 PayPal cards.  In most cases I took advantage of credit card bonus offers and category bonuses.  Here are details:

  • I took advantage of a 3X targeted offer for my Citi AA Amex card
  • I used my Chase Freedom card which offered 5X at drug stores (among other places) last quarter.
  • I used my Citi ThankYou Preferred card which offers 5X at drug stores for the first 12 months.
  • My Hilton Amex continues to earn 6X at drug stores until May.
  • The Club Carlson credit cards earn 5X everywhere, so this was a great way to meet minimum spend on those cards.

I was able to load all of the Vanilla Reload cards onto two Bluebird accounts (mine and my wife’s).  With PayPal, each person can load up to $4000 per month, so I was able to load all 8 cards. 

Purchases 5.1%

For everyday purchases that I would have made anyway, I did my best to earn as many points as possible.  I used my new ThankYou Preferred card at grocery stores for 5X.  I continued to use my Citi Forward card at restaurants, bookstores, and movie theaters for 5X.  I shopped through online portals.  I waited until March to make large purchases that would have been made earlier.  I accelerated some purchases that would have been made later.  In all, I spent a lot and averaged 3.67X across the board.

Credit Card Retention 3.5%

I earned 35,000 points by making two calls to cancel credit cards. Details are here: Million Mile Madness: Easy points.

Kiva 3.4%

I made over $17,000 in no-interest loans via Kiva.  In my tracking spreadsheet I estimated that I would eventually get back 99% of that money, but in my experience I’ll get back a much higher percentage.  I’ve always loved Kiva as a way to earn miles and do good.  And, I’m fortunate enough to have enough money socked away in my savings to cover loans this big.  For more information about Kiva, see “How to maximize points and virtue through Kiva loans,” and “Minimum spend requirements? Kivalens to the rescue.”

Miscellaneous Other 1.3%

I signed up for various frequent flyer programs, I took online surveys, I “liked” companies on Facebook.  I earned a few thousand points.

Note: This week I’m on vacation, so please forgive me in advance for not answering comments.

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