How to Master Credit Card Miles for FREE Flights

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Freedom
Using these 2 cards gets you the absolute best value for your points and miles.

This technique I’ve found may be the solution to you being able to afford to take that trip to far off exotic land that you’ve always wanted to. There are three steps to do so:

(1) Earn the most points for each dollar you spend, (2) turn these points into miles and (3) use your miles with the airline rewards program that sells your route for the least amount of points/miles.

In order to be effective, you must have all three parts of the equation. The system uses two different credit cards to optimizes all three parts of the equation. By following this system, you can have enough miles by Christmas for a FREE Round-Trip Ticket to Europe. 

This credit card miles system has been the saving grace of my trip’s funding and has helped me purchase flights around the world. Just recently I purchased my first flight Chico, California to St. Petersburg, Russia… it cost me $39. The flight normally would cost more than $3,000.  

$3,000 flight or $300 cash back? I think I’ll take the flight! 

$3,000 flight or $300 cash back? I think I’ll take the flight! 


The basis behind the credit card Miles system is that you get Miles for the money you spend which in return you can use to purchase airline tickets. If you just use an airline-bound credit card (such as UnitedMilage Plus Explorer or Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa) you may get one free flight a year with the miles you accumulate. The key in all of this is accumulating your Miles on the right cards and allocating your Miles to the best Mileage Rewards Program for the specific flight you want to take. Many cards offer you “cash-back” and it sounds like a good deal. BUT, if you turn this “cash-back” into its equivalent in “points" and transfer these points 1-to-1 into miles on an airline milage reward system, you can easily DOUBLE or TRIPLE the “cash-back” value which you would have received if you just took the cash. The $3,000 flight above is the perfect example of a maximizing your points reward. Typically, a flight from the USA to Europe one-way would cost about $900. This flight can be purchased with 30,000 miles/points, or, you can get $300 cash back for these 30,000 miles/points. If you are going to fly anyway, it’s a no brainer which to pick!


So Which Cards Do I Need?

The most crucial card in this whole system is the Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here). The magic with this card comes from the ability to transfer points accumulated 1-to-1 to United MilagePlus, British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and several hotel reward programs. Being that these are all partnered with different airline alliances, this means you can book flights with your miles on ANY AIRLINE in Star Alliance, One World or Sky Team, allowing you access to 63 airlines.  On top of that, Chase Sapphire Preferred offers your 2 points for every dollar spend on dinning and travel. They are very generous with their qualifications for travel purchases as well. This includes gas, hotels, any form of transportation, etc. The first year is free and each following year costs $95 for this card. Currently, there is a 40,000 mile sign-up bonus with and additional 5,000 mile bonus for signing up an 2nd authorized user. You can put anyone’s name on the 2nd card, even your pet’s. Just make one purchase with the 2nd card and you get an additional 5,000 miles. 

The 2nd card to sign up for is Case Freedom (click here). This card offers 5% cash back on different purchases each quarter and a cash-back/10,000 point sign-up bonus. The biggest advantages of the Chase Freedom card are that you receive 5 points for every dollar spent in that financial quarter's category AND you can transfer this points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards program and then down onto the various airlines for flight booking. No other card out there gives you 5 miles to the dollar you spend. This is BIG! Last quarter was gas, so in these 3-months, I made all your gas purchases with this card. From now until the end of the year is along with several department stores. I’m purchasing all of my xmas gifts on Amazon and earning 5 points to the dollar. This is 5 points to the dollar compared to Chase Sapphire Preferred’s 2 points to the dollar. This card has No annual free. However, DON’T redeem your cash-back sign-up bonus. Instead, use the unique feature of transferring your cash-back sign-up bonus and cash-back rewards into points and transferring them over into your Chase Sapphire Preferred card. From here, you can transfer 1 point to 1 mile on all of the above listed airline reward programs. Since both cards are from Chase and they use the same rewards program, you can instantly be done with a few clicks in the Ultimate Rewards dashboard through your online Chase account. This way, your cash-back value can be turned into flight value allowing you to earn as much as 3-times the cash back value you would have received. This means you are actually getting 10%-15% “cash back” in the form of flights on all of you Amazon and xmas purchases! No one has heard of the 15% cash-back card until now… 


Crucial Mistakes Made When Applying for Credit Cards

Do NOT say you are a student and make $24k a year. If you are a student making minimum wage, It’s suggested you input an annual salary between $55k - $65k and do not list your profession as a student. You are never asked to confirm your salary, even when speaking to the credit card companies on the phone. 


What If My Credit Card Application Is Rejected?

Don’t worry! This happened to me too, yet I was still able get approved. Here is how:

When applying for my 3rd card from Case this summer, I received notice that I had not been approved. With a solid credit score I was confused so I called them at: 888-245-0625. They informed me that while I could not be issued more credit, but that I could transfer credit over from other cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card requires a minimum credit line of $5k. After telling them which cards to reduce the credit limit from to create the $5k credit line for the Sapphire Preferred card, I was accepted for the card and received it in the mail the next week. Several people have done this and there is nearly a 90% success rate. You can find numerous forums about this online. 


IF THIS HELPED YOU, PLEASE PAY IT FORWARD: Sign-up for Chase Sapphire Preferred  and/or Chase Freedom through any of the links in this post and you get the same 40,000 and 10,000 milage sign-up bonuses which you would get if you sign up directly through Chase’s website, but a bonus 5,000 referral reward will be given to me by Chase through the end of the month. I hope this information was helpful for you and you can start to get on your way to traveling the world as cheap as possible! Many thanks to Heather and Ilya for teaching me the ropes on this! 


Why the Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred set-up is more lucrative than Capital One’s unlimited 2% cash back card:

With Capital One, you get 2% cash back on all purchases you make. A round-trip flight from Sacramento to Munich in November will cost you $1,400 if you purchase it regularly. In order to achieve this, you need to accumulate 140,000 points (1$=2pts) on your Capital One card. This would require you to spend $70,000 on your Capital One Card. 

INSTEAD, if you want to purchase this flight through United MilagePlus you only need 60,000 points! That’s 80,000 points LESS!  Furthermore, in each quarter you are earning up to 5 points per dollar spend on your Chase Freedom card so point accumulation occurs much faster! And even better yet, if you sign up for Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred and meet their minimum spend in the first 3 months, you will already be rewarded with and have accumulated 60,000 miles. BINGO! Your flight is already paid for. Even better yet, you have set your-self up to accumulate miles FASTER than any other card available and will be earning enough miles for multiple free flights a year. Nothing compares to these two card system described in this post.

Furthermore, remember part 3 of the equation, "using the least amount of points/miles for the flight you are looking forand the ability to purchase flights at two to three times the cash-back value (i.e. a $900 USA to Europe one-way flight costs only 30,000 points). This means that even when you are earning only 1 point on the Chase Sapphire Preffered card for a purchase, it’s equivalent to 2%-3% cash back in flights because you and transfer the points to numerous the Airline Milage Rewards program. Capital One simply doesn’t have that option and leaves stuck at earning only 2% “cash back”. 

What about my Southwest Credit Card or MilagePlus Credit Card, aren’t they just as good?
No. Why? Because all of your point accumulation is bound to one milage reward program. This can cause you to end up paying more miles/points for a flight then you would if you were using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Here is why: Milage Programs have different systems for assigning millage values which means same routes will cost different milage amounts. For example, United MilagePlus assigns values by regions, while British Airways assigns values by distance. This means that a flight from California to Munich will cost 30,000 miles through United MilagePlus but 50,000 miles through British Airways. On the other hand, a flight from Berlin to Frankfurt costs 15,000 miles on UnitedPlus but only 4,500 miles when booked through British Airways’ reward program.

The key to this system is getting the most points/miles for your existing purchases and spending the least amount of points/miles for the flight you want to take. The most effective way for this to be done is through the Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards


How to get an Annual 100k mile boost. Each airline rewards program has their own airline bound cards. We have explained above why it’s not effective to use one of these cards for all of your daily purchases because they are bound to only one program, however, they can be used to boost your milage balance periodically. Each of these cards have a milage sign-up for getting their card. The amount of miles one gets for signing up changes periodically and about once a year will jump up to around the 50,000 mile mark. Rule of thumb is to never sign-up for one of these cards unless it’s 40,000 points or higher. If it’s not currently at this value, wait, it will be in due time. After signing up and meeting the minimum spend, you can cancel the card to avoid paying the continued annual fee and having too many accounts open. However, you only want to sign up for about 2-3 cards a year. Doing more will begin to have an effect on your credit score. Numerous forums online which track milage sign-up bonuses recommend only 2-3 cards a year as well. Some of the cards which you can keep an eye out in the coming year for 40,000 to 50,000 sign-up bonuses include United MilagePlus Explorer card, British Airways Executive Club card, and AAdvantage World card. 


I hope this was helpful for you all!  I started this process at the end of June and I already have earned for 120,000 points without spending more than I already am. If you want to start paying for your flights with points like I am, please use the links here to sign up. You will get the same sign-up bonuses as you would if you sign up directly from Chase, plus I will get a 5,000 point referral reward. Thank you for helping me get around the world and enjoy the beginning of FREE FLIGHTS! 

Chase Sapphire Preferred (Click Here)

If you have any questions, post them in the comment section so others can see the answer too. I will do all I can to answer them for you, just as Heather and Ilya did for me when I was learning how to do this.