Earn Enough Miles for an Around the World Trip Ticket

Two toes over the line .... Elite Status! My sister once told me that I was extremely well rounded, and no one could take that away from me.  With that, I like to use Second Thoughts to display this wide range of expertise, from the ridiculous to real, from tacos to design, from technical to personal.

In this article, I’m going to outline briefly how I managed to purchase my around the world trip ticket 100% on miles (+ a fee for airport taxes) with Continental Airlines.  It took just over a year and a half, at least two long flights for vacation and multiple cross country flights, but I pulled it off.   Here’s how:

  1. Pick an airline alliance and always fly with that alliance. I chose Continental Airlines in the Winter of 2007.  At that time Continental was part of the Sky Team Alliance, but as of October 2009 it is part of the Star Alliance.  It included Delta, Northwest, Air France, Korean Air, and Copa, to name a few. (As a backup to #1, make sure you have an account with each alliance. Continental is now with the Star Alliance.  I opened up a Delta SkyMiles account just in case I continued to fly with Sky Team partners. )
  2. With #1, remember to give the airline your account # for every flight. That’s how you collect the miles in the first place!  You only need one account number per alliance.  With the SkyTeam, if I fly Air France, I give them my Delta SkyMiles account, with Star Alliance, if I fly US Airways, I give them my Continental One Pass number.
  3. If you forget to give your account # for the flight, keep the boarding pass to redeem the points/miles later. As long as you have your boarding pass, the process to redeem your points/miles is quite simple.  Just send in your boarding pass (make a copy for your records) to your airline (in my case Continental) with a note explaining the situation and including your account information.
  4. Apply for  a credit card with the primary airline with whom you are collecting miles. Again, my primary airline was (and still is) Continental Airlines.  I took out my first credit card with them and Chase in December 2007.  You earn bonus miles for opening a credit card, and in some cases, for making your first purchase.  Most airline cards have a yearly fee (ex: $85) and a fairly high APR (ex: 13.89%), so only charge each month what you can pay off by your payment due date.  The point here is to charge as much of your normal expenses as possible, paying off the balance in full each month to avoid fees.  This way you maximize the amount of miles you earn each month.
  5. Use your airline credit card to purchase flights for double miles. Very simple rule.
  6. Take advantage of opportunities to earn miles from partner programs. My previous employer and client had me stay at Sheraton’s whenever I was on -site and conveniently, Continental had a partnership with Starwood Resorts, whereby my Starwood Points converted to Continental Miles.  I lost out on points with the hotel system, but gained big in airline miles, which was what I wanted.

Most people ask how many miles the flight cost – 140,000 – and how much the flight would have cost in dollars – roughly $3500.  The general rule of thumb is to hack off the last two zeros of miles quote to get an idea of how much the ticket would cost in dollars.  There’s a $1 for every 100 miles.  Not a great ratio, but with that conversion, I was able to travel around the world for $1400 while my traveling partner traveled for ~$3500.

Note:  This is not a sponsored article.

Interested in seeing more of my trip?  Visit www.myfirstretirement.com

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