Earning Air Miles Through Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

Earning Air Miles Thorugh Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses


The fastest way to accumulate lots of air miles quickly is through the sign-up bonuses offered on airline and travel credit cards.  The sign-up bonus is offered if you are approved for the card and you spend a certain amount of money within a specified time frame. 


Earning air miles this way is easy if you have a good credit score in the 700’s and you would normally spend the amount needed to reach the sign-up bonus. 


To provide context to how valuable the points are from the sign-up bonuses – a common bonus is 50,000 points if you spend $3,000 in 3 months.  With airline credit cards such as American Airlines, United and Southwest, these 50,000 points can be enough for two economy class round trip flights within the continental U.S.  For further context, you can fly to Europe economy class return for 60,000 points or to Asia, Australia and New Zealand economy class return for 80,000 points.  So, one credit card sign up bonus can save you a lot of money on travel! 


Note that you will always have to pay the taxes and fees for your flight as the air miles and points only cover the flight cost, not the taxes and fees. These can be anywhere from a few dollars through to several hundred for an economy flight depending on where you’re flying and the airline.


There are a lot of rules to remember to make sure you are maximizing your air miles earning potential.  Here are the most important to know to start:

  • If you don’t have good credit right now, then you likely will not be approved for a new airline or travel credit card. These types of credit cards require good or excellent credit scores.
    • If you are not able to pay off your credit card in full each month, then this is not the way for you to earn air miles and points. The interest you incur would likely outweigh the value of the miles and points.
      • To work out which credit card you should apply for, work out where you want to go on your next vacation and then work out which airlines fly there for the least amount of points.
        • Most cards will have a higher sign up bonus period at some point in the year e.g. their standard bonus might be 30,000 points but it increases to 50,000 once or twice a year. Before applying for a card, check by googling whether they sometimes offer a higher sign up bonus and wait till it is offered.
          • The 3-month period you have to spend and earn the bonus, actually starts from the day you are approved for the card, not the day you receive or activate the card.
            • If there is an annual fee you have to pay on the card, it does not count towards your total spend amount to earn the bonus.
              • Most cards waive the annual fee for the first year (though some don’t). Keep your credit card open for 10-11 months, and when the annual fee is coming up decide whether you want to keep the card for the perks it provides or close it.  When you call up to close it, you may be provided with a retention offer in order to keep it open such as waiving the annual fee for another year or earning bonus points if you meet a certain spend threshold.  You can then decide if it is worth it to you to keep the card open.
                • Opening a new credit card does not hurt your credit score in the long run. At first your score will decrease a few points due to the hard credit inquiry from the bank.  However if approved, the increase in available credit to you will have a positive impact on your score.
                  • You can use your air miles earned with one airline to book a flight on one of their partner airlines e.g. you can use American Airlines miles to book flights on British Airways or United Airlines miles to book flights on Air New Zealand. You do however have to book through the airline you have the miles with, so booking a British Airways flight with American Airlines miles has to be done on the American Airlines website or through their call center.


                    There are so many rules, tips and tricks to be aware of if you want to apply for multiple credit cards to earn a lot of air miles and points.  Far too many for me to list or remember all at once!  Here are some of my favorite miles and points bloggers you can follow to learn more on this lucrative way to earn air miles and points.

                    The Points Guy https://thepointsguy.com/

                    One Mile at a Time http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/

                    Johnny Jet http://www.johnnyjet.com/

                    Here’s a current list of airline credit cards and what they offer: https://thepointsguy.com/credit-cards/limited-time-card-offers/


                    Start slowly, and open one credit card to get the hang of how it works with earning the bonus etc.…  If you know you can pay off your credit card every month and meet the minimum spend requirement to earn the bonus, then consider opening another credit card once you’ve earned the bonus on your first one.


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