The best way to get to a romantic destination is by flying for free. We recently interviewed Andy Shuman, author of The Lazy Traveler's Handbook - How to Use Frequent Flyer Miles to Travel for Free to see how earns about a 1,000,000 frequent flyer miles a year just using his credit cards:
TANGO; How many miles do you earn in a typical year?
ANDY: Things changed in 2011. Never before there were the kinds of bonuses that are available today. How long it’s going to last—who knows! I made well over a million miles last year, over 1.7 million with wife. This year, the offers are still great but not as great as they were back then. Besides, I'm currently holding some of the best cards, so can't double on the bonus yet. Still I should be able to collect close to about 700k. There is still time until Cristmas.
TANGO: What's the single best flight or hotel experience you've had, and how many miles did you use for that experience?
ANDY: Flight: LAN Premium Business NYC-LIM with full flat beds and gourmet dining. It cost me 70,000 AAdvantage miles if I'[m not mistaken. Hotels are tougher. I've had fantastic stays at W in New Orleans on Mardi Gras, Fairmont Chateau Frontenac during the Quebec Carnival, Westin Diplomat in Fort Lauderdale among others. I think Westin Diplomat wins. It’s probably the nicest resort in the Continental US. The cost was 48,000 SPG points for 5 nights (12,000 nigths per night, but the 5th night is free).
TANGO: If our readers could only sign up for one or two cards, which would you recommend?
ANDY: Both should be Citi AAdvantage Visa and American Express cards that can be signed up for simultaneously, and they will net you 100,000 American Airlines miles. That’s 4 domestic round trips or a business class to Europe. (EDITORS NOTE, Since this interview the mileage bonus for the AA card has changed, check out Andy's blog for more details).
TANGO; If I'm willing to put a little time into applying for the right cards (my wife and I normally charge about $2,500 a month on cards) how many miles could I earn over the next year?
ANDY: Provided you don’t have more than one or two cards from the same issuer, I’d say 500,000 easy. You can, of course, get much more if you are persistent and willing to learn a few tricks.
TANGO: What do readers need to remember to protect their credit score and/or avoid paying fees?
ANDY: I have the whole chapter in my book dedicated to this exact matter. Basically, one has to remember it’s not for everyone. You should not play this game if you don’t pay your credit card balances in full on time, and/or if you expect to apply for a serious loan like mortgage within the next 18 months. You also have to monitor what’s going on with your credit report regularly. Fortunately, it’s easy and cheap (or even free). It does require some work, but the rewards are immense.
Editors Note: Andy's not only earned a lot of frequent flyer miles, he's also worked in finance and knows the smart way to use credit . Feel free email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or to ask him any questions on his Facebook page. If you'd like more information on how to earn and use frequent flyer miles, check out his book on Amazon or his Facebook page: