2015 miles and points recap – 2.1 million points and $51,000 in cashback

Introduction

This is long overdue.  The impetus of this blog was for me to track how many miles and points I could accrue over a year, namely, 2015.  This post isn’t to brag – it’s to show what’s possible over a year.  Some of you may have done more, some of you have done less.    And remember, parts of my earnings were due to reselling and parts were due to MS and credit card signups.

 

Quick Overview

It looks like in 2015, I banked about 1.5 million points through reselling and MS activities.  I also banked 575,000 points through cc signups (including my wife’s cards) for a total point accumulation of 2,172,758.  There was also a gross cashback earning of $33,000 due to portals and MS.  I also banked $15,844 from AMEX Offers and another $2,200 of credit card signup bonuses for total gross cashback earnings of $51,000.  And for the record, I don’t do the volume I used to do since MS avenues have dried up and I’m in a reselling lull now.  I’d be happy if I could get half of this volume in 2016.

 

Airline Points

AIR 473,043 Portal Spend
Alaska 98,139 83,378 14,761
American 144,231 142,675 1,556
Delta 17,063 13,056 4,008
Southwest 36,073 36,073 0
United 155,841 155,841 0
US Air 14,449 0 14,449
Virgin America 7,246 7,246 0

As you can see, portals accounted for over 90% of my airline point earnings this year.  This is all due to reselling.  My reselling profits isn’t accounted for in this post, which I can assure you came out a net positive (I’ll have a post on that later.)  I consider these points the sprinkles on top of a sundae.  The only points I used out of those 473K were Alaska miles when I went to South Africa and some Delta and AA for my trip to Australia.  I didn’t use any Southwest or United miles this year at all, so all those miles were speculative earnings.

Now, I know some of you will say, “See, Vinh earned nearly 500K miles just by reselling!  Let me get into reselling too so I can try to earn that much too.”  Nothing is wrong with that thinking, just know that it’s a different beast.

 

Hotel Points

HOTEL 142,468 Portal Spend
Club Carlson 9,161 9,161
Hilton 0
Hyatt 0
Starwoods 133,306 133,306

On the hotel side, the 133K SPG was purely 1X non-bonus spend.  Most of it was due to the pajama trick.  Now that my SPG balance is around 400K, I’ve stopped accumulating SPG and I switched to a 3% cashback card instead of earning more SPG.  Yes, I know transferring SPG to airlines can get me more than 3c of value, but as you can see, all my portal shopping already has given me a healthy supply of airline miles, so I try to save my SPG for high valued SPG stays.

Also take note I did no Hilton MS’ing in 2015.  I had a stash of around 400K HH points that I’ve blown through, which I’m going to accumulate again this year for the Seychelles.  I also don’t MS on the Hyatt card since I get those from UR below.

 

Bank Points

BANK 1,032,248 Portal Spend
AMEX MR 46,358 46,358
Barclay Arrival 582,347 582,347
Chase UR 311,510 32,278 279,232
Citi TYP 91,105 91,105
Plenti 928 928 0

Doesn’t take a brain scientist to know how I accumulated all those UR points.  This is between my wife’s card and my card, so I didn’t max out the full bandwidth (for fear of shutdown.)

And it’s been no secret that all those A+ points came from the Buxx cards (may they rest in peace.)  But I did pay a price in that Barclays shut down my entire household.  So don’t think you can get away with running $290K a year of MS spend on a card w/o any damage.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.  Those A+ points alone is worth $5800 (pre-travel credit.)  Sure I’ll miss out on Barclays cc signup bonuses in the future, but I doubt it would have amounted to that much.  Now remember, that’s the gross amount – I paid $2.50 per 1K points, so I paid $1,450 total (give or take), so my true net is around $4,350.

 

Cashback

CASHBACK $33,067 Portal Spend
Befrugal $886 $886
Cap1 Spark $340 $340
Cashback Card $10,408 $10,408
Citi Double Cash $2,833 $2,833
Discover $6,571 $3,579 $2,991
Ebates $4,364 $1,797 $2,567
FIA AMEX $2,473 $2,473
PPBDC $0
Savingstar $2 $2
Shop at Home $884 $884
Simply Best Coupons $172 $172
Topcashback $3,901 $3,901
Upromise $232 $232

Whoa, lots of TCB there.  I think those were when AGC’s were still around.  Same with the other portals like Befrugal and Ebates.  I think Shop at Home, SBC, and Upromise were due to reselling.  The cashback card you should know already just by process of elimination.  DC came from loads.  Discover was due to Apple Pay.  Like I said, these are gross numbers, so factor in MS fees and costs.

Omitted is the Amex Offers section since there’s no need to go into detail there, but if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know how it can be done.

 

Credit card signups

Credit Card Signups   Points Cash
Alaska Visa x 4 100,000 $400
AMEX SimplyCash $250
FIA Fidelity $50
Chase United Business 55,000
Delta Skymiiles 60,000
Capital One Spark $500
Barclay Arrival 40,000
Citi ATT More $650
Amex Platinum 100,000
Chase British Airways 100,000
Virgin America 15,000
Alaska Visa (wife) 25,000 $100
Amex SimplyCash (wife) $250
Chase Hyatt (wife) 2 free nights
AMEX SPG (wife) 30,000

Definitely hit signups hard on my side, but left a lot of room on table for wife.  We were refinancing our house, so didn’t want too many hits on her CL.  Nothing much to say here.

 

Conclusion

So yes, 2015 was a very good year for me.  2014 was actually better than that, but I didn’t keep track; I just remember amassing over 1M UR within 2 months due to reselling on Kohls and Sears.  So yes, the glory days are behind us.  Every new door that opens is always a short lived door and the amount of gold inside is smaller than before.  I’ll write up my 2016 plan in another post.

  • Ken

    Wish I’d started following earlier, I’m curious about all those Amex Offers.

  • Mark Ostermann

    This is very interesting…great work! Will there be another post with costs involved like annual fees, gift card fees etc?

    • Miles per Day

      No Mark, that would be way too time consuming.

      • Mark Ostermann

        Kind of figured that….thanks for the response.