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Hey! You’re reading an outdated Free First Class Next Month series. Check out the latest version published in April of 2015 here.

This is the second post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously An Updated Guide to Free Travel with Miles and Points.

In just a few days, you’ll be earning hundreds of thousands of frequent flier miles, and you need a place to put them. Below are the bare minimum programs you need to be a member of as a US-based flyer, and as you get more involved with the miles game, you’ll probably sign up for more.

By signing up for these programs, you’ll be able to take advantage of every major miles promotion, and you’ll be able to fly domestically and internationally for pennies.

Each one should just take a moment to sign up for, and don’t skip any even if you’ve never flown the airline. Trust me that they all have a lot of value. For instance, you might not expect that British Airways is the best program for US domestic flights. If you already have an account, then try to sign into it, so you can figure out your account number and password. Write down your user name or number and passwords all in one place, we’ll need them again very soon.


AirTran (recently bought by Southwest, so joining unlocks a trick with Southwest points)

American Airlines

British Airways

Delta Airlines**

Hawaiian Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines (if you had a Continental Onepass account, United automatically rolled that into a Mileage Plus account)

US Airways


Club Carlson


Priority Club


If you fly any other carriers like Virgin America or JetBlue, you should also sign up for their programs, but if you don’t fly them, you can stick to the eight listed airlines. If you’re an avid couchsurfer, you can skip signing up for the hotels.

**After signing up for these programs, register your new Delta account here. It’s a promo for new Delta accounts that is free to sign up for. Then in the next 12 months, you can earn 5,000 miles for your first paid Delta roundtrip, and 2,500 miles for each roundtrip thereafter up to 15,000 miles total. You can also get a 5,000 mile rebate the first time you redeem 10,000+ miles. These are free miles, and it doesn’t cost you anything if you don’t meet the promo criteria, so do yourself a favor and type your new SkyMiles number into the page. Hat Tip Rene.

Continue to Sign Up for Award Wallet.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

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