How to Earn 105,000 Miles in the Next Few Weeks

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Yesterday I talked about why newbies should dip their toes in the credit card pool–the rewards are enough to travel for pennies in first class. In this post, I’ll give you an overly detailed explanation of how I would start today if I were new.

This post is as bare bones as I can make it and might leave you with a lot of questions. I hope it spurs a full interest in collecting and redeeming miles. I hope you’ll become a regular reader of MileValue. But if you just want to spend ten minutes now on the action items in this post and ten minutes a month maintaining your miles balance, that’s an option too.

The best current credit card offer is from Citi. It has two identical American Airlines cards, the only difference being that one has its payments processed by Visa and one by American Express. That’s mostly an irrelevant detail, but it means you can get both. Each has a 50,000 mile bonus after spending $2,500 on the card in the first four months, so that’s 100,000 bonus miles total after $5,000 total in spending. I’ll explain how to easily meet that spending requirement after explaining how to get the cards in three simple steps.

  1. Open two browsers, with one application in each browser.
  2. Complete the applications in unison.
  3. Call Citi.

1. Open two browsers, with one application in each browser.

Open up two web browsers. On my MacBook, Safari was preinstalled, and I downloaded Firefox, so I open those two. If you have a PC, open Internet Explorer and another one. (Download Firefox if you only have your preinstalled browser on the computer.)

Direct each browser to this post. In one, click the Visa link below. In the other, click the American Express link.

Citi American Airlines Visa

Citi American Airlines American Express

(Note: I have removed the links because the ones in the post are dead, and the new links are ever-changing. Find the current highest links here.)

2. Complete the applications in unison.

Fill out the first application and click Verify Application. Fill out the second application and click Verify Application.

(If you don’t already have an American Airlines account and number, sign up for one in 60 seconds for free here.)

Now you are on the verification screen for each. If the information is all correct, click Submit Application on one then Submit Application on the other.

I recommend this method of applying for both at once because I (and many others) have found that if you submit the two applications the same day, you can get both cards. But if you submit one today and one tomorrow, the second application will be denied.

I recommend using two browsers because sometimes the cookies in one browser prevent submission of both applications.

Submitting two or more applications on the same day to Citi results in only one credit inquiry. That’s good because credit inquiries temporarily lower your credit score 2-5 points as I mentioned yesterday.

After submitting the application, you will be told whether you were approved instantly. It’s not big deal one way or the other. If you are approved for both, skip Step 3–you’re done.

If you get any other message about the application being received, pending, or being denied, note the reference number and call the telephone number listed on the page. If no telephone number is listed, call 800-695-5171. If no reference number is listed, the agent will bring up your application another way.

3. Call Citi.

Each call will only be about one card. Call Citi at 800-695-5171 and say: “I just submitted an application for the American Airlines Visa [or American Express, whichever you are calling about.] I am calling to see if you need more information to process the application.”

The agent will generally ask you questions that were already on the application. Answer them politely.

The only tough question you might get is why you want two cards at once. Don’t mention the sign up bonus. Instead mention another benefit of two cards–maybe the ability to track two categories of spending to help with your budgeting.

After a few minutes, most people are approved over the phone. If you are not, you don’t have to take no for an answer. Hang up and call a new agent. You may want to highlight any reasons why you are a good credit risk on reconsideration calls like your relationship with Citi or your history of on-time payments.

Once you are approved, ask the agent to confirm the sign up bonus details. The cards should offer 50,000 bonus miles after $2,500 in spending in four months.

Once you have finished one conversation, hang up and call back about the second card if necessary.

If all goes according to plan, you’ll be approved for both cards. They will be mailed to you, and you’ll get them within a week or so. Now, you just have to spend $5,000 total in four months. Here’s how:

1. Start with the American Express card. Use it for all purchases until you hit $2,500. You can pay almost everything with a credit card. You should try to avoid using cash for purchases. You can also prepay your wireless bill and other bills. If you have a two-year contract, and you can afford to prepay, this is an easy way to meet a spending requirement.

If the American Express isn’t accepted somewhere–Visas are more commonly accepted–use the Visa.

2. Once you meet the $2,500 spending requirement on the American Express, which you can track online, start using the Visa until you hit its $2,500 threshold.

3. If you don’t spend $5,000 in four months, there is an easy way to meet the requirement.

Amazon Payments is a service of amazon.com very similar to PayPal. The huge benefit is that you can send $1,000 per calendar month with a credit card without the sender or receiver paying a fee. If you made a $1,000 payment or loan each calendar month to someone you trusted to repay the loan, you would have $4,000 of the $5,000 requirements met easily.

Just do not send the $1,000 to someone and have them send it back. Amazon will shut your account down. The person should use the balance in their Amazon Payments account or withdraw the money to a bank account.

Once you meet a spending requirement, the miles will post to your American Airlines account on the next credit card statement.

Voila.

By doing this, you’ll have 105,000 American Airlines miles–the 100k bonuses plus 5k in spending at 1 miles per dollar.

Is there an annual fee for these cards?

Yes, but it is waived for the first 12 months of holding the card. To avoid ever paying an annual fee, cancel the card before its anniversary. Do not cancel the cards immediately after the bonuses post though. Wait until you’ve held them at least nine months. Set an alert on your phone’s calendar now to remind you to cancel the cards.

Do the miles expire?

American Airlines miles expire if there is no activity in your account for 18 months. Any miles earned or debited restarts that clock, so as long as you are using the cards, you have 18 more months to use the miles.

If you cancel the card, do you lose the miles?

No, Citi puts miles into your American Airlines account, which are yours to keep even if you cancel the cards.

Other questions? Comment or email me.

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Grab dinner with me in Los Angeles, Tampa, or Baltimore.





Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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67 COMMENTS

  1. I gotten a lot of warnings about using Amazon Payments to fulfill minimum spend on Citi cards. Citi will charge interest and fees, treating the transaction as a cash advance. I’m a big fan of the two browser trick, but using AP here doesn’t sound like the best idea.

    • From whom have these warnings come? I’ve never had a problem. Neither have any of my friends to whom I have suggested this. Using Amazon Payments is not a cash advance, and is not treated as such by Citi.

        • I haven’t seen that. That has not been my recent experience with Am Payments. Occasionally on FlyerTalk people post false things to try to scare people into not getting on deals. They want the deals for themselves.

          • It may be different for different individuals but I used my Citi Aadvantage to send a payment with amazon payment and was charged a cash advance even though I didn’t use the cash advance option.

  2. Agree with MileValue. I’ve use AP multiple times with Citi cards to send money. As long as you ick goods/services, you will not be charged cash advance fees/interest.

  3. I applied for the AAdvantage Visa about 2 years ago when it was still a 75k mile bonus. Didn’t get the AMEX version of the card at that point though. Would I be eligible to apply for that card now or would having the Visa version invalidate the bonus?

    • I have been reading on FlyerTalk that people are reporting success churning these cards with 18 months between applications. That means you should be able to apply for both now and get both bonuses. I would close the old Visa in anticipation of the application, but it is probably not strictly necessary.

      • Is the 18 months time between APPLICATIONS, or is it 18 months from closure of the old VISA AA? If its former, at 17 months can you close the VISA AA, and then reapply at 18 months?

  4. Another suggestion when calling to Citi to justify two cards at once – “The reason I want both AMEX and Visa is because AMEX isn’t accepted everywhere and I want to be sure I can put all of my spending on a Citi card and earn rewards.”

    Any information on how churnable the Visa is? I’ve had it recently (closed in the last 6 months) and am wondering if I applied again would I get the sign-up bonus?

  5. Are the 50k bonus Citi cards only available when using your link? Just curious because I do not see that offer when going to citi.com. I get 30k for the Visa and 25 for the AmEx

    • Those links are “zombie links.” They are long since expired, but people find that Citi honors them. They were honored last night for my friend. It is not uncommon that the best offer available is not the one listed on the bank’s website.

      • Is it wise to have your spouse apply for one and you the other for the 50,000 points on each card instead of one person applying for both? Or is is better for one person to accumulate the 100,000 points. I know there must be something to it and you will have the answer!!

        Thank you

        • It’s best for you both to apply for both. But it is always better to have one acct with 100k than two with 50k.

  6. Stephanie, yes, there have been reports on FT of doing this successfully with other Citi cards, like 2 Hilton cards.

    Interestingly, when I did the apps a few months ago, I had recently moved – I got approved for the Visa after a phone call verification, but the Amex required me to mail a utility bill. I was sure I’d get denied, but I mailed it in anyway. Got the card about 10 days later and did get the 100k points after spend.

  7. Please help, i am booking bos to nrt on japan airways with AA miles,
    But i am unable to add free one way without the award price going up, i tried miami, lax and ord. Also for the one way to work, do i have to take the domestic leg first? For example mia-bos-nrt or do i book this way and able to change the date of the first leg mia to bos after bos- nrt?

  8. i am booking bos to nrt on japan airways with AA miles,
    But i am unable to add free one way without the award price going up, i tried miami, lax and ord. Also for the one way to work, do i have to take the domestic leg first? For example mia-bos-nrt or do i book this way and able to change the date of the first leg mia to bos after bos- nrt?

    • You have to fly MIA-BOS//BOS-NRT or NRT-BOS//BOS-MIA in that order. You cannot fly BOS-NRT//MIA-BOS.

      I would expect MIA-BOS//NRT-BOS to work fine if both flights are direct.

    • Click the links in this post. People report (including my friend who applied in my presence two days ago) getting 50k for these links despite the offer not being listed on the application page. The 30k offers are what Citi is pushing for obvious reasons.

  9. I used the 2BM to apply for both a Citi Visa and Mastercard last week. There was no instant approval so I called and was told my Visa was approved (didn’t ask about the MC). When the cards arrived yesterday, they sent two Visa cards. Do you think I’ll get both signup bonuses? Should I call to get the second card changed to a MC or just wait until the next churn in 65 days?

    • I have never encountered this. When calling to activate the first one, ask the rep to confirm the sign up bonus details. Hang up, and do the same for the second, and you’ll know very quickly whether you are getting both bonuses. Please report back what you find out.

  10. To Mark:
    I have seen actual reports and do know of my own client I got into this crack habit that…you should get BOTH signing bonuses! Do the minimum spend & see what happens. Of course maybe Citi has fixed this…as always, ymmv

    • I just called to activate both my Citi Visa cards from my first churn. The 50,000 signup miles are confirmed for both cards after the initial spend! WooHoo! Does this mean that 250K miles are possible if I add the Mastercard, AMEX and business Visa in my next churns – or will Citi limit the signup bonuses? If so, that would be sweet since I’ve got a family of 5. Thank you!

      • You’ll have to wait 18 months to get the other personal cards I believe. The other business card is open to you.

  11. Quick question: I have got both applications approved from the websites. How may I confirm that the terms of promotion (50K after 2.5K spend in 4 months) are attached to both of my cards? Do I wait till I receive the physical cards, and then call to activate/confirm terms?

  12. I applied for both of these about 6 months ago. Did not meet the spending for one in the first month, but I did for the other. At no point did I ask for anything regarding the miles. But, once you hit 2,500 they will mail you 2 admirals club passes, then you should receive the bonus in your account 2 days after your statement date. So for the second card I am expecting to hit 2,500 soon, and then the passes and bonus miles soon thereafter. This is definitely one of the best ways to get miles (barclays US is instant after any spend).

  13. […] How to earn 100,000+ miles in the next few weeks via MileValue. An in-depth look at the “two browser trick” where you submit multiple credit card applications at the same time to minimize credit score hits and maximize points and frequent flyer mile earning opportunities. Just make sure you can manage the combined minimum spend! […]

  14. Really enjoyed the LA dinner last night. Is it possible to sign up for these two cards and the Citi AA buisness card at the same time?

  15. I’ve had both before, and done this before (last one was 24 months ago). So I did the two browser method, approved instantly on AmEx. Pending decision on Visa. I called the number, and was told I was denied by American Airlines on the Visa. The rep told me AA is making changes, and they are now limiting the number of applications at the same time to limit the number of bonus miles that people can get. YMMV.

    • Thanks for the data point. I agree that YMMV. My friend had success just a few days ago. I would recommend calling up one or two more time. If you can’t get the Visa, 50k miles is a nice consolation.

  16. Applied for the visa and amex personal. Submitted visa first & was approved, submitted amex after that, status said “application received”.
    CSR said they are not approving multiple applications submitted in a short period of time. Sucks!! Will call again and see what happens.

  17. Monday night – tried the two browser trick. Got the AMEX, but got “application received” on the VISA. Called up and they said denied because I applied for two. Sounds like the deal is off. Bummer.

  18. If the two browser trick is dead, can you apply for 1 personal (visa or amex) and 1 business? or will that also be rejected?

  19. Oh well…Did not work…I received the AMEX right away, but the Visa (in another browser) was listed as Application Received. I called and was told that it was denied because they could not offer the AAdvantage product in two cards to the same person. I told them I really needed the Visa to make the purchases but that was it…Well, I get the 50k plus miles, let me know how I can max that out?

  20. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I applied back in January, in the exact same format you described (I even had to make the call to citi when I one request was “pending”) and got both cards. However, I was a little nervous because I never saw the “50,000” bonus mentioned anywhere but, I went on faith and charged 2500 on each card for four months and, as of May 25, I have 105,000 miles! You rock.

  21. I applied for the Citi AAdv Plat World MC and Chase United Mileage Plus Expl VISA on June 12 and was approved for both. 6 weeks later I received 2 offers in the mail for Citi AAdv Gold VISAs – one for 40,000 bonus points and the other for 50,000! Can I apply for one of them so soon (60 days)? Any idea why I got those offers? Thanks

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