First Time on MileValue

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This is a blog about earning and redeeming frequent flyer miles to travel more, better, and cheaper.

I live a transient lifestyle, flying around the world sometimes in economy, but often in Business or First Class, on a budget because I know the tricks to getting tons of miles without flying and redeeming them as efficiently as possible. Whether you want to take a dream honeymoon, a family vacation, a round-the-world trip, or even just get a free flight home for Christmas, read this blog and you’ll find out how.

If the thought of getting started seems intimidating, don’t worry. You’re not the only one that feels that way.

First Steps

  1. First, sign up to receive one free emails, no more than one a day, with all of the day’s posts–expert free-travel advice featured in the New York Times, Marketwatch, and other news sources.  You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Start by reading Travel for Pennies with Miles to get excited about the possibilities when collecting miles. Pretty cool, huh? I get most of my miles from credit card sign up bonuses. Check out this list of the top ten credit cards that I update twice a month and apply for a card or two.
  3. Check out our Free Credit Card Consultation service–fill out the form here with some basic information and we’ll recommend cards that earn travel rewards that serve your specific travel goals.
  4. If you manage to earn the miles but then get flustered trying to spend them efficiently, use our Award Booking Service. You send us your miles and points balances and where/when you want to go, and we do all the hard work for you.
  5. Next check out my beginners’ series: Free First Class Next Month.

Below is a series of informative posts for beginners.

  1. The Beginners Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles and Points (Introduction)
  2. Signing Up For Travel Loyalty Programs and Award Wallet
  3. Introduction to Travel Credit Cards
  4. Best Current Credit Card Offers
  5. Transferable Points Program Basics
  6. Earning Miles from Flying
  7. Shopping Portals
  8. Manufactured Spending
  9. You Can Earn Miles Doing Anything
  10. Don’t Let Your Miles Expire
  11. Airline Mile and Hotel Point Redemption Basics
  12. Airline Hubs, Alliances, and Award Search Engines
  13. Basics of Redeeming American Airlines Miles
  14. Basics of Redeeming United Miles
  15. Basics of Redeeming Delta Miles
  16. Basics of Redeeming US Airways Miles (this program no longer exists)
  17. Basics of Redeeming British Airways Avios
  18. Basics of Redeeming Alaska Airlines Miles
  19. Basics of Redeeming Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin America, and Frontier Miles
  20. Basics of Redeeming Singapore, Aeroplan, Flying Blue, ANA, Lufthansa, and Korean Miles
  21. How to Book Complicated Awards with Segment-by-Segment Searching and Wikipedia
  22. How to Pick the Best Seat with Seat Guru
  23. Setting Kayak Price Alerts to Always Pay the Lowest Price for Flights
  24. How and Why to Use Google Flights Price Tracker
  25. Basics of ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights and Fuel Surcharge Info
  26. Should You Chase Status?
  27. Cheapskate Lodging with Hotel Promos, Hostels, airbnb, and CouchSurfing
  28. The One Killer Message to Get Big Discounts on Airbnb
  29. Name Your Own Price on Priceline to Save Hundreds on Hotels
  30. Cancelling Cards

The Cards to Open First

If you haven’t picked up on this yet, the easiest way to get tons of miles fast for more travel is by opening numerous credit cards to earn sign up bonuses, increasing your return on spending ten-fold. But don’t get in over your head. Start with a few Chase cards first and get used to managing them. Chase bank issues numerous valuable travel cards, and will cut you off from them once you’ve opened five. None of the other big rewards-card issuing banks have a rule like this, more commonly known as the Chase 5/24 rule. Anyone wanting to maximize their bonus earnings should hit Chase cards first. In the posts below I go over different combos for different types of travelers/consumers.

Once you’re comfortable managing a few Chase cards, familiarize yourself with the Issuing Banks Rules for Approvals and New Bonuses. The banks that issue the majority of rewards cards with valuable sign up bonuses have rules–structured around which cards and when you signed up– that dictate who is eligible for their cards and sign up bonuses.

The Two Ways to Value Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses: For when you need help deciding between which card to apply for and you want to compare sign up bonuses.

Before going any further…

If you are in debt or can’t control your spending on credit cards, don’t apply for new ones. If you run a balance on your credit cards, the interest will cost you more than the rewards are worth. Only open new cards if you can pay off their balances every month, so you don’t pay interest.

Once you are oriented, here are some more informative posts to bookmark for future use.

Anatomy of an AwardWe’ve put dozens of posts in the Anatomy of an Award category. They show step-by-step the process of conceiving and booking actual awards we’ve booked for ourselves or through the Award Booking Service.

Series on how to maximize value when transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to airline partners:

How to figure out when to redeem Ultimate Rewards through Chase’s travel portal or transfer to airline miles.

Series on how to maximize value when transferring Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners:

Series on how to maximize domestic award redemptions:

Series on redeeming American Airlines Miles…

Bottom Line

In general, no matter your skill level, you should check back daily to keep growing your skills and to be part of a community of people who all want you to fly for free.