For some of us, collecting frequent flyer miles is a bit of an obsession. We all have our personal limits on what we will spend to acquire a frequent flyer mile, Marty has taken it a level higher showing what one will do to acquire the elusive mile.
Over the last 45 days, Marty has been renting cars with the goal of attaining 100,000 frequent flyer miles at a cost of about 1 cent each. He has rented from several companies that were offering bonuses up through January 31, 2008 and rented a total of 29 cars. Every rental company is tied in with an airline reward program or two. He was able to achieve his personal goal and top off his frequent flyer accounts with Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Continental, and British Midland Airlines.
This is an example of creative genius or madness depending on your point of view. If you “get it”, and by that I mean understand the real value of award programs, his efforts are quite remarkable. The logistics, charting, scheduling and even remembering where you parked the cars had to be mind boggling. He used coupons, discount codes and promos to minimize his cost. The rental agents in most cases made him actually take the car off the lot. What a pain that was, actually driving the cars???
Marty inspired me to rent a couple cars from Hertz based on the 1,700 frequent flyer miles I receive for each rental and credit to my British Midland Airlines account. If I was to buy those miles, they would have cost more than the car rental. He has given me a way to fill in the gap if I come up a few miles short of a desired award in the future.
One hundred thousand miles buys a mighty fine premium class airline ticket to an exotic spot somewhere a long way from the USA. Katy and I are going to New Zealand on Monday for three weeks. We are flying Business Class on United Airlines. If we had paid full price for the tickets they would have been about $12,000 each. (We paid about 1/10th of that on a fare mistake, thank goodness). Marty’s cost to acquire one of those tickets through these promotions and a little of his time was about $1,100. I would call that a pretty good use of Marty’s grey matter and time. I applaud him on is effort and success at 1.16 cents per mile.
We all have a threshold of what we will do to gather this alternate currency. If you decide to join us in the game, you’ll develop your own parameters.
Just recently I bought single print photographs from ShutterFly, an online photo processing site. I paid .19 for one photo and had each order shipped separately for a total cost of $1.89. In return I got 1,500 GoldPoints for each order. I spent about $700 on photos I could care less about. They went in the trash the moment I got them. What the $700 really got me was 550,000 GoldPoints. 50,000 GoldPoints equals a $300 hotel stay in London so 11 nights of free stays were worth about $3,300. I used those GoldPoints in Sydney, Australia, Edinburgh, Scotland and around the USA. In about 30% of the award stays the desk clerk forgot to deduct the points from my account. Darn it. I transferred the forgotten points into 25,000 American Airline miles, which is worth about $400 alone.
I used to fill out surveys and questionnaires for 5 miles here and 10 miles there. I’ve grown past that point now. My personal time is just too valuable for the reward received. And I have more creative ways to acquire larger numbers of miles with less effort. “To each, his own” fits in this game.
I’ve been studying frugal travel seriously now for 7 years. Be the topic, frequent flyer miles, routing rules to increase mileage earning, premium fare classes that award higher earning levels, fare wars or consumer promos, etc, etc, etc, I’m still learning from the pros. And there plenty of tricks up their sleeves.