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Yearly Recap: How Many Airline Miles Have We Earned?

As you probably already know, Chris and I love collecting airline miles and points so that we can travel more, save money, and maybe upgrade into luxury. The biggest surprise to you may be that we only started doing this about one year ago. That’s right… we haven’t been hoarding miles for years and years. In fact, Chris didn’t even start until June. Another big shock: only 1% of the miles we’ve earned were from actually flying! So, how many airline miles have we earned?

Let’s start with which airlines that we have miles with. I have collected miles with United, American Airlines, and Delta. I also have points with my Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards that can be transferred to several airlines. Chris has American Airlines, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and United. We also flew British Airways to South Africa and earned 10,000 miles.

Chris and I pointing at our map with backpacks on

Let’s talk miles!

United Miles

When we first started planning our honeymoon, we knew that we wanted to fly business and the best way to afford that is using miles. This led to me searching online for which airlines had better redemptions for Southeast Asia via their partners, leading us to United Airlines. Thanks to United, we’ll be flying Asiana to our honeymoon with a long layover to explore Seoul and flying EVA and United back. And we’ll be in business class where it costs us 180,000 miles and $60 each. Crazy, right?!

Along with using the United Mileage Plus Explorer cards and transferring points over from Chase Ultimate Rewards, we also used United’s Dining Portal, where you can sign up and register your credit card and it’ll give you bonus miles for dining with restaurants on their list. We also used the Mileage Plus X app, which allows us to buy gift cards for multiple stores to use in order to earn extra miles. With that and the signup bonuses from those credit cards, we were able to rack up 180,000 miles each on top of an extra 465 miles for myself and 1,611 miles for Chris.

How many airline miles with United: 362,076.

American Airlines

These miles are relatively new and as a result of me getting a fantastic offer in the mail from American Airlines. They had a higher than normal sign-up bonus of 65,000 miles for their AA Advantage Gold Card. So I jumped at that opportunity. Also, we saw notices for the Barclaycard AA Aviator card where all we had to do was pay the annual fee of $95 and make one purchase of any amount and we were granted 60,000 miles. We both opened that card and boom! Loads of miles for us! I also had to hit the minimum spend of $6,000 to get the 65,000 miles from the AA Advantage card, but with us paying for our catering for our wedding, we knocked that out really quickly.

How many airline miles with American Airlines: 191,028.

Delta

I was the only one to collect Delta miles this year. I had a great offer of 60,000 miles for the Delta Gold card last year and it was one of the first cards I opened. Then, I opened the Platinum Card when it hit an astounding 70,000 miles bonus offer in the fall. I’m saving these miles for later (I’ll discuss more below), but I was so happy to get these. I used some for a redemption on a flight from Cleveland to Nashville too which saved me $400 and only cost 16,500 miles.

How many airline miles with Delta: 133,433.


TripAdvisor

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of my favorite ways to collect miles and points as Chase points transfer to multiple airlines and hotels and you can even redeem them on their own travel portal. In fact, I redeemed for a flight from Cleveland to DC for a trip next month where it only cost 10,567 miles. It was a pretty good deal compared to other airline redemptions I was seeing. We collected these through our Chase Sapphire Preferred cards and Chase Freedom cards. While most of our miles got transferred over to United to book our honeymoon back in December, we’ve managed to build up miles again thanks to Chase’s shopping portal, which I used to gain extra miles while Christmas shopping, double miles on travel and dining with CSP, and Chase Freedom’s 5 points back categories. I was able to sock away 25,015 miles and Chris got 13,993.

How many airline miles with CUR: 39,008.

So, how many airline miles have we earned this year? 735,545. That’s right. Only 10,000 were actually earned while flying. The rest was from credit card signups, shopping portals, dining at selected restaurants, and just normal spending. I earned 474,941 miles and Chris earned 206,604 miles.

Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Our honeymoon sounds like a good place to start redeeming miles!

Okay so we’ve collected hundreds of thousands of miles in one year… but what are we going to do with them?

While collecting that many airline miles seems impressive, they aren’t worth anything if you don’t use them! That’s the best part! So that’s break down what we’ve got planned:

  1. Flight from Cleveland to DC round trip for 10,567 miles. I discussed this above, but I’m using this for a quick weekend trip to see my sister next month that I otherwise may not have done had I not had the extra miles sitting in my Chase account.
  2. Flight from Cleveland to Nashville round trip for 16,500 miles. I’m going to Nashville for a long weekend in May to have a reunion with some of the amazing women that I met while studying abroad in Grenoble, France. Thanks to these miles saving me $400, I was able to go on this trip and reunite with some people I haven’t seen in 6 years!
  3. The biggest flight redemption we’ve made: our honeymoon to SE Asia in business class! This redemption was amazing! While it cost us 180,000 miles and $60 each, it was beyond worth it for a long flight like that. We even get a 15-hour layover to explore Seoul before visiting Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Chiang Mai, Koh Lipe, and Bangkok, Thailand.
Buda Castle, Budapest.

My bucket list item, visiting Europe around Christmas- may be a plan!

These are the trips we have so far, but that still leaves us with 348,478 miles left to burn. Here are some plans in the works for 2019!

  1. Give my Delta miles to fly my parents round trip to Europe for their special anniversary trip! This will cost 120,000 miles and giving this to my parents is so great. We announced at Christmas so they could start planning and get time off work, but us kids are planning to get their flights and hotels throughout Europe as they gallivant around three unique locations in 2 weeks!
  2. Our round trip flights to Peru using American Airlines: 70,000 miles. American has great flights to Peru, and great redemptions depending on the time of year. Top that off with the overall affordability, and we’re hoping to make a 12-day getaway out of it!
  3. One of my biggest bucket list items: the European Christmas markets! Using American Airlines off peak miles, it’ll only cost us 90,000 miles, or 45,000 miles each, to fly to Europe in the winter. We’re making a much-needed family vacation out of it with Chris’s family. I am so excited for this one!

Those are some plans we’re thinking about so far, totaling 280,000 miles. That means we still have 68,478 miles left to spare! Maybe we’ll take a trip out west? Who knows? But the fact that just by one year of saving miles, we’ve got enough for 10 round trip flights in the US, Europe, South America, and Asia, with two of those flights being business class! That’s about two year’s worth of travel for one year of saving miles!


Vegan Food Trips

Map with camera and passport.

Where to next and how will we get there?

What are our miles collecting plans for 2018?

This year we’ve started out strong with the American Airlines cards, but I’d like to look into possibly getting a premium card that includes Global Entry or TSA Precheck (maybe the Amex Platinum or Citi Presitge or even upgrading my Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Reserve?). I’ve also thought about collecting more hotel points like with Hilton. But the biggest cards we’d like to get more of would be cards that are like Chase Ultimate Reward cards where you can transfer your points to multiple airlines or hotels. These include Citi Thank You Premier, Amex Everyday Preferred, or the Premier Rewards Gold card by Amex. Lastly, airline-branded cards that I’m looking into so far are British Airways and Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines does have the famous companion pass and decent redemptions, so it’s worth looking into.

That’s it for this year. When it comes to saving miles, it is 100% worth it. We’ve saved over $10,000 on our airfare for this year (business class isn’t cheap if you pay in cash) and are looking to save $4,000 next year too! If the most expensive part of a vacation is the flight, and that can be slashed down to less than $100 a person, it makes flying anywhere cheaper and vacations more frequent. I hope you take my advice and start planning some awesome trips for you and your love! Happy traveling!

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