The Easy Quarter Million

So you have read our Getting Started Guide, have signed up for frequent flyer accounts, Awardwallet, and have checked your credit via CreditSesame and it is 640 or above. You are now ready to get started with our Easy Quarter Million.  This is the fun stuff you have heard so much about.  I am talking about getting the number of frequent flyer miles and points in 2 or 3 months that would take 10 around the world flights to accomplish in a plane.  And you will be getting all of these miles and points without stepping foot on an airplane or spending any more than you normally would.

Sound too good to be true?  That is what I thought too, but by following the principles I am about to lay out, I ended up going on a 5 month, 15 country, 26 city, 35,000 mile trip of a lifetime. And you can too!

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Relaxing in Thailand

I have scoured the web looking at all of the different offers available and given you the best possible ones to get started.  And when you are done, you will have 240,000 miles and points to plan your getaway!

Before I get too into it, I wanted to give a quick overview of how the credit card bonus process works. In order to get you to choose their card over other competing cards, most cards offer a sign on bonus of some amount of miles or points.  Some of these bonuses are automatically given after the first purchase, but most of them are awarded after spending a certain amount on the card within a certain amount of time.  An example of an offer would be 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 4 months.  This means that once you get the card, as soon as you spend $3,000 and your statement closes, 50,000 miles will be added to the appropriate frequent flyer account. If you go past 4 months and spend less than $3,000 then the bonus will expire (but I  will show you ways to make sure the spend requirement is met).

Whether you want to apply for them all today (in a thing that us in the miles game call an App-O-Rama) or if you want to tackle them one or two at a time is up to you.  If you can meet the spend requirements for them all at the same time it is sometimes easier to get all of the cards today and enjoy the big windfall as the points are awarded to your accounts. I have added the cards in a particular order so you can get some easy points under your belt before tackling the ones with the larger spend requirements.

One other thing is please use the links provided to both support the site and to make sure you get the offer we are telling you about and not some other inferior offer.  Without further ado, here we go!

Easy Quarter Million Card 1) Chase Sapphire Preferred.

This is without a doubt one of the best cards on the market now with a 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points bonus which is awarded after you spend $4,000 within the first 4 months. Check out our full review for all of the benefits of this card. Our full review covers things in more detail, but on top of the bonus, this gives you access to the point earning machine that is the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  I personally have gotten over 300,000 points just this year due to shopping promotions they run and I share with you in articles on this site.  No Foreign Transaction Fees make it a great card to use overseas and the 2X points on dining and travel will come in handy for anyone. If you apply for this card on the same day as the IHG Rewards card, then you will only get instant approval for the first card, but you can call the Chase reconsideration line at 888-245-0625  to get approval without waiting for the letter in the mail.

Easy Quarter Million Card 2) Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Personal Mastercard

AA Plat MC

This card has a 50,000 AAdvantage Mile sign up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.  This card also gives you a free checked bag on American flights, Priority Boarding, 25% off in flight purchases and 10% back for any award miles you redeem (which can be a huge benefit!) This has an $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year (and was easy to get waived with a phone call after the first year for me).  I hold this card close to my heart because I used it to get the miles I used for my Round The World trip (although the offer was 75,000 when I got it).

Easy Quarter Million Card 3) Capital One Venture Visa

Capital One Venture 2The Capital One Venture is a different type of card that gives you “miles” which can be redeemed for credits for travel related expenses.  The sign up bonus of 40,000 miles after $3000 in spending in the first 3 months can be redeemed for $400 in statement credits for any travel expenses.  This allows it to be used for airfare, hotels, taxis, and any other items coded as travel expenses in the Visa system.  The great thing about this card is its flexibility and its earning rate.  Since you get 2 miles for every dollar you spend towards travel expenses, it is in essence a 2% cashback card for travel which is great!

Easy Quarter Million Card 4) Chase IHG Rewards Visa.

This card gives you an amazing 60,000 IHG Rewards points after spending $1000 in the first 3 months.  That is enough for 14 nights at any of the PointBreaks hotels that they have on special each quarter.  So again, get this card, spend $1000 and then stay 14 nights at really nice hotels around the world!   I used 10,000 points during my around the world trip for 2 nights at the Crowne Plaza in Petra, Jordan and was upgraded to a suite, even without status!

This card also instantly gives you Platinum Status with all of the hotels in the IHG Rewards Group (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites.) This gets you upgraded rooms, extended check-out, 50% bonus point earnings, early check-in and more! It also gives a free night every year after the first year at any of the hotels, 5 points per $ for amounts spent at any of their hotels, 2 points per $ for gas, groceries and dining, and 1 point per $ for everything else.  You also get a 10% points rebate on any redemptions and there are no foreign transaction fees which makes it a great card for out of the country use.  There is a $49 annual fee that is waived for the first year, but the free night each year more than makes up for it so this is probably a card you will want to keep as well.

Easy Quarter Million Card 5) Barclays Arrival Mastercard

ArrivalBanner

This card is very similar to our Card #3 because its 40,000 Miles can be used for a variety of travel expenses as a $400 credit on your account after you charge the expenses.  This means that the sign on bonus is work a fixed value of $400 as long as you redeem it for travel expenses.  You can use it for hotels, airfare, car rentals, cruises etc which sets it apart from the other cards.  And since you aren’t redeeming the miles for an award ticket, you will get the frequent flyer miles or points when you use the $400.  You also get an automatic rebate of 10% whenever you redeem miles as a credit which is a nice bonus.  If you want to see our full review on this card, you can check it out here.

Review

If my math is correct, that should give you 230,000 points which almost completes our Easy Quarter Million.  You will have 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points, 50,000 AAdvantage miles, 40,000 Capital One Venture Miles,  60,000 IHG Rewards Points,  and 40,000 Barclays Arrival Miles to plan a trip or trips of a lifetime!  Now comes the fun part, deciding where to go!  I mentioned a few options above but I have just scratched the surface.  How about a trip to Europe to see some of the summer music festivals?  How about a trip to the epic full moon party in Koh Phangan, Thailand?  How about a trip to learn to Tango in Buenos Aires?  It is up to you! How will you use your Easy Quarter Million?

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  • I like it John.  I wish I had vacation time off.

    • TravelWithMiles

      Get the points now then they are there when you get unexpected time off and can jet off to Korea for Ultra 🙂

  • RazorClam

    This is a good strategy but I believe you should mention something about the associated cost (annual fees) to give a clear picture of the cost/reward analysis.

    • TravelWithMiles

      All of the cards except the US Air card have their annual fees waived for the first year. And when they charge you the fee after the first year (if you want to keep the card), you can often get it waived by simply calling in after it posts and threatening to close the card.

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  • *GiGi* :)

    Wow this website is awesome John!! I just wish I had seen it before I applied to Citi AADvantage Platinum MC, lol Definitely sharing it with my friends Xoxo

    • TravelWithMiles

      Glad you like it! Make sure you always use my links because my offers are usually the best ones available. I hope you got 50K for it!

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  • Lola

    Hello, I’m trying to get started today but am wondering if the information provided is still accurate in 2014?!? Thank you for all your help, Love your site!!!

    • TravelWithMiles

      Hey Lola. Yes, the information here is still current. I just fixed one typo that I noticed, but all of the above offers are still active and ready to go in 2014! I noticed you sent me a FaceBook message with some more specific questions so will respond to those there.

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  • Adam

    Thanks so much John for compiling this information and putting it together in such a user friendly format. One quick question for you is should I wait to sign up for all of these credit cards until I’m sooner/closer to going traveling? Will these miles expire? If so do they within a year? If I cancel the credit cards do I loose the miles at that time? Let me know ASAP. Thanks again for all the great information.

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  • adam

    Hi John, I went to Walmart and was told by several employees that you can ONLY purchse Vanilla reloads or bluebird cards, etc.. with Cash or Debit but not a credit card. This seems to throw a wrench in my plan to use the credit card to purchase the reload cards. What should I do?

  • Andy

    Hi John. I am a huge fan of your site. Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us! I have the Capital One Venture card that I use to accumulate flight miles but was looking to apply for a card that has some hotel bonuses. So I liked the looks of the Chase Priority Club Visa on your suggested list. When I click on the link it takes me to the IHG Rewards Club Visa application, which is the same thing that pops up when I google “Chase Priority Club Visa.” Guess this means this is what Chase has transitioned to – do you know anything about this new card? Would you say it’s the best card out there for free hotel stays (after crossing spending threshold)?

    • TravelWithMiles

      Hey there and thanks! Sorry it took a bit to respond but I was in Mexico for about 10 days dancing under the stars! Priority Club was renamed about two years ago to the IHG Rewards club. Same company, same card, new name. It could be the best card depending on how you like to travel and how you redeem the points. If you redeem the 80,000 points for Pointbreaks hotels like I do which are just 5000 points a night then it can be in incredible value. See this article for what I am talking about. http://www.travelwithmiles.com/2014/07/book-ihg-pointbreaks-5000-point-hotel/
      I also really like the SPG Amex card. The bonus is smaller at just 25K (with promotions at 30K from time to time) but the points are more valuable. I can regularly get 4+ cents per point with those which is much harder to do with IHG points. Plus I would say on average the Starwood properties (such as W, Westin, Sheraton brands) are nicer than the IHG properties (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn).
      The last thing I want to mention is that IHG often has incredible promotions such as the current Set You Sights promotion where you can get 50K or more points with usually just a few stays so that is something to consider as well. See this article about that promotion to see if it is right for you. http://www.travelwithmiles.com/2014/12/earn-50k-ihg-points-ihg-set-sights-promotion/

  • Steve

    The cards that you suggest for the most part appear to be US cards, does this work for Canadians as well? Can those of us north of the border apply for these cards?

    • TravelWithMiles

      All of these cards for only for the US people unfortunately. I know there are some cards out there for Canadians but I haven’t looked into it too much. It is an idea for a future article though and I will reply to this post if I do one.

  • kat

    john i wanna get a travel rewards card but my credit is just starting up, i must be around 600 or less due to a problem w a macys card where i was an authorized user and the person stopped paying it and i was not advised of. is it possible for me to get for example the AA citi card? or should i wait until that dispute is finally taken off? (creditor and person made a payment and card was charged off).

    • TravelWithMiles

      Hey Kat, I’m just seeing this message now so sorry for there tardy reply. If your score is around 600 then you will want to start with our Credit Repair 101 page to fix whatever you can and get your score up. I’ve had really good luck with people getting charge off’s removed so you definitely should go through that process. I’ve actually be offering a limited time credit repair service for people who need help for $100 for their first round of disputes. Shoot us an email at webmaster@travelwithmiles.com if that is something that you would like to pursue.

  • katia

    john , are we supposed to get all these cards at the same time? sorry i must have gotten confused at one point. please advise!

    • TravelWithMiles

      Hey Katia! I would say do whatever you are comfortable with. The point I try to get across is that applying for more than one at a time isn’t a crazy or risky thing as long as you can meet the spending requirements (which is easy to do by buying gift cards if your normal spending won’t make it). And when you see two or three sign up bonuses all hit within a few months it really motivates you to continue. If I had to guess I would say most people start with the first two cards and then once they get those miles, move onto the next cards.

  • Wayne Tiberius Feuer

    I am now applying for cards 3 and 4 (having completed the spending requirements for CSP and almost done for Citi AAdvantage. Just a few things. You calculate the points to be under 250,000 after meeting spending requirements, but you forget the points earned when making those purchases. So even at a 1:1 ratio, with CSP and Citi AA, you would earn another 7k points. By the time all 5 cards are applied for, and spending requirements met – you do, in fact, end up with over 250k. Next, as to the Citi AA – it appears the card starts you at MC World status, but soon after receipt of the initial card, it is upgraded to World Elite (have read articles, but would like for you to explain the difference if you would).

    Also – with CSP and Citi AA – most impressed with the concierge services (planning a trip up and down the cali coast – and they really took the time to understand my needs, and to make great suggestions, itineraries, and hotel and restaurant partners).

    I know that you are probably rewarded somehow when we follow the links in your article (and you should be). FYI – your link to IHG is broken and sends me to an un-secure sight. You might want to fix that.

    Note also: CSP offers an additional 5k points be adding an authorized user. While it says that person needs to make a purchase, it is not true. I received the 40k + 5k points without having used the authorized user card (with same account number on card anyway).

    Query: Why don’t you discuss Amex Gold? I have been getting adverts offering between 50k -75k points. The pricetag of $195 annual fee has kept me away from this card currently.