My new friend Linda asked me on my Facebook Page if it’s possible to fly to Africa for free. The answer is hell, yeah! You can even make a little profit.
I love starting newbies with Citibank American Advantage cards, because it’s so easy, it’s like a prep school. You apply for two credit cards at a time, grab your 100,000 miles bonus after meeting a moderate spend requirement, and you’re good to go anywhere in the world. The problem with AA, however, is that for the reason unbeknownst to me they just love pushing mile redemptions on their partner British Airways. And British, well, it’s a fine airline, but they have this funny idea that people are so dumb, they would think nothing of paying exorbitant amounts of money for the so-called “fuel surcharges”. Now, fuel surcharges scam is nothing new, and most of the European airlines play this game with different degrees of arrogance, but British really takes it to the extremes. They charge so much that their so-called “free ticket” can easily rival a paid fare on another airline.
Granted, British is much more competitive in Europe, since they do not add fuel surcharges on their intra-Europe flights, but they are terrible for crossing the pond. Either pond. And for flying to Africa, which applies to our current situation here.
How terrible? $600-1000 and more per roundtrip in economy, that’s how.
So why am I ranting about British Airways in this post? Because there is no easy, uncomplicated way to redeem your AAdvantage miles to Kenya without flying on British. And while you might feel that paying $600 for a flight that would otherwise cost you over two grands is not such a bad deal, there are better ways, like actually getting paid for your troubles.
So, Linda, if you’re still here, this is what you do to get there for free.
1. Go to this two credit card applications and fill them out:
I’ve said it before, but will repeat: it’s OK to apply for a business credit card even if you don’t run an official business. If you sell stuff on Ebay or garage sale or have a hobby that you hope will turn into a side business one day, that’s all it takes. Put your SSN number in the EIN field and retype your own name as a business name. That’s usually all it takes.
2. Now depending on your current situation do one of the following:
a) if you don’t have more than 1 or 2 cards with Chase, apply for both cards one after another. You might not receive an instant approval, but that’s fine. 2-3 days later call them and explain that you need two cards to separate your expenses.
b) if you do have more than 2 cards with Chase, I’d apply for Chase Ink Plus first, and for Sapphire Preferred in 2 months or so to be on the safe side. The reason being is that Chase Ink may raise the spend requirement to $10,000 again at any time.
3. You’ll need to charge $3,000 in 3 months for the Sapphire and $5,000 for the Ink Plus. Yes, that’s $8,000 total. But Chase Ink Plus currently has 0% APR for 6 months, so it’s easier than ever to complete the spend requirement. If you are not sure that you’ll be able to spend that much in a short period of time, delay your second application, but again, start with the Ink. Please make sure you spend money on goods and services you buy anyway. Never spend more money than you can afford or buy stuff you don’t need only to meet spend requirement. As a reminder, my book has a dedicated chapter on meeting the spend.
4. Go to United website and sign up for free Mileage Plus account. Then write down the number you get.
5. After meeting the spend, you’ll receive 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points–10,000 more than you need for your flight. Go to the Ultimate Rewards website or call their number and transfer your points to the United. The transfer is easy and instantaneous.
6. Go back to United and plan your vacation to Nairobi, Kenya. Check the screenshot below. Since I have no idea where you’re coming from, all my examples are for JFK departures.
6. But I promised you will get paid, right? Well, remember those surplus 10,000 UR points left? Go back to the Ultimate Rewards website and redeem these points for $100 cash. After $87 in taxes you’ll have $13 left. However, if you intend to collect more UR points, I wouldn’t redeem them for cash because they are more valuable being used for travel transfers.
7. That’s it. Pack and go! Hope it was fun.
If you think you could use some FREE, quality travel time in your near or even not so near future, check my books. More free flights and free luxury hotel stays are just moments away! Check them out. You’ll be glad you did!