How Spending $434.50 at Walgreens Earned Us 864,000 Frequent Flier Miles and Hotel Points

The more than 30 credit cards we used to earn more than 864,000 points and miles in 2015.

The more than 30 credit cards we used to earn more than 864,000 points and miles in 2015.

I have charged over $50,000 on credit cards in 2015.

That spending produced:

  • Over 250,000 AAdvantage Miles
  • Over 150,000 Mileageplus Miles
  • Over 80,000 Chase Sapphire Points
  • Over 120,000 Starwood Guest Preferred Points
  • Over 70,000 IHG Hotel Points
  • Over 150,000 Hilton Hhonors Points

Though we did charge over $50,000 on our credit cards, we didn't actually spend anywhere close to that much. 

Our total out of pocket cost for all these miles and points?

$434.50

How?

Credit Card Bonuses

At any given time, every major airline and hotel chain has a branded credit card that offers a signup bonus for new card holders. Spend a few grand on the card and you earn a bonus chunk of miles or points good for flights or stays. 

These bonuses are always present but peak during spring and fall when just $2000 in spending can earn you 50,000 miles, enough for an international domestic ticket from JFK to Delhi, India. 

In almost every case, these cards are available in both a personal and a business version, each of which allow you to earn the bonus. 

Over the course of 2015, we applied for dozens of cards in order to reap their spending bonuses. Combined this meant over $50,000 of spending we needed to do to earn the bonus. 

So how did we charge $50,000 but spend just $434.50?

Manufactured Spending

Our secret weapon?

Walgreens.

I've visited over a dozen here in Chicago, sometimes as many as four in a two hour period. And each time I've spent over $500, sometimes as much as $2,000 in a single afternoon.

Within 3-4 days, I had that money back in my bank account and was able to pay off my the credit card bill in full. 

How?

Using these:

Some of the more than 100 Paypal My Cash Cards I bought in 2015.

Some of the more than 100 Paypal My Cash Cards I bought in 2015.

Paypal MyCash cards were used to manufacture spending. 

You can load MyCash cards like a gift card at most Walgreens here in Chicago. Most importantly, at some locations, they will allow you to load it with a credit card. 

Loading each card costs $3.95 and you can load up to $500 at a time. Once the cash had loaded into my Paypal account, I just transferred to our checking and paid the bill in full. 

On the Paypal side, you can load no more than $500 per day and $4000 per month per account. Jess and I each had a personal and a business account, making it possible for us to load up to $2000 a day and $16,000 a month. 

$50,000 in spending, $500 at a time, meant 100 MyCash transactions at $3.95 each.

100 X $3.95 (plus tax) = $434.50

$434.50 for over 864,000 miles and points.  

CAUTIONARY NOTE: Tracking, timing and executing $50K in credit card spending over the course of a year was not undertaken casually. Attempting something like this can affect your credit score, your relationship with your bank and your status as a Paypal user. Do not attempt this unless you have done considerable research on the risks.