January 2013 – 1 Million Mile Challenge

Welcome to the January update for the 1 Million Mile Challenge.

I’ve already admitted (check out the beginners guide) that reaching a million miles this year is going to be a stretch. It might take some fancy dancin’, and I’m ok with that.

So, let’s start!

January was a month of starting a lot of programs that will hopefully get me a big jump on miles in the coming year.

I should also note that I have been working to earn a large amount of travel miles the past year, meaning some of the best credit card offers are no longer available to me. Although I will always advocate finding what trip you want to take first (if you have an idea) and then figuring out what miles would be best, I’ve tried to make this list as objective as possible for somebody just wanting to find the best deals.

So, see what we having going on right now:

Cards currently in my wallet:

American Express Gold Card (business)- When I signed up for this card, it had a 50k bonus. It’s gone now, but American Express has offered a personal version at 25k bonus for $2,000 minimum spend. A great deal while it lasts.

American Express Starwoods Preferred – A great versatile card that I think is as valuable as hotel stays as it is airline tickets (which, most notably, converts into American Airline miles and gives you 5k bonus points when you transfer 20k points).

Chase Ink Card (50K bonus) (business)- Still offers a 50k point bonus and gives huge points for business expenses.

British Airways Visa – Even though the $95 annual fee isn’t waived, the 50k avios are a sweet deal.

Business cards, you beg? We aren’t going into details today, but I have applied for business cards as a sole proprietor using only my name and social security number.

Cards I closed:

I had to cancel a chase sapphire card to get the british airways card. I was fine with it, as I had been using the sapphire card for about a year and wanted to close it before the annual fee hit anyway.

I also closed two citi AA cards. The points were in my account and I had been using them, but I need to make room for some other programs. However, these cards are still at the top of my list for recommendations.


So, I will admit, I had the advantage of paying a lot of bills in advance this month. I paid for some business expenses upfront (to take advantage of a 17% discount) and paid my rent in advance.

Therefore, I spent $6,963 this month.

Bonus that hit my account:

I only had one bonus hit my account this month. This was the 10K mile bonus for the first use of my American Express Starwoods card.

This means my total mileage bonus for 2013 is 16,403.

That might not seem like a lot when mounting a million mile mountain, but it’s set me up for some sweet bonuses to hit my account in February.

Yet, even if I didn’t get a bonus, that’s enough miles for a one-way domestic ticket. Nice.

That’s it for now. Leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have a question.

And, of course, if you haven’t joined my email list, do so now and get the beginners guide (which, I’m pretty proud of) straight to your inbox!


  1. says

    Does opening and closing credit cards so frequently negatively affect your credit? I have stellar credit. I don’t want to jeopardize that.

    • john says

      I have a detailed analysis of this posting later this month, but in short, I haven’t recognized any long-term adverse affect on my credit. At the same time, I always advocate acting within reason and taking care of your financial situation properly.

    • says

      I had the same question and found this on the Bankrate web site. Still kinda vague.

      1. Will closing inactive cards hurt?

      Will closing lesser-used low-credit limit (less than $5,000) credit cards or lines of credit harm or help our overall credit scores, given two or three other higher-limit accounts?

      I’m going to start by providing a couple of misconceptions that I hear regularly with regard to closing accounts. No. 1, that the FICO score penalizes you for having too much available credit, and No. 2, that if you close an account, you lose all the history associated with that account.

      It’s just not true that you can have too much available credit. That by itself is never a negative with the score. Sometimes the things you do to get too much can be a problem, such as opening a bunch of new accounts, but for the most part, that’s just kind of an old wives’ tale.

      In terms of eliminating the history, the short answer is, that no, it does not eliminate the history. You can have a closed account, an account you haven’t used for years, and if it’s still on your credit report, if that account is 20 years old, you’re getting credit for having 20 years of history for that account. As long as it’s on the report, you get credit for the history.

    • says

      And they go on to say that closing a card can negatively affect your score because part of your score is based on the ratio of credit you have available and what you are using. But, presumably, you’d be opening another card to earn more points/miles so your ratio would bounce back to around the same spot.

      “Will closing a lesser-used low-limit account help or hurt your score — that depends, and it depends mostly on how much you owe in relation to your limits on all of your accounts. For example, one of the most heavily weighted factors in the scoring — and this accounts for about 30 percent of the score — looks basically at your ratio of balances-to-limits on your credit cards. This is the area we call “amounts owed,” if you’re familiar with the five areas that the score considers. What’s most important in terms of the scoring is credit card debt versus installment debt, such as mortgage or auto loans.

      To answer this, it really depends on how much you owe on those accounts. If you close an account, and you don’t owe anything on it, that account will no longer be included in that calculation that looks at your balances to limits on your credit cards.”

  2. says

    I got my Citi AAdvantage Visa in the mail today. Do I need to start an AAdvantage Frequent Flyer account now, or will that be opened for me automatically when I get my miles after spending the minimum?

    • john says

      You can use it either way. In the future, if you have an account before applying, you can include the account # on your application (there’s typically a place to do so).

      Your options now are to either:
      1) Open an AAdvanage account and then Call Citi and have them add your account number to the card.
      2) Citi will open an account for you when you start earning miles.

        • john says

          From what I can understand (and have tried), no. American Airlines will want you each to have your own AAdvantage account.

          However, if you’re moving points from a Sapphire card, for example, you could move points from her card and your card into the same United account.