From a simple round trip flight from New York to London and paying two cellphone bills, my wife and I are due to receive 170,000 frequent flyer miles. For anyone keeping score thats over six and nearly seven times around the world worth of miles. It’s not a sensationalist headline. It’s real calculated, real clever spending. Unlike the storm blowing up the east coast right now, which will likely destroy homes, perfect storm opportunities like those found below present themselves in the flying world bringing major benefits, savings and very happy homes. 

two people sitting in chairs


Laura, my wife, is from London. We live in New York. Going home for Christmas is Laura’s most important event of the year, even in a year where we got married ; ) For us, buying international plane tickets during the peak Christmas season is therefore an annual necessity and one that we plan for. This year we chose to time our purchase around the opening of a new top notch travel credit card and an airline promotional mileage bonus for buying certain tickets. You’ll figure out why…

a christmas tree in a terminal

The Bonuses

Citi Prestige card is a tremendous offering which comes chock full of benefits and savings for anyone who travels more than twice a year, anywhere. The card offers 50,000 Citi Thank You points after $3,000 in spending within the first three months. Essentially you need to spend a thousand a month for three months. Very easy if you pay your cell phone bill, gas bill, television bill or especially your car bill. The card also comes with lounge access for the cardmember and two guests which makes travel instantly better!

British Airways and their partners American Airlines, Iberia and Finnair are celebrating four years (or maybe it’s five?) of their partnership across the Atlantic. In celebration they are offering 25,000 miles for every round trip business class ticket you book up to 125,000 miles per person or five round trips. I know what you’re thinking, business is like $5,000 or more dollars per person. It’s not and it wasn’t. And yes, if you are someone who travels for work regularly you should absolutely sign up for the promotion.

Citi Gold Checking had (offer expired Sept. 30) an offer code which you could find publicly for anyone who had one of their credit cards. Without any opening deposit requirement, if you paid one bill a month for two months from the new checking account you received 40,000 further Citi Thank You points, transferrable to many leading airlines. 

a woman in a chair with headphones

The Logistics

Using the AARP discount (available to everyone regardless of age) we were able to find deep discounts on already discounted business class fares. Flights from New York to London in business class were pricing out around $1700 round trip and to Paris was coming in a couple hundred dollars cheaper. Expensive? Absolutely. I’m with you. The thing is we were prepared to pay $1000 per person for standard economy, an expense we were going to experience regardless, which wouldn’t have triggered any of the bonuses. For $700 more per person we traded economy and baggage fees for flat beds, lounges and three free bags. Oh, I forgot to mention that the Citi Prestige offers a $250 airfare credit and rewards you with 3x points on airfare purchases made directly with airlines. With the airfare credit we got back $250 of the added expense immediately and got nearly 10,000 additional Citi Thank You points on top of the 50,000 + 40,000. After registering, by going business we were able to additionally lock in the 25,000 mile bonus from British Airways. Per person! We were due to receive at least 10,000 miles for the flights and with the bonus we will now receive at least 35,000 per person! 70,000 miles combined off one one round trip! Insanity!

a bed in a plane

What Can You Do With 170,000 Miles?!

Well… Alot. Roughly 100,000 of those points are with the Citi Thank You program. If I wanted to use the points as cash I could get up to $1600 worth of free flights on American Airlines with that bonus alone, enough to cover one of the tickets we paid for! Two for one! If we used the points by transferring them to an airline they would be enough to go just about anywhere in the world for one person in business class round trip or economy for two. Mind you, we haven’t even touched the British Airways miles yet. With those we will be able to redeem them a variety of ways, one of the best being short haul flights under 650 miles in one direction for 9,000 miles a piece round trip. That’s seven round trip flights for free between us yet to come! Alternately we could book a one way in business class from New York to London or similar European or US destination. 

a woman standing on a rocky hill with her arms raised


Look I know this isn’t for everyone and sadly bonuses abroad rarely rival anything near what we experience in the United States. Thanks competitive greedy banks?! Anyway the neat thing about this is that none of these bonus miles were because of having a previous elite status where extra flying miles are granted. This was purely an anyone can walk up to the plate and do this approach. As elites with British Airways we will actually even earn a few more miles than we mentioned….

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Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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