Frequent Flyer Miles Hacking: Tips and Tricks to Fly for Free

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

18 Responses to Frequent Flyer Miles Hacking: Tips and Tricks to Fly for Free

  1. Earl says:

    Hey John – I’ve also had similar experiences with WorldPerks. When they are able to offer me a flight it usually involves an absurd amount of stops and quite a bit of backtracking all over the world. And to date, I haven’t really had much to complain about with Star Alliance. They’ve always been quite accommodating for me. Although, I also avoid US-based airlines whenever possible! I’m even willing to spend more miles to do so!

    I think the point about having a credit card is excellent advice. There is no reason why the typical expenses we incur in our everyday living should not help us earn free flights! We have to spend the money anyway, so it pays to get as much benefit from them as possible of course.
    .-= Earl´s last blog ..A Night Of Miracles In Cancun =-.

  2. John says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with StarAlliance and WorldPerks. Maybe we need to have a forum where we can share tips and tricks??

    Talk to you soon.

  3. Alan says:

    Nice review, John. I recently signed up for a credit card with American Airlines and got credited 30,000 miles within a month of purchases–enough for a free domestic U.S. ticket. Have been saving up miles for the last couple of years and hope to use them in a RTW ticket or some combination of tickets to get me RTW in the next year or two.

  4. Phil says:

    Shame that in Europe they are not so fast and loose with giving air miles for thiings other than flying (or hotel stays).

    • John says:

      Hi Phil,

      The same is true in Japan. It seems only Americans get all of those generous credit card sign up bonuses.

      Which country has the highest personal credit card debt in the world again? 🙂

  5. Anil says:

    Great post, it hurts me on the inside when I hear people who’ve traveled quite a bit say, “I’m not signed up to any mile programs.” Once you use them to get a free ticket or an upgrade you kick yourself for not having signed up sooner. So easy to do and it’s very neglected – also, same with stopovers.

  6. John

    Absolutely AWESOME post – and very timely, too. I just caught George Clooney in ‘Up in the Air’, if you havent seen it – check it out, strikes this whole thing home…

    I fly a lot. And because of the worldwide travel i do I am a member of three FF programs. One here in Asia, one in the US and one is Europe (although the Asian based one – Cathay Pacific’s ‘Marco Polo’ club is the best as it crosses over pretty much everywhere nowadays with partners, etc).

    Star Alliance is also a great set-up, and yes, easy to get bumped up when you’ve done a few miles with them. I regularly get bumped from Business to First with Cathay.

    Anyway, just wanted to touch base and say I love the blog, its great – and if you’re interested, let’s hook up on something together – lots of synergy, I think.

    .-= Chris C. Ducker´s last blog ..Switching Off: Why Entrepreneurs Should Relax More! =-.

  7. […] anyone that that flies even once a year, I recommend checking out John Bardos’ detailed post Frequent Flyer Miles Hacking over at for some tips that every traveler will benefit from. How about you? Do […]

  8. sendaiben says:

    Hi John

    Could you tell me which card you have? The best I have found in Japan is 1 mile per 100 yen, so 1.5 sounds great! Good luck with your last-minute preparations!

    All the best


  9. Carl says:

    Thanks for your post! I also live in Japan and I have a JCB Gold credit card, they are now offering 1 miles per 100 yen and 1.5 miles peru 100 yen from January 2012. One question, can you tell me why you found Saison Gold Card better than JCB? I also have an international Saison United credit card, but I hate Saison only counts domestic purchases for miles. I like that when I get my JCB monthly bill if it says I don’t know 800.000 yen, then I know I will get 8.000 miles (from January 12.000 miles) but in the case of the Saison United Card is a mess sometimes I spend 500.000 yen and I get only 4.000 miles, the next month I spend again 500.000 and I get only 2.500 miles. Anyway why do you think of the JCB United Card? Do you think Saison is better than JCB to get more miles faster?

    • John says:

      Hi Carl,

      I am not sure of your problems with Saison. I have the gold Saison Card and always get 1.5 miles per 100 yen spent regardless of where the purchases are. (It shows up as 1 mile per hundred yen with .5 bonus per 100 yen on my statement.) My wife and I haven’t had any problems getting our miles. Perhaps it was a limited offer when we signed up about 3 years ago but 1.5 miles per 100 yen was the best deal we could find at the time. I also had an American Express Gold card, but canceled it because of the high yearly fees.

  10. Anna says:

    HIya, great article! I need some help to decide which airline I should have all my airpoints with. Which is the best reward schemes or give me more reward for my points? I fly with the Star Alliance partners and my choices are AirNZ, Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines. I have already many points with Singapore airlines after doing a way one to London, and some with Virgin Australia. I think I should have probably collated my points with Virgin Aus, but also saw that I can transfer points to Singapore airlines, but I don’t think I can do vice versa? Many thanks in advance.

    • John says:

      Hi Anna,

      Star Alliance is the best group in my opinion. It doesn’t matter which star alliance partner you fly with because they all use the same award miles. I’m not sure about miles transfers. Often you have to watch for special times when the airlines allow you to transfer miles. Sign up to their email lists to get updates.

  11. John says:

    Resurrecting an old post, I know.. But I would just appreciate that bloggers like yourself and other avid travelers, would begin clarifying that flying with airmiles isn’t 100% free as airlines make you pay for taxes and extra fuel surcharges that equates to almost 2/3 of the total cost price of a normal flight. I have a rewards program with Star Alliance, and it’s always been like this.

    Granted it’s still cheaper, but that just demoralizes me enough to not bother collecting miles in a frenzy way. If a loophole deal comes up, I’ll take it. Otherwise, I really don’t bother.

    I believe there is better value in two situations: Using the airmiles to fly longhaul and upgrading to business or first class.

    I just feel cheated every time I read or hear about travelers boasting of their free travel. Hence my post asking to clarify this situation better 🙂

    Keep up the good work

    • John says:

      Hey John,
      The fees are not 2/3 the cost. They are more like 10% for long haul flights. The typical price we pay for Star Alliance is less that $150 per ticket. There are no fuel surcharges on airmiles tickets.

  12. Serge says:

    Tks John for sharing your knowledge through I would greatly appreciate if you could give me your opinion on the following (I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation): I’m getting very close to the 1 million mark with Star Alliance so I want to get there before considering switching to anything else, but as I’m sure you know United changed their miles allocation system a couple of years ago. I go to Asia (from USA) 4-6 times a year. Until two years ago, each trip there was getting me almost 40,000 miles (with the extra bonus of being 1k). However, because I shop around for pricing and the new system is based on price paid, my last trip, for example, Tampa-Japan-Hong Kong-Japan-San Diego-Ottawa- Tampa gave me under 10,000 miles (although I flew over 22,000 miles). I heard that some Start Alliance partners are still using the old system, do you know which one? Or any tips in getting more miles with Star Alliance (other than paying an arm and a leg)?

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