Can One Person Earn Enough Miles for Two?

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I get a lot of emails from people who want to travel with a companion, but their companion can’t open credit cards. Maybe the companion doesn’t have a social security number or just has bad credit. Whatever the reason: can one person get enough miles for two people to take a vacation in style?

Here’s a typical email from Dan:

I am interested in using you for award booking for a European vacation for Summer 2014 in business class.

I am also interested in having you help me determine a strategy for which cards to get in order to execute this trip.

Let me tell you my situation:

My wife can open credit cards for herself and a business, but I can’t. We dipped our toe into the awards card world by signing up for 3 cards over 3 months:

  • Delta Gold Amex, 12/12
  • SPG Amex, 1/13
  • Barclays US Air, 2/13

The more I read, the more I realize that going with Delta was probably a mistake.

I’m coming to you for advice as we plan our first app-o-rama. For the trip we want, should we stick with Delta? Or do we have time to focus on another carrier?

Our current balances are:

  • Delta 31k
  • SPG 30k
  • US Airways 40k

Not only can Dan and his wife get to Europe in business class, they are only one three cards away.

The Plan

US Airways and United are partners, both members of the Star Alliance. That means US Airways miles can be used on

  • US Airways flights
  • United flights
  • Star Alliance flights
  • or any combination thereof.

United miles can be used on those same

  • US Airways flights
  • United flights
  • Star Alliance flights
  • or any combination thereof.

Both US Airways and United charge 100k miles roundtrip to Europe, so if you get 100k of each type of miles, two people are all set to fly roundtrip in business class on the same flights.

Dan’s current balances are very helpful, so his wife just needs to get three cards to fill the gaps.

  1. US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase
  2. Chase Sapphire Preferred with 40,000 Ultimate Rewards after $3,000 in spending in the first 3 months
  3. Chase Ink Bold with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $5,000 in spending in the first 3 months

Dan already has one US Airways MasterCard, but in pretty much everyone’s experience, you can get two. See Easily Earn 110k US Airways Miles. (And by the way, be on the lookout for the targeted 15k offers in the mail for continued spending on the card.)

There isn’t much to say about the Sapphire Preferred. It has been the “it” card for the last 18 months in the frequent flyer world. Dan would be better off getting the Chase United Explorer card if he can find it with a 50,000 mile bonus offer, but if not, then he should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The Chase Ink Bold is a business card.

Get those cards and meet the minimum spends, and your new balances will be

  • Delta 31k
  • US Airways 70k
  • SPG 30k
  • Ultimate Rewards 98k

Dan will probably have over 100k Ultimate Rewards since the Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on dining and travel, and the Ink Bold offers 5x points at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, land line, internet, and cable TV services (on the first $50k of spending annually.) Worst case scenario: he buys the last 2k Ultimate Rewards for $50.

Remember that his goal is to have 100k United miles and 100k US Airways miles. Here’s how to get there.

Transfer 100k Ultimate Rewards to United. Now he has 100k United miles.

Transfer 25k SPG to US Airways. This will show up as 30k US Airways miles with the automatic transfer bonus. Added on to his balance of 70k US Airways miles, he will have 100k US Airways miles.

Dan has now met his goal of having 100k United miles and 100k US Airways miles.

That’s enough to get two seats on the same flights on a roundtrip in business class to Europe.
Dan’s QuestionsDo I combine the United and US Airways miles?No. You use the United miles to book one award on united.com or by calling United at 800-UNITED-1. You use the US Airways miles to book one award by calling US Airways at 800-622-1015. You just make sure each award has the same flights, so you’ll be on the same planes with each other.We are booking through different carriers, I assume we will attempt to book seats together, and that the only differences will be what counter we go to for check-in?

The way to choose seats is to call the operating carrier and request seats. So if your flights are on Lufthansa, you call Lufthansa.

You check in at the operating carrier of the first flight, so you check in at the same counter at the airport.

Recap

One person can earn enough miles for two people to travel in style to Europe. The key is to earn 100k United miles and 100k US Airways miles. The miles can’t be combined, but they can be used to each book one seat on the same flights, so the two companions can travel together.


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13 COMMENTS

  1. I live in Japan  and Japanese.
    There are not many benefits of the card in Japan.
    Does even a Japanese have a recommended thing by an available card?
    Thank you very much for your advice.

    • I don’t think there is much. You can try for JAL and ANA based cards
      でも、アメリカのカードはちょっと難しい =\

    • I don’t know any Japanese cards. The best thing you can probably do is buy US Airways miles for 1.88 cents each for 90k roundtrip fares from Japan to the US in business class.

  2. Love this post! I just wrote a post tonight about how I’m taking my family to Europe for a month and I am the only mile and point earning in our family. My husband’s credit is excellent but he doesn’t play the game. If anyone is interested in seeing my detailed plan of how I am flying for free and staying for free in the UK for 24 nights, check my post here:http://milesmomma.com/miles-momma-united-kingdom-adventures-april-2013/
    There are alot of families who need to know this game is for them too! Thanks MileValue for this article! Great one! Love your strategies! Your mind thinks alot like mine!

  3. I have a question about the 91 day best practice. I will use my recent Chase application as an example.

    The credit “Inquiry” hit my credit report last year on Dec 15 2012, a few days after I submitted the application. However a “New account” entry on my credit report for this card was not recorded on my credit report until Feb 10 2013.

    Which date should be used for the 91 day rule? 12/15/2012, or 2/10/2013?

  4. Hi! Thank you for this timely article..With the possibility of the USairways merger with American, wont the US airways miles be useful only with ONE world alliance? i.e. Are’nt they leaving Star Alliance?

    • I’ll be posting about my strategy to play the merger in the next few days. Suffice it to say, your US miles will allow you to book Star Alliance itineraries for at least the rest of 2013, and that means the flights you book can be flown through at least all of 2014 because you can book flights 11 months out. (I predict.)

  5. I need to figure out to go to Brazil for Fifa world cup next yr, and on the process use Free 1 way to go to Hawaii. will you be posting any thing on the the world cup process?

  6. This game is almost over, that is the card churning and many other venues that were open to earn miles and points from nothing.

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