For those of you making over $423 a minute, or $25,386 an hour, don’t waste your time reading my article or learning about frequent flyer miles.  Don’t even waste time brushing your teeth!  Just do keep doing whatever the heck it is you do and enjoy taking baths in your money.

Everyone else, continue reading.

A month ago, I wrote about the Joy of Miles and how frequent flyer miles were giving my parents the opportunity to visit me in Japan and to even fly home in first class.  Now, I’m getting an even better surprise:  My sister will also be joining them in Japan as one stop on her around the world itinerary.

My sister’s a missionary who will begin serving pilgrims on the Santiago de Compostelo in July, so you know she’s not rolling in money.  So how’s she able to jetset to visit friends in New Zealand and then come see me and Heather in Japan before flying over to Spain?

Simple:  MILES!

The first thing I always hear when talking to people about travel is “I’d love to go to ________, but I don’t have the money.”

Ok, no problem.  I introduce them to the perfect solution:  collecting frequent flyer miles.

They listen, usually intrigued but still skeptical, and the next thing I usually hear out of their mouth is “but I don’t have time to learn about all that.”

Really?  What if I showed you how 10 minutes of your time could be worth $4,321?

10 minutes? Yeah, right!

Go get a timer (iPhone, egg timer, count “mississippi’s in your head…it doesn’t matter). Set it to ten minutes, hit start and..

1.  Go to the Best Current Deals page and click on the link for the Citi/AAdvantage cards (it’s the #1 deal, so you can’t miss it).

2. Open up one tab for the Mastercard application and one tab for the Visa application.

3.  Fill in the information and hit submit simultaneously.

Did that take you more than 10 minutes?  I didn’t think so!

Want more proof that it takes less than 10 minutes?  My sister followed this same procedure last June, has done nothing extra since, and has a bankroll of 150k AA miles in her account (you’ll be receiving 100k AA miles because the current deal is for 50k miles a card, not 75k like when she signed up).

Ok, so what about this $5,000 you promised?  That’s got to be exaggeration, right?


Again, let’s look at my sister Gale.  Her itinerary looks like this:

June 9th:  New York (JFK) to Auckland, New Zealand (AKL).

June 22nd:  Auckland (AKL) to Tokyo, Japan (NRT)

July 4th:  Nagoya, Japan (NGO) to Santiago de Compostela, Spain (SCQ)

Her cost in miles:

JFK-AKL in economy class:  32.5k AA

AKL-NRT in economy class:  30k AA

NGO-SCQ in business class:  35k AA

Total:  97.5k AA miles.

I’m no math major but even I know that 97.5 < 100 (your signup bonus for the two Citi cards).  The ten minutes you just took to get those 2 Citi/AAdvantage cards could net you a trip EXACTLY like my sisters!

Now let’s take a look at how much it would cost for her to take the same trip if she paid for her tickets.  I’ll be using the prices I found on the ITA Matrix, the website travel agents use to find the absolute best prices for airline tickets and the #1 go to for flying experts when looking to purchase tickets.

Flight #1:  JFK-AKL in economy

The cheapest ticket she’d be able to find would be $1,131, flying Air New Zealand and AA.  While not the exact same ticket that she booked with miles, all the important parts are comparable (duration, time departing, etc).  Her actual ticket on Qantas would cost $1,431, so if she was actually buying tickets, she’d save the $300 and book the cheaper one.

Flight #2:  AKL-NRT in economy

Because the flight departs from New Zealand, prices are shown in NZD. I’ve converted the prices to US dollars below.

The cheapest ticket is $836 US dollars (1,063 NZ dollars) but takes 21 hours because of a layover.  The actual ticket she booked with miles is with Air New Zealand is direct and costs $858 USD (1,091 NZD).  Saving 10 hours for only $22 more?  Ummm…yeah!

Total cost so far:  $1,131 + $858 = $1989

Flight #3 NGO (Nagoya, Japan)-SCQ (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) in economy

A list of possibilities with prices in yen. 83 yen = $1

The decision to fly out of Nagoya instead of Tokyo was made because Nagoya airport is closer to my home in Japan and easier for my sister to get to.  I checked Tokyo tickets just to be thorough and the prices were the same.

The cheapest possible ticket is $1,630 (130,410 yen) but this is a bad option since it takes 35 hours.  My sister’s actual ticket booked with miles will take 20 total hours, so I found the cheapest possible ticket with a comparable duration.

A list of flights that have durations somewhat close to 20 hours.

The best ticket for both price and duration is a China Southern and Finnair ticket for $2,242 (179,420 yen).  While it takes almost 23 hours, as opposed to 20, and makes 3 stops instead of 2, I’d prefer this ticket to what her actual Finnair + Iberia flight would cost (see below)

The out of pocket price for her ticket would be $7,915 (633,260 yen)! That’s insane!

Ok, so let’s look at our total costs:

Total cost for the cheapest comparable flights: $1,131 + $858 + $2,242 = $4,231

Totals cost for purchasing her exact same flights:  $1,431 + $858 + $7,915 = $10,204

If we add it all up, we get 10 minutes of your time = $4,231.  

Still believe that you “don’t have enough time” for frequent flyer miles?

Those of you who are already converts, have you had trouble convincing friends and family of the awesomeness of frequent flyer miles?  What are the best trips have you taken with miles that you’d never be able to afford to pay for?  Comment below!

(image courtesy of Delwin Steven Campbell)

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