Scoring a heap of points is not as easy as it used to be. Almost every bank is tightening up the rules for earning a credit card sign-up bonus. Not to worry, with a little work and patience, you can still get yourself plenty of points for next-to-free travel.
It’s that time of the year
As we approach the holiday season, almost every business is offering some type of bonus or incentive to spend money. When you buy goods with the intent to resell, that works out great in your favor.
The American Airlines shopping portal will give you up to 5,000 additional points when you spend $1,500 through their retailers. (until Nov 20th). One of those retailers is Back Country. For every dollar spent at Back Country, you will earn 12 American Airline points.
Give me the Bonus
The 12x point bonus can change at any time, but 12x AA points @ Back Country, at the moment, is a huge bonus. I purchased four GoPro Hero5 action cameras at $399 a piece. These cameras are still a bit difficult to find in store, so getting most if not all of your money back should be easy. Four GoPro’s at $399 means I spent $1,600, exceeding the $1,500 spend threshold.
You can resell these cameras on eBay or in-person on Craigslist. To be ultra-conservative, I will assume that you will only be able to sell each camera for $375. That would mean you’d lose $100 by reselling these cameras. You are wondering why in the world I would buy something to resell at a $100 loss. Read on.
By spending $1,600 with a bonus of 12x American Airline points per dollar, I earned 19,200 AA points/miles shopping on Back Country. Additionally, I will earn 5,000 AA bonus points since I exceeded $1,500 in purchases before Nov 20th. 5,000 points + 19,200 = 24,200 American Airlines points. If I lose $100, I essentially purchased 24,200 miles for $100 plus my time. (I plan on breaking even of these cameras, but I want to error on the side of caution)
What award travel can I get with 24,200 American Airline miles?
Glad you asked, you can get a one-way ticket to Europe! American Airlines charges only 22,500 miles for one-way flights to Europe in the off-season. The off-season for Europe is between these dates: January 10 – March 14 & November 1 – December 14.
American Airlines partners with AirBerlin for travel to Europe with very little fees. I found plenty of one-way flights from Phoenix to Venice for 22,500 one-way. With just $17 in fees you are looking at an “overall cost” of $117 for a one-way to Italy, plus your time to sell the cameras. (assuming you only sell each for only $375 a piece)
If you are interested in visiting a different European city, I have good news. AirBerlin connects to a ton of cities. All these cities in red below qualify for the 22,500 one-way rate. (Assuming you find a SAAver fare). You will catch your connection in either Dusseldorf or Berlin on your way from the States.
The second piece to consider is the credit card you are charging the $1,600 on. If you have a minimum spend to hit, this a great time to hack away at your minimum spend. I put the $1,600 on my SPG card earning me 1,600 SPG points. $1,600 points are valued at least $37, another earning potential to take into account.
You can stay at a category one SPG hotel for as little as 2,000 points per night. Just a 2.5 hour train ride from Venice, Italy, you can stay at the Four Points Ljubljana for as little as 2,000 points a night. You would be just 400 SPG points shy of a free hotel stay, and that is in addition to your 24,200 AA points earned.
You just need a little creativity to score some really cheap travel. A typical one-way ticket to Venice, Italy is going to run you $350-$600, give-or-take the season. If you can get there for $117, you are saving a good chunk of cash.