Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

How to buy 1 million air miles for $6,500

By James Durston, CNN
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
A million air miles for the price of a few gift cards? Sign me up!
A million air miles for the price of a few gift cards? Sign me up!
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • German entrepreneur says he is 150,000 miles into a 1 million air mile target
  • Scheme involves buying gift cards with air mile-linked credit cards, and immediately liquidating the cash
  • Only researched for United States so far, but is good for first class flights on various airlines

(CNN) -- A German entrepreneur claims to have found a way to buy 1 million air miles for as little as $6,500.

Those air miles could translate into two first or business class trips on Etihad Airways from the United States to the Maldives, or up to five return first class trips to Asia on Singapore Airlines.

Best part: he says anyone could do the same.

The scheme, hatched by Torsten Jacobi, principal owner of Bluusun Media which runs travel deals website mightytravels.com, involves applying for credit cards that offer generous sign-up and spending bonuses and then buying gift cards with the credit cards, which you immediately liquidate back into cash.

As long as you pay off your credit cards in full each month, that amounts to thousands of air miles for the price of the gift and credit card fees, which in his scheme amount to around $6,500 over the course of a year.

MORE: Frequent flier miles: Cult of the obsessed

Cards for miles

"It requires just two credit cards that most people will be easily eligible for and a couple of minutes of your time every day for a 12-month period," he told CNN.

By using the Citibank Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard and the American Express Gold Card, which offer generous sign-up bonuses and redemption benefits, and using them to buy $1,500-worth of gift cards each day, Jacobi says he is already 150,000 miles toward his goal of 1 million air miles.

Torsten Jacobi hopes to earn 1 million air miles within a year.
Torsten Jacobi hopes to earn 1 million air miles within a year.

He has only researched the scheme in the United States so far, and you may need to register for an online payment system such as EvolveMoney.

But if you've got the time, this could be a cheap ticket to a first class flight across the world, he says.

"If you manage to buy an average of $1,500 of gift cards every day and use Citibank and Evolve Money to liquidate your gift cards, three gift cards per day [for a year] equals $6,186.75 in fees, plus a $250 partial credit card fee.

"Miles earned: 765,000 American Express Membership Rewards points and 182,500 AAdvantage miles. Since both credit cards have a sign-up bonus, you'll actually earn a total of 282,500 AAdvantage miles and 790,000 American Express points."

MORE: The best ways to earn and burn frequent flier miles

So what's the catch?

"It's 100% legal. However stores could stop selling gift cards with a credit card. That has happened, but it's very easy to find supermarkets/gas stations who are allowing that volume of sales per day; $1,500 is small -- I have done up to $5,000 per store several days in a row."

Jacobi even has preferred routes to get the most of his air miles once they're earned.

"[My] recommendation would be to use the AAdvantage miles for a trip for two to the Maldives or Sri Lanka with Etihad Airways or Cathay Pacific First Class. For both airlines the surcharges/fees are minimal.

"As for Membership Rewards, the most luxurious option is Singapore Airlines' [frequent flyer program] KrisFlyer to Hong Kong. This can be had for around 150,000 one-way when redeemed online.

"American Express Membership Rewards transfer instantly to KrisFlyer. Taxes and fees come to about $250 per round-trip ticket."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 16, 2014 -- Updated 2326 GMT (0726 HKT)
Take a trip to the Chinese town that has more relics than people.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
You know about reggae and Usain Bolt -- but you probably aren't aware of these other Jamaican superlatives.
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Artist creates brilliant tribute to Dutch impressionist painter -- a cycle route that glows in the dark
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 0633 GMT (1433 HKT)
European airlines beware: These 320kph trains are upping the travel game with roomy seats and onboard wi-fi.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1053 GMT (1853 HKT)
For such a relatively small collection of islands, the UK packs in an phenomenal range of beautiful scenery.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
Animals run behind the Rovos Rail train's observation balcony in Africa.
Rovos Rail's epic trips out of South Africa pamper passengers with fine dining, vintage comfort and even a bathtub.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT)
Nasir al-mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran
Self-taught Iranian photographer gains rare access to shoot religious buildings as they've never been seen.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
The subject of erotica has a way of making people uncomfortable.
November 7, 2014 -- Updated 0037 GMT (0837 HKT)
A
UK's Heathrow Airport pairs destinations with fragrances to evoke long distance travel. We do too.
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
Bumper cars, a freefall simulator and robot bartenders are just a few of the cool features on Royal Caribbean's new Quantum of the Seas.
November 2, 2014 -- Updated 2258 GMT (0658 HKT)
Up in the mountains and across deep chasms, these bridges are both spectacular and terrifying.
ADVERTISEMENT