Thank you Ariel Cooke for this fabulous tip. Ariel is a librarian, so you can be sure she’s done the research.
“Freakin’ Flyer Miles. That’s what we call them in our family because my daughter was so young when we started collecting them that she couldn’t pronounce “frequent.” She is now 11. Last year she and I went to London and Amsterdam for spring break solely on those freakin’ miles. We have also traveled to Chicago and Kentucky, where my mother-in-law lives. We are currently saving up for a family trip to Beijing.
Here’s how I do it. I’m a Continental One-Pass gal because their hub is Newark. Once you arrange to have your bank account linked to your One-Pass account and pay a $50 annual fee per card, Chase debit cards net you 1 mile for every 2 dollars–as long as you process the payment as a credit card payment. (There are also various credit cards out there that let you earn 2 miles for every dollar, as well.) I pay as many monthly bills as possible on my card. I use it to pay for almost everything, which also provides me with records. I also get a mile for every 2 dollars I spend at ShopRite.
But the real FF bonanzas come from shopping online through the Continental website. If you access their preferred vendors through the website, you can sometimes earn up to 20 miles per dollar. They compete to offer more miles, especially around Christmas. The vendors are great and they keep expanding all the time. Recently, Pottery Barn got on the bandwagon and I was psyched. The ones I probably use the most are Barnes and Noble, Target, Apple, Best Buy, Sephora and Staples, where I also have a rewards card. In fact, before I buy anything online, I always see if there’s a vendor for it on Continental.com. For years I bought all my nieces and nephews gift cards from Barnes and Noble via Continental for Hannukah, when their 10 miles per dollar deal was going strong. Our biggest Continental coup was probably the iMac from Apple a year ago. It was just under 2 grand and they had a 20 miles per dollar deal going. You do the math. Ka-ching.
The drawback is shipping. With a few sites like Best Buy, they will let you order the item online and arrange to pick it up in-store and B&N has free shipping for orders over $25. And you have to plan. This is not for the free spirited shopper who wants to go somewhere and buy stuff on impulse.
But hey–who cares when you can be a free spirit on a plane to China instead?”
Love it! And just to further highlight the value of freakin’ flyer miles/credit card points, we have a dining room table, and wonderful memories of a trip to St. Lucia (picture on left), thanks to purchases of gas, groceries, medicine, etc.