Hypothetical: If You Could Buy Points For Free, Would You Go All Out?

Let’s say, hypothetically, there was an opportunity to generate Ultimate Rewards points through manufactured spend with no fee. Or say that fee was a maximum of $0.70 per 2,500 points. Would you do it? You probably would. I know I would. In fact, I’d do it over and over again to get as many points as possible before the opportunity dried up.

And in my opinion, that’s how you should handle certain deals in the world of points and miles. Sometimes there are opportunities to “go big” because a perfect set of circumstances allows you to earn a ton of miles for little or no cost. The Mint deal is one example, and Vanilla Reloads at Office Depot are another example. Both deals allowed many, many people to fatten their mileage accounts for little actual cost to them. Check out the “just for fun” section of my Bluebird/Ink Award Cost Charts for an idea of how cheap it once was to buy miles.

But while all deals die, these ones died particularly quickly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these opportunities are rare, and you should be ready to take advantage of them while you still can. It’s guaranteed to not last forever, and you know there are some people out there that have no problem trying to earn a million points or more out of it. I’m of the opinion that you should get yours while you can.

Whenever that next deal presents itself, be ready for it…but don’t jump blindly into it – weigh the potential risks. With the Mint and Vanilla Reloads, you were going to be stuck with cash equivalents. That may not always be the case, depending on the deal. Be careful if the deal asks you to risk money for something that can’t easily be traded for cash. Visa and MasterCard gift cards are still close enough to cash equivalents that you’d be able to liquidate them with little or no loss, but merchant gift cards can be more difficult.

So, to summarize, first weigh the risks to you personally, and if you’re fine with it, then go get all you can. Other’s won’t hold back, so why should you?



  1. This is one of those things that you learn once you get more experienced in the points world. I’m going all out. Love FlyerTalk.

  2. Tread carefully. Don’t be stuck with thousands of $ of HIGC. They can shut this down at any time and you’ll be out of thousands of $!!!!

    • How big is “super” big? I know people doing $5K-$10K without much worry. If you normally don’t spend much and suddenly do $20K in a few days, I’d be concerned.

  3. Going big in this case is risky because you never know when you’ll be stuck with many thousands of dollars worth of gift cards that have lost their magic. I’ve done very well with a medium and steady approach. Less chance of credit card company cracking down on you and less chance of getting burned when things changer

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