We all know that credit card sign-up bonuses are the easiest way to fly for free. When planning my trip for Italy for next summer, I decided to transfer 60,000 of the 100,000 point sign-up bonus from Chase Sapphire Reserve to United. This would be enough for economy flights back from Milan for my boyfriend and me. There are plenty of deals out there but for some reason, I can be pretty stingy with my points especially valuable ones like Chase Ultimate Rewards points. After discovering the wonderful world of shopping portals and surveys, I decided I’d earn as many United miles as possible until my Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus posted. This way I wouldn’t have to transfer as many Chase points to United.

United MileagePlus account
And the grand total is…33,078 United miles!

What started out innocently enough became an obsession. I was taking surveys at breakfast, lunch, and after work. I had to make a “no surveys during Mad Men” rule to give myself a break and to make it so my boyfriend didn’t think I had a problem. Now that all the survey madness has died down and the tickets are booked, I’m happy to say I’m down to only a few e-Rewards surveys per day. And yes, my quality of life has improved. Joking aside, here’s how I earned over 30,000 United miles in 3 months to get my free flight back from Europe.

1) Earn Miles by Flying

I started off with about 2,000 United miles from flying. These were due to expire in February 2017 so I had to earn points to avoid this. After earning a 1,000 miles (see step 2), I was hooked on accumulating as many United points as possible.

Points total: 1,684

2) Take Advantage of Lucrative Offers

Back in September, there was an offer for 1,000 miles for signing up for a $1 Wall Street Journal subscription. You had to remain an active WSJ subscriber for about a month but could then cancel over the phone. I think this was $1 well spent!

Points total: 2,684

3). United MileagePlus Dining

I signed up for MileagePlus Dining to earn more points. The offer was 2,000 points after making a $25 purchase at a participating restaurant. I had to convince my mom we needed to order pizza from a specific inconveniently located restaurant, but I got my bonus and 77 more miles for the purchase itself.

The sign-up deal varies but you can usually get over 1,000 miles easily with this method.

Points total: 4,761

4). Survey Enrollment Bonuses

I then signed up for e-Milese-Rewards, and Opinion Miles Club for the sign-up offers. Here’s everything you need to know about these survey companies.

You can get 400 bonus miles from e-Miles, 250 bonus miles from e-Rewards, and 300 bonus miles from Opinion Miles Club.

I also got 100 Thanks Again points by enrolling. Honestly, I still don’t get what Thanks Again is but I got another 300 from it at some point.

Points total: 6,111

5) Taking Surveys

Opinion Miles Club surveys
Considering surveys earn about 50 miles apiece, that’s a lot of surveys!

I mentioned my survey obsession earlier and this is how I earned a bulk of the miles. I earned 1,500 from e-Miles, 5,000 from e-Rewards, and 10,391 from Opinion Miles Club for a total of 16,891. This level of survey taking is not sustainable. I recommend doing a few per day so you can slowly build up your miles balance.

Points total: 23,002

6) MileagePlus Shopping

With Christmas around the corner, this was a great reason to take advantage of some of the huge bonuses on the MileagePlus Shopping portal. The best deal I got was 20 miles per dollar at RiteAid and 15 miles per dollar at Saks. This also took advantage of the Chase Freedom quarterly bonus categories (drugstores and department stores) so I earned an additional 5 Chase points per dollar. Since these can be converted to United miles, this was worth a lot of points. Not counting the bonus Chase points, I ended up with 8,234 miles from the MileagePlus Shopping portal.

Points total: 31,236

7) MileagePlus X App

The MileagePlus X app lets you earn miles by shopping at stores and select online retailers. After downloading the app you can see participating stores in your area. Each store offers a certain amount of miles per dollar spent. To get the miles you have to buy a gift card to the store and use it to pay for your purchase.

Here’s how it works:

  • Enter your credit card information into the app before shopping.
  • At the register, wait until you know the total amount of your purchases. Click the correct store, hit “Pay Now”, and enter the exact amount the cashier rings up.
  • This creates a digital gift card that the cashier can scan. That’s it!Breakdown of miles earned

I earned 1,842 using MileagePlus X.

Grand total: 33,078

Final Thoughts

Through a combination of surveys, shopping, and dining, I earned over 30,000 United miles in three months. I only had to transfer 27,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United to complete my booking and get my free flights. By saving 33,000 in Chase Ultimate Reward points I had enough for three hotel nights in Florence booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. My trip to Italy isn’t until June but I’ll be sure to report back!

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