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San Francisco to Beijing For $33.79

2011 May 18
Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square, Summer 2009.

I’ve written a couple of posts about airline mile credit card bonuses and thanks to a couple that I signed up for, I’m flying round-trip this Saturday from SFO to Beijing for $33.79.

This will now be my third international flight that I’ve flown for close to free (taxes/fees) thanks to miles.

Usually when I tell family/friends about it, they seem bewildered and confused as to how it’s actually possible to get these bonuses. But in reality, it’s not that hard at all. I started getting into all of this stuff last summer and since then, I’ve racked up enough bonus miles for these flights and still have a ton leftover.

A breakdown of how I got the last three flights on miles:

  • Honduras – Cost: 35k Continental miles. I had 10k leftover from my South America trip so I signed up for a 25k miles Continental Chase card and used all of those points.
  • Guatemala – Cost: 70k AA miles. I booked this last minute so it was quite expensive but I used a portion of the 150k miles I got from two AA credit card bonuses.
  • Beijing – Cost: 65k Continental miles. Although quite a bit more expensive than flying to Central America, I was able to get enough points thanks to a targeted American Express offer (50k miles after $500 spend) and another Continental Chase card, this time 50k bonus miles.

To be fair, I’ve had a relatively long credit history (~6 years) and have always been actively expanding my credit limit. But it really isn’t as hard or complicated as some people make it out to be. In all, the five credit cards funded three international trips and left me with enough miles to go on a couple more.

I always say that there are three limiting factors to traveling: time, money and health. Racking up the free miles is a surefire way to take care of one of them.

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