Taking the Airline Miles Game to Another Level

Gary Leff writes for an addiction and recovery site called the Fix about his obsession with earning free airline miles. “I spend almost all of my waking hours thinking about frequent flyer programs.” Whether this is an actual addiction, and whether it’s offensive to be publishing this story on a site dedicated to discussing addiction is certainly up for debate, but the lengths this man has gone to to get free airline miles are truly astounding:

Until recently you could buy dollar coins from the US mint and pay with a credit card. They offered free shipping. In other words, you could put money on your credit card, and the purchases would earn you miles. The money would get delivered to you, and you could take it to the bank and use the funds in your account to pay off the credit card. The transaction cost you nothing but your time online and going to the bank (as well as explaining to the bank teller what you were doing with all those boxes of dollar coins, and enduring strange stares from your neighbors and other bank customers). And you could earn all the miles you wanted. Some people did over $2 million worth.

I’m not ready to admit this publicly, but I might even have ‘used’ a microlending charity to earn miles. I’d buy gift cards at an office supply store, using a credit card that earns 5 miles per dollar there. And I would use the gift cards to make charitable loans. Those loans get paid back, I might even withdraw the money… use it to buy gift cards for the miles, and start the cycle over again. I tell myself I’m doing good in the world, but the truth is that I’m just thinking about my miles.

That isn’t even the craziest part. The craziest part involves a friend of his hiring disabled Thai rice farmers to fly five round-trips a day for him within Thailand, at $8 a flight. (The DEA got involved.)

I guess that’s what they call commitment to a bit.



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