There is absolutely nothing better than flying in First Class with someone you really care about. It is such an amazing experience that one can’t truly understand without seeing it for themselves.

This plan is without a doubt, the fastest way you can earn hundreds of thousands of points. These points will be enough for you to fly anywhere you want in the world in First Class.

It’s going to take some convincing to get the other person on board with all this, but trust me, it’s worth it.

It’s also going to cost you a fair amount of money out of pocket. To put things into perspective, you’re going to spend roughly $1,400 to get a pair of tickets that easily sell for $16,000 for a couple.

Step 1: Do both of you have your credit in order?

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Both your scores should be solid. I typically find that one person in a relationship is more on top of finances than the other. However, in this case, it really pays for the two of you to do it together. For an indepth refresher, take a look at this article on how to understand your credit score.

I recommend that you both signup for:

Borrowell_logo_

Borrowell

Borrowell will provide you with your TransUnion information

credit_karma

Credit Karma

Credit Karma will provide you with your Equifax information.

Review your reports to ensure that you recognize each and every account. If you see something you don’t recognize, be sure to investigate!

Step 2: Sign up for the major loyalty programs

Estimated time: 25 minutes

There are a plethora of loyalty programs each with their nuances! You’ll both need individual accounts so sign up for each of these if you don’t already have the accounts. The reason I suggest not pooling your accounts is because of the flexibility it provides. For example, if both of you pay for flights and need to credit miles, you can’t credit it to a single account.

I strongly recommend one of the following programs to keep your logins and passwords safe:

Step 3: Signup for cards

There is a very specific order of operations so please pay close attention! I’ve included approximate timelines as well. I recommend that you stick to these timelines as they will generally give you the required results.

Day 1: You

The first card that you will sign up for is the American Express Small Business Platinum card. It costs you $499 and will give you a signup bonus of 75,000 points. More importantly, it includes a referral program where each person you refer to a card will receive 25,000 points (see the update section below).

The offer on the American Express website is only for 40,000 points so you’ll need a referral link to get the 75,000 point signup bonus.

When signing up for this card, the application form will ask you about your business. Typically, people will enter their names as their business name. You do not need to have a registered business. If you tutor on the side or provide consulting services (even as a startup with no revenues), then you have what could be considered a business.

Get the 75,000 bonus now!

Day 10: You

When you receive your card, activate it and begin working towards your minimum spend of $5,000.  

At this point, you will have 75,000 points.

Day 10 + X: You and Person 2

Once you are comfortable that you can make your minimum spend, use the refer a friend feature on the Amex website to refer Person 2 to their own Platinum small business card.

They’ll then need to make the $5,000 minimum spend.

You’ll receive an additional 25,000 points for the referral and person two will receive 75,000 points for their signup bonus.

3 months later: You and Person 2

You’ll each refer each other to the business gold and personal platinum cards.

This will provide each of you with 50,000 points each (2 referrals x 25,000) and signup bonuses of 40,000 points and 60,000 points for the business gold and personal platinum cards respectively.

Each platinum card has an annual fee of $700, but it also comes with a travel credit of $200 per calendar year. This means that you can double dip the credit which reduces your effective annual fee to $300.

3 months later: Complete minimum spends

Once you complete your minimum spends, you’ll each have hundreds of thousands of points that can be used for First Class flights anywhere you’d like in the world!

To recap, each of you will sign up for three credit cards each:

You’ll each pay $799 in net annual fees.

  • $499 for the business platinum
  • $300 for the personal platinum after taking advantage of the travel credits

You’ll earn a total of 475,000* (See update section below) points under a year.

  • 125,000 points through 5 referrals of 25,000 each
  • 150,000 points through the business platinum signups
  • 120,000 points through the personal platinum signups
  • 80,000 points through the business gold signups

Analysis

Plan design

Designing plans is tricky. Some people want to get as many points as possible for free. Others want as many points as possible with no consideration to cost.

This plan is somewhere in the middle. On a point per card and per dollar basis, this is the most efficient plan by far. 

If you’d like to earn even MORE points, take a look at the section below for other cards I’d recommend considering.

Downsides

The one downside of this plan are the high minimum spends. In total, you’ll need to spend $26,000 to make the minimum spends for the cards.

A couple of things you can do to help make those spends:

    • Time your applications around major expenses like car insurance. In many provinces, this can run $1,000 or more.
    • Prepay expenses that you know you will need to spend (e.g. phone bills, internet bills, hydro).
    • Buy gift cards to places that you normally shop at that don’t take Amex.

Other cards

Should you feel comfortable applying for more cards, I’d consider the following cards as good supplements to boost your points earnings. For other cards, take a look at my list of the best credit card offers. It’s constantly updated with the best offers on the market.

CIBC Aerogold card

This card comes with a 15,000 signup bonus and the first year fees are waived if you negotiate (aka ask nicely) in branch or on the phone.

SPG Personal card

This card comes with a 20,000 signup bonus which converts into 25,000 aeroplan points. It also converts into most other major airline programs at the same ratio.

SPG Business card

This card comes with a 20,000 signup bonus which converts into 25,000 aeroplan points. It also converts into most other major airline programs at the same ratio.

Conclusion

This plan isn’t for everyone, but if you can make the minimum spends, it is by far the fastest way to get a first class trip anywhere in the world. Even if you redeemed the points at face value (which would be crazy and not recommended!), that’s like spending $1,400 to earn $4,750!

Updates

On February 16th, American Express increased the annual fee from $399 a year to $499 a year for the Business Platinum card. Despite this, I continue to recommend it because of the rich 25k referral bonus.

At this time, language appeared on the referral pages that indicate the referral bonus is likely to change by March 21, 2018.

That referral bonus is likely to change to 15,000 points. 10,000 points may be a possibility as well.

The business platinum card generally arrived quickly so chances are high that you will be able to squeeze in the first round of referrals. My compressed timeline might look something like this:

Day 1: Apply for business platinum

Day that it arrives: Refer to both the business platinum and the business gold.

Day that the second business platinum card arrives: Refer to the business gold.

The thinking here is that even if you don’t hit the business gold spend, you will still receive a 25k referral bonus for the successful application.

If you follow the original plan as written, you will likely net a total of 435,000 points:

  • 25,000 points through a successful referral to the business platinum
  • 60,000 points through 4 referrals of 15,000 each (assuming the drop)
  • 150,000 points through the business platinum signups
  • 120,000 points through the personal platinum signups
  • 80,000 points through the business gold signups

I will continue to update this plan as we see more developments from American Express.

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