My math challenge for y’all regarding Delta’s 100% transfer bonus…

My gosh, after coming back from a 2+ week vacation (the longest I’ve ever taken), I’m basically braindead. I’m a numbers guy, but for the life of me my logic is utterly failing me, even when I have a pen and paper in front of me.

Just yesterday I posted about how I plan on taking advantage of Delta’s 100% mileage transfer bonus, essentially creating an opportunity to earn Delta miles at around 1.1 cents each.

Delta miles are funny. On one hand they’re the least valuable mileage currency, but on the other hand they’re often the best positioned for the most difficult award redemptions. V Australia business class to Australia is only 150,000 Delta SkyMiles, and they have excellent availability. Air Tahiti Nui or Air France business class to Tahiti is also 150,000 Delta SkyMiles. Air France business class to Mauritius, which I’ve been tempted to visit for a long time, is only 120,000 miles. And even a ride in business class on the Korean Air A380 to Asia is 120,000 miles. Or I can redeem a roundtrip coach ticket from Tampa to Atlanta on Delta for only 236,000 SkyMiles. šŸ˜‰

So while Star Alliance miles and OneWorld miles are generally much more valuable, Delta miles would allow me to have several new experiences that I couldn’t really have through Star Alliance or OneWorld.

The other funny thing is that I actually have faith in Delta SkyMiles. The general advice is to never buy miles without a specific redemption in mind, and I usually totally agree with that. That’s why I have a hard time taking advantage of US Airways’ 100% bonus on purchased miles promotionĀ unless I have a redemption planned within the next couple of months. Because US Airways miles are too good to be true, I always have the suspicion in the back of my mind that they’ll double their award chart from one day to the next (maybe that’s extreme, but I wouldn’t put it past them).

Delta miles, not so much, especially after last week’s further devaluation. So perhaps it’s twisted logic, but the miles are already considered to be the least valuable, to the point that I can’t imagine them further devaluing miles substantially. I suppose there’s comfort in being the worst.

With that in mind, I do plan on taking advantage of this promotion, and I’m looking for a math whiz to help me out here. Usually I’m sharp with numbers, though my brain still hasn’t recovered from my trip (the only phrase constantly going through my mind is “how is my pressure?”).

Through Delta’s 100% transfer bonus promotion you pay one cent per mile transferred, plus a $30 transaction fee for every chunk of 30,000 miles transferred. What I found out from the comments section on yesterday’s post is that you can actually transfer miles to multiple accounts under the same transaction fee. In other words, if I have 30,000 miles to transfer, I can transfer 30,000 miles to a single different account and pay $330 (one cent per mile plus the $30 transaction fee), or transfer 10,000 miles to three different accounts and still pay the same.

As of yesterday my plan was as follows, given three accounts with 25,000 miles, 43,000 miles, and 133,000 miles:

Therefore my plan would be to transfer 25,000 miles to the account with 43,000 miles, at a cost of $280 (one cent per mile plus the $30 transaction fee). Then there would be 93,000 miles in the account (43,000 miles that were in there, plus the 25,000 miles transferred, plus the 25,000 mile bonus). Then I would plan on transferring 90,000 of those miles at a cost of $990 to the account with 133,000 miles in it.

I would then have 313,000 miles in the account (133,000 miles that were in there, plus the 90,000 miles transferred, plus the 90,000 mile bonus).

My total out of pocket would be $1,270, and I would gain 115,000 miles. In and of itself thatā€™s not a bad deal, though more importantly my miles would be better positioned for redemptions. Instead of having miles in three different accounts, I would have over 300,000 miles in a single account, more than enough for two business class tickets to Australia on V Australia (or to a ton of other destinations)

Of course at the time I hadn’t factored in that I could transfer miles to multiple accounts in a single transaction.

With that in mind, I actually have four accounts. One with 4,000 miles, one with 25,000 miles, one with 43,000 miles, and one with 133,000 miles. I’m looking to get as many miles as possible into the largest account, though am trying to figure out how best to maximize it. Obviously the way to do that would be to constantly transfer as close to 30,000 miles per transaction as possible, since the cost that varies is the $30 per 30,000 mile transaction fee, while the cent per mile transfer fee is constant.

With each transfer the miles get doubled.

So economists and mathematicians, how do I maximize the value of these transfers? I’ve literally sat here with a pen and paper for 30 minutes, though I’m going nuts. I don’t mind transferring back and forth multiple times, and I’m even wondering if using that 4,000 mile account would add any value.

So can anyone beat the deal in the quoted area above?

The winner gets the title of One Mile at a Time Math Whiz (don’t try it as a pick up line, trust me).

Comments

  1. I missed the double transfer option in your last post, so I want to make sure I understand this.

    If I move 30K AMEX rewards points to Delta, I get 60K miles for $330.

    Then I can move those 60K to my wife’s account for $660 and those become 120K miles?

    Then, in theory, I could move them back to my account for another $1,320 to get to 240K. Thus, buying 240,000 miles for $2,310, or just around 1 cent per mile.

    And I have enough for those two business class tickets to Mauritius, which has also fascinated me. Those tickets are $19,000 on the Air France web site for June 2012.

    Am I missing something?

  2. @ STLSpidey — If you’re thinking of moving miles from American Express Membership Rewards there’s actually a 50% transfer bonus, so 30,000 Membership Rewards points would get you 45,000 Delta SkyMiles. Then you can start transferring them around accounts as you outline.

  3. Yours is probably the best, another option:

    1) Transfer 13,000 to the account with 4,000 yielding 30,000 miles and transfer 17,000 with 25,000 yielding 59,000. I would transfer out of 43 account leaving 13. Costs $330.

    2) Perform 1 transfer from the orignial 4,000 account (30,000) miles and perform 2 transfers (30,000 and 29,000) from the original 25,000 account to the account with 133. This would yield 311,000 miles. And leaves you with one other account with 13,000. Cost $980.

    So remaining miles are 324,000 for total cost of $1310. In your example, you would have 316,000 miles total for $1270. Are 8,000 skypesos worth the extra $50 in cost IYO ?

  4. Just to follow up one more time – the number of transfers is unlimited between accounts and the same account can be used multiple times?

    If that’s the case, I don’t need the Membership Rewards, because I’ve already got 200K+ in my Delta account.

    And – I’ve potentially got my own math problem, as my son has 13K miles in his account and my wife has some in hers. Sounds like the potential for a wasted Sunday afternoon.

  5. @ Derek — Thanks! Extra 8,000 miles is totally worth $50!

    @ STLSpidey — You should be able to, the only limit is that you can transfer a maximum of 150,000 miles FROM an account per year, and transfer a maximum of 300,000 TO an account per year.

  6. Ben, there is actually no way to “maximize” your miles, unless I’m missing something. That is, you could keep transfering miles ad infinitum for approximately 1.1 cent per mile.

    So what do you actually mean by maximizing your miles—the cheapest way to get 300k points in one account? Or the cheapest way to get 450k in one account, etc?

  7. @ Emil — I’m referring to trying to use miles in increments so the $30 per 30,000 mile transaction fee is maximized. In other words, if I transfer 4,000 miles from one account to the other I pay $70, which is 1.75 cents per mile. If I transfer 30,000 miles from one account to another I pay $330, which is 1.1 cents per mile. Make sense? The goal is to use those transfer fees to make the most of the miles I have in my accounts, be it 300,000 miles in one account or 350,000 miles in one account.

  8. Here is an option I came up with to end with 433K in one account (unless I messed something up with the transfer rules).

    Define accts as follows: Acct A has 4K miles, Acct B has 25K miles, Acct C has 43K miles, Acct D has 133K miles.

    Transfer 1: Cost $330
    C transfers 30,000, 2,500 to B and 27,500 to A.
    New Balances: A: 59K, B: 30K, C: 13K, D: 133K

    Transfer 2: Cost $330
    B transfers 30,000, 500 to A and 29,500 to C
    New Balances: A: 60K, B: 0K, C: 72K, D: 133K.

    Transfer 3: Cost $660
    A transfers 60,000, 18,000 to B and 42,000 to D
    New Balances: A: 0k, B: 0k, C: 108K, D: 217K.

    Transfer 4: Cost $1200
    C transfers 108,000 to D.
    New Balances: A: 0k, B: 0k, C: 0k, D: 433k.

    Total costs: 2520
    Total Miles ā€œcreatedā€: 228,000
    Cost: 1.1 cts/mile

    Rules: No more than 150K out, no more than 300K in per acct.
    Out/In per acct: A: 56K/60K, B: 5K/30K, C: 95K/138K, D: 300K/0K.

  9. Here’s a different thought, what’s the minimum spend to get to a usable (300k) balance?

    Accounts starting balances:
    A 4k
    B 25k
    C 43k
    D 133k

    Transfer 13k B->A
    Transfer 5.25k B->C
    Transfer 30k A->D
    Transfer 53.5k C->D

    $4*30+101.75*10 = $1137.5 spent and yields 300k in D and 5.75k in B.

    Why pay $150+ more (Derek’s solution) for 24k more SkyPesos that you have no plan to use?

  10. This was a fun project for a math teacher on summer vacation. I got 325,000 all in one account for $1320.

    1) From the 43,000 account, transfer 13,000 to the 4000, 2,500 to the 25,000 and 14,500 to the 133,000.

    That will bring the 4,000 and 25,000 to 30,000 (+26,000, +5,000), leave 13,000 in the original 43,000 and bring your big account up to 162,000 (+29,000).

    2) From either 30,000 account move 8,500 to the 13,000 and the remaining 21,500 to the big account.

    The 13,000 account will now be 30,000 (+17,000). You have one other 30,000 account and now 205,000 in the big account (+43,000)

    3) Transfer both 30,000 account to your big account. That’ll add 120,000 to the 205,000 making 325,000 miles in one account for the minimum transaction fee of 1.1 cents/mile.

    I hope you enjoy using the miles as much as I enjoyed the math šŸ™‚

  11. Ugh, now I see the multiple of 1k transfer rules.

    Transfer 13k B->A
    Transfer 6k B->C
    Transfer 30k A->D
    Transfer 54k C->D

    $4*30+103*10 = $1150 spent and yields:
    A 0k
    B 6k (should be 6.75k in the above post)
    C 1k
    D 301k

    But the point stands: Why pay $150+ more (Derekā€™s solution) for 23k more SkyPesos that you have no plan to use?

  12. Where in the T&Cs does it say $30 fee/30000 miles? I just see $30 fee for each transfer, with a limit of 150K in and 300K out.

  13. Something else for you to check on and perhaps add to the challenge. I believe the transfer fee is actually $30 per transaction, not per transfer, and that a transaction can be > 30k miles, but each transfer is 30k max. I tried a dummy booking with three 30k transfers in one transaction, and it looked like it would let me do it for just one $30 fee, although I didn’t try to complete the transaction.

    Plus, it looks like you might be able to two (or more) transfers to the same account in the same transaction. The T&Cs do say 30k max per transaction per recipient but it looks as if you could just specify the same recipient twice. So perhaps you could further minimize the fees paid. I did not try this out, but wish that someone would.

    So if the above is correct, how would you minimize the transaction fees?

  14. Wow, you guys are brilliant!

    @ Steve A — You’re absolutely correct. With that in mind, can anyone else do better? So basically what Steve is saying is that you can transfer multiple increments of 30,000 miles to different accounts and pay only one transaction fee. That’s to say that for the 43,000 mile account you could transfer 30,000 miles to one account and 13,000 miles to a different account, and just pay a $30 transaction fee. You just can’t transfer multiple increments of 30,000 miles to the same account and get away with avoiding the transaction fee.

  15. So I guess the question is why dont I create an infinite number of accounts and follow the rules to create as many miles as possible? Seems to me the only downside is Delta calls and say “we have shut down all your accounts and refunded your money.”

  16. @ Stephen — The only downside is that it’s costing you a cent a mile, and not everyone values Delta miles that much.

  17. Reading all this leads me to another, perhaps obvious question –

    I can create multiple Skymiles accounts with my same name, address, and email address?

  18. @ STLSpidey — Typically you’ll need to vary some part of it, be it your address or email address. But you can always make SkyMiles accounts for your pets, trees, etc.

  19. Awesome.

    FWIW – my dog’s name is Lucky. He’s a cockapoo.

    But I can envision the following new accounts: Maple Tree, Blue Spruce, Honda Odyssey, Honda CRV, and Mac Powerbook.

  20. Lucky/Ben, thanks for the brain teaser blog post, plus it reminded me to transfer at least 30K of my wife’s Delta miles to my D medallion account to max future traveling opportunities.

  21. Ben, before you do any of this you may want to check the taxes/YQ on VA using DL miles. I just called in and priced out LAX-MEL//SYD-LAX and the taxes/YQ were $633 per ticket.

  22. @ Gabe — Ouch, that sucks! I guess I’d be using my miles for Mauritius or Asia, then. I knew they had YQs, but they used to be reasonable. While $2,300 ($1,650 for 150,000 miles plus $633 YQ) isn’t a half bad deal for business class to Australia, you can do a bit better through US Airways. Then again, I am very tempted to try V Australia…

  23. When it says you may transfer miles into an account that has EARNED at least one mile since enrolling in skymiles I wonder if a transfer from MR qualifies as earned?

  24. How about this then, for the cheapest way to get to 307 k miles?

    3 transactions, 5 transfers for 1120 USD

    a 4K
    b 25K
    c 43K
    d 133K

    1) 13k from c to a, 3k from c to b, 27k from c to d = 430USD for miles and 30 USD fee = 460 USD

    a 30K
    b 31K
    c 0K
    d 187K

    2) 30k from a to d = 330 USD
    3) 30k from b to d = 330 USD

    a 0K
    b 1K
    c 0K
    d 307K

    Don’t ask me where I work…. =)

  25. Here are two ideas.

    A 4, B 25, C 43, D 133

    C transfer A 12, B 3, D 28
    A 28, B 31, C 0, D 189

    B transfer A 1, D 30
    A 30, B 0, C 0, D 249

    A transfer D 30
    A 0, B 0, C 0, D 309

    Cost: 104,000 * 0.01 + 3 * 30 = $1130
    (For a total gain of 104,000 skypesos, or 1.0865 cents per skypeso)

    ==========================

    A 4, B 25, C 43, D 133

    D transfer C 24, B 18
    A 4, B 60, C 91, D 91

    B transfer C 30, D 30
    A 4, B, 0, C 151, D 151

    Cost: 102,000 * 0.01 + 2 * 30 = $1080
    (For a total gain of 101,000 skypesos, or 1.0693 cents per skypesos)

    I guess which one you like better depends on what awards you’ll need them for. The second one is good for two tickets to Australia, e.g. You could also tweak the first idea to get even more miles into account D, but for that you’ll need 4 transactions rather than 3.

  26. I believe that this is the cheapest option as well as maximizing your miles:

    A=4 B=25 C=43 D=133

    Transfer 1
    ———-
    28 D-A, 18 D-B, 24 D-C
    New Bal: A=60 B=61 C=91 D=63
    Cost=$730

    Transfer 2
    ———-
    60 A-C
    New Bal: A=0 B=61 C=211 D=63
    Cost=$660

    Transfer 3
    ———-
    90 C-B, 120 C-D
    New Bal: A=0 B=241 C=1 D=303
    Cost=$2220

    Summary
    ———-
    Total Miles “Created” = 340K
    Total Cost: $3,610
    Cents/Mile = 1.062

  27. @Emil, I just reviewed your transaction b/c of the Cents/Mile = 1.0865. I notice your model for the second transaction didn’t account for the additional $30 transaction fee since you’re transferring 31,000 miles and there’s a fee per 30,000 miles the additional 1,000 miles will count as a second transaction?

    @Bryce, I just reviewed your transaction b/c of the Cents/Mile = 1.062. I think your model doesn’t account for the $30 transaction fee PER 30K Miles transferred also.

    @Lucky, your first example of what you would do before incorporating the additional fourth account had a Cents/Mile = .01176

    I’m not 100% sure I’m reading the rules correctly, but I take it that each transaction is .01 cents per mile and $30 transaction fee per 30,000 miles transferred. That means if you only transfer 30,000 miles the Cents/Miles = .011

    The only way to “maximize” your points gained is to do four transactions with exactly 30,000 miles each. Start with the 43,000 account and just start topping off the two smaller accounts until you have exactly 30,000 in each. At the end of the fourth transaction you should have exactly 325,000 in one account and the other three balances should be zero.

    Beginning Balance = 205,000 (4+25+43+133)
    Ending Balance = 325,000

    Number of Transfers = 4
    Cost of Transfers = $1,320.00 (120,000 x .01) + (30 x 4)

    Cents/Mile = .011 or ($1320/120,000 Miles)

    Was going to send spreadsheet, but didn’t see a e-mail. Hope that helps.

  28. @ clam — The rules are written in a confusing way, though it’s not a fee of $30 for every 30,000 miles you transfer. Instead it’s a fee of $30 for every transaction. In any transaction you can transfer to multiple accounts, but only a maximum of 30,000 miles per account.

    That’s to say that if I transfer 30,000 miles to a single account, I pay a $30 fee. If I transfer 30,000 miles to the same account three times, I pay the fee three times. But if I transfer 20,000 miles to one account, 20,000 miles to another account, and 20,000 miles to a third account, I still only pay $30.

    So that’s how it’s possible to do better than 1.1 cents per mile.

  29. @ Mitch — While I have no firsthand experience, I see nothing that would prohibit that, assuming you stay within the transfer limits.

  30. There are multiple best answers here. And I think you have to define the goal a little more specifically to narrow it down to one answer. If you are looking to minimize this quotient: (total NEW miles acquired) / (dollar spent), then that is 1.03333333 cents per mile. The way to accomplish that is to just start with your largest account (133k miles) and then transfer 30k miles each to the other 3 accounts for a total of 90k miles acquired for $930. Repeat now with your next largest account, which now has 103k miles (43k originaly plus 60k from the previous round), and transfer 30k each to the other 3 accounts from this account. This also is 90k miles for $930. Repeat with the other accounts until you are satisfied that you have enough total miles to use. The cost will never be higher than 1.0333 cents per mile using this method. And while you may end up with total miles more than you need, you certainly don’t have to worry about any “stranded” miles in each of the 4 accounts because all 4 will have well over 150k miles if you just repeat a few times. So, if you are aiming for lowest new miles cost, this is the solution.

    Incidentally, if you are willing to create a new account, you can lower this even more to 1.025 cents per mile. If you are willing to create 2 new accounts, you can get down to 1.02 cents per mile. And so on and so forth. Infinity new accounts gets you down to 1 cent per mile. I would like to see that topped by the math professors out there šŸ˜€

  31. Also note:

    Yearly Maximums:
    Maximum mileage transferred from a SkyMiles account per year: 150,000
    Maximum mileage deposited to a SkyMiles account per year: 300,000

    DL does NOT shut down accounts for this- that was US Airways in 2009.

    If you like DL miles, this is a great offer to buy up to 300k miles extra in each account.

    Get out the spreadsheets

  32. If you define the goal as, “What is the lowest cost per mile method under which I can achieve a usable distribution of miles in my accounts?” then here is an additional solution. Incidentally, this is the method I would use. I think it’s the most practical because it leaves one account with enough for the 150k award threshold (use for Australia), one with enough for the 120k award threshold (use for trip to Asia you mentioned in your post), and one with enough for the 100k threshold (use for a business class trip to Europe).

    Step 1: transfer 30k each from the account with 133k miles to the other 3. Total cost for this step is $930, and you gain 90k new miles this way. Distribution after this step is: A=64, B=85, C=103, D=43.

    Step 2: transfer 81k miles from account B to the other 3 in this way: 28k miles to A, 24k miles to C, 29k miles to D. Distribution after this step is: A=120, B=4, C=151, D=101. Total cost for this step is $840 and you add 81k new miles.

    Total cost for both steps is $1,770 ($1,710+$60). You acquire 171k new miles. Cost per new mile is 1.0351 cents per mile. More importantly, you have three usable accounts for each of 3 attractive awards, with a bare minimum of orphaned miles.

    I am not a math professor. I am just a janitor who likes to do math problems on the chalkboard until security comes.

  33. I described step 1 a little unclearly. More precisely it should read:

    “Step 1: transfer 90k from the account with 133k miles by sending 30k to each of the other 3 accounts. . .

  34. What is the best way to take advantage of this deal if I and a family member (who hardly flies and has no interest in the miles) each have an account with less than 2,000 miles in each? Would I buy miles for their account @ 1.88 cents and then transfer those to mine @ 1.1 cents.

    How does the maximum work? If I understand correctly, I can only end up with a maximum of 120,000 in my account in each calendar year through all purchase, all transfer or a combination of both? If I purchase 30,000 for my family members account, they end up with 60K, then I transfer the 60K to mine and I end up getting 120,000. So my cost is around $1,128 for the 30K/60K purchase and around $660 for the 60K/120,000K transfer for a total of $1,788. If I can parlay those miles into a trip to Asia on KEā€™s A380 then this would be a good deal? I donā€™t fly Skyteam airlines a lot, mostly *A and a bit of One world.

  35. @ Mike Smith — Do you have a lot of miles in your account? Generally speaking to take full advantage of this deal you’re best off staying away from outright buying miles. You may be best off leaving the accounts with 2,000 miles in them alone, since you still pay a $30 transaction fee, regardless of how small the account is, which substantially raises the cost of such a transfer.

    The maximum number that can be transferred does NOT factor in the bonus.

    If you had 60,000 miles in your account, for example, you might be best off transferring 30,000 miles to each of two other accounts for $630. Then those two accounts would have 60,000 miles each. Then if you transferred back those 60,000 miles from each account at a cost of $660, you would have 240,000 miles in your account.

    I’m sure there are more creative people here than me (as shown above), though that’s the general idea.

    Let us know how many miles you have in your account, and I’m sure people can help you out here!

  36. On an unrelated note, does anyone know if mileage transfer through Delta are run directly through them by the credit card companies, for three Membership Rewards points per dollar on the Premier Rewards Gold card, or is the transaction facilitated by points.com, like with US Airways?

  37. @ bluto — You’re totally right, I wasn’t at all clear in my goal, mostly because I was totally open to different ideas. I guess the general goal was to get somewhere between roughly 300,000 and 350,000 miles in a single account while minimizing the cent per mile. But it looks like most of the ideas above do a pretty good job of covering that.

  38. I have 64K in one account and 10 miles in a second account.

    Questions:

    1) If I create a new account — I have to wait 12 days to transfer miles into it, correct?

    2) Then I send 30K into account with 10 miles and 30K into NEW account and I spend $630. Then I spend $660 to send those miles back into my account so I have 240K miles, correct?

    3) If I wanted to end up exactly with 200K miles, what’s the best course of action?

    Thanks

  39. Given that I understand the rules correctly and that youā€™d like to spend as little as possible but get all the miles in one account, hereā€™s what Iā€™d do:
    Start – A:4000, B:25000, C:43000, D:133,000
    First transaction:
    Move 4000 from A to D.
    Move 5000 from B to D.
    Move 5000 from C to B.
    Move 8000 from C to D.
    Cost: $250
    New totals ā€“ A:0, B:30000, C:30000, D: 167000
    Second transaction:
    Move 30000 from B to D.
    Cost: $330
    New totals ā€“ A:0, B:0, C:30000, D: 227000
    Third transaction:
    Move 30000 from C to D.
    Cost: $330
    New totals ā€“ A:0, B:0, C:0, D: 287000
    Total cost: $910 for ~1.11 cents/mile
    It’s not the best cents/mile option, but it costs the least amount I can figure to consolidate all your miles.

  40. @lucky — The transfer fee is charged directly by Delta, so I’m sure that it’ll get 3 pts/1$ on the Amex PRG card. Actually, it has a ticket # and Date of Departure (12/31). The Document Type is MISC. CHARGE ORDER (MCO)/PREPAID TICKET AUTH.

  41. I’ve done the following:
    1) From B, 7 to A and 18 to C
    2) From A, 18 to C
    3) From C, 115 to D
    Total miles: 363.000
    Miles created: 158.000
    Total cost: 1.760
    Cost per new mile: 1,1139 cents
    Have spreadsheet if you want

  42. My wife has about 8K miles in her account and I have 215K in mine. Few months back I transferred 60K MR points in to my account and got 50% bonus miles. I have about 65K Amex MR points and my wife’s SM account is eligible for the 50% bonus miles and both our SM accounts are eligible for the 40% MR back certificate if the transfer is 50K MR points.

    Is my account eligible for the full 300K deposit or only 210K? What is the best way I can gain the most miles for least cost out of this scenario?

  43. My mind is still boggling over “a 2+ week vacation (the longest Iā€™ve ever taken)”

    All those FF miles and trips, and you’ve never been on a longer vacation than 2 weeks?

    Of course, I guess you don’t get those shiny plastic cards being in jungles or lying on beaches…

  44. @ eponymous_coward — I just graduated college. I’ve never had that much time to take a single trip. Back when I was younger I would travel with my parents, but due to work they could never travel for more than a week or 10 days.

  45. Wow! Lots of different answers optimizing for different things. Definitely shows the value of clearly defining your problem before you try solving it. I like bluto’s method of increasing mile balances or gaining 3 different accounts with reasonable award balances.

    That said, since lucky has since more clearly defined the problem, here’s my solution for “get somewhere between roughly 300,000 and 350,000 miles in a single account while minimizing the cent per mile”

    Transfer 13K D->A, 3K D->B, 9K D->C for $280, leaving A:30K B:31K C:61K D:108K

    Transfer 30K A->D, 30K B->D, 60K C->D for $1320 ($330+$330+$660), leaving A:0K B:1K C:1K D:348K

    145K miles gained for a total cost of $1600 or $.011034/mile.

  46. For the really serious about DL miles,
    Lucky can get 1 account with 693k miles for 5230$, starting with the numbers above and ending with close to zero in 3 accounts.
    You have to copy this table to a spreadsheet to make sense

    New -4 -24 -42 560 490 5230
    Acct A B C D Total Cost
    Final 0 1 1 693 695 5230
    Begin 4 25 43 133 205 0
    tx 26 36 18 -40 40 430
    tx 30 30 -60 60 60 630
    tx 30 -60 30 60 60 630
    tx -60 30 30 60 60 630
    tx 30 30 -60 60 60 630
    tx 30 -60 30 60 60 630
    tx 0 0 -30 60 30 330
    tx 0 -30 0 60 30 330
    tx -30 0 0 60 30 330
    tx -30 0 0 60 30 330
    tx -30 0 0 60 30 330

  47. The value of saying your a math professor, is that you don’t have to think about any of this and you can just assume that he knows what he is doing. The value of reading all this from the top down, is the best mid-day sleep you could ever ask for. I just wonder..you still spend a lot. What are the best deals you have ever seen? Considering you won’t pick up any miles with an award flight, you might as well just buy a cheap fare from priceline!

  48. @ Johnny Mac — The idea is to spend the miles on international first and business class award tickets, which would be very expensive to purchase. Through this promo you could buy 120,000 miles for around $1,300, which is enough for a business class award ticket to Asia. That’s pretty tough to beat!

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