About

Daraius Dubash has earned and redeemed millions of airline miles and hotel points – most of which he acquired for free and without flying in airplanes or staying in hotels.

Daraius Dubash - Million Miles Secrets

At Restaurant Sant Pau Near Barcelona, Spain.  Daraius & Emily Used Miles to Travel for Free on Swiss Air to Europe

Daraius writes the Million Mile Secrets blog to show time-starved folks how, they too, can acquire airline miles and hotel points, and travel very comfortably to see the world, for a fraction of what they would otherwise pay for such travels.

He believes everyone can use airline and hotel loyalty points to travel for free – whether it is a trip in First Class to Thailand or a family visit to grandma in Florida.

By reading Million Mile Secrets you will learn Daraius’ secrets to fly for much less,  stay in wonderful hotels for much less, and rent cars for much less than retail price.

Daraius has visited over 30 countries in 6 out of 7 continents, and has flown on International First Class (where tickets costs about $20,000 per ticket) to Europe, Asia, and the US, many times for virtually no money.  He uses his expertise and specialized tools to help his blog readers and his family travel and experience the world for less.

Daraius and Emily Saved ~$13,000 on Their Trip to Bora Bora

As a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Daraius roamed the world, as an auditor for a Fortune 500 company, to ensure that rules, regulations, and policies were enforced.  He also prepared many tax returns as a volunteer with the AARP.

Daraius now uses his ability to interpret complicated airline rules and marketing promotions – honed from mastering complex accounting rules – to make the most of airline, hotel, and rental car promotions.

But Daraius believes using your miles and points to travel shouldn’t require a degree in Accounting!  That’s why he started Million Mile Secrets.  Daraius presents the information in a helpful way that anyone can understand.

Million Mile Secrets - Emily & Daraius at Carnival

Million Mile Secrets – Emily & Daraius at Carnival

Busy people don’t have time to study the constantly changing deals, strategies, and requirements.  That’s why Daraius only writes about the best offers and most relevant news, including his easy-to-follow analysis that has earned the trust of over 16,000 loyal readers.

He has worked in the Finance, Auditing & Global Marketing divisions of Fortune 500 companies.  He has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a Master’s in Engineering Management from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University.

News outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, and Business Insider call upon Daraius for his expertise at Big Travel with Small Money.

In his spare time, Daraius loves to plan his future travels and plot how to increase his stash of miles and points (currently over 3 million).  He loves listening to classical music, reading non-fiction (history and biography), eating good ethnic food, and taking long walks.

Emily Jablon, Co-founder & Manager, writes trip reports for the site, edits content, and interacts with readers at industry conferences. She worked as a project manager for a division of General Dynamics, a Fortune 100 company for over three years. Emily has a Bachelor’s of Science from Indiana University and just completed her MBA in March 2014.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

361 Responses to About

  1. bruce glasser

    I want to travel to capetown in september/october using american miles for business class. Any recommendations as to the best routes to take. They all seem unavailable.

  2. @bruce glasser – Your main choice is British Airways, but they charge fuel surcharges.

  3. My husband is a retired CPA and loves doing tax returns for AARP. However, he’s really not interested in this game or learning how to do it. He leaves everything to me! So I do wonder what most of us who love this game really have in common? Most of my friends want me to play for them, but they don’t have any passion for learning. Most think it’s frustrating! My husband loves all the benefits but would never play it himself.

  4. Thanks so much for all you do! Exciting to be starting the points/miles journey. I got in on the SWA cards and am completing the spend on the second card right now. Unfortunately, my wife just started a new job and kind of blew it on her end. She missed the minimum spend on the first card by 74 bucks and applied for the same card twice! I am wondering if she should cancel the card and try to reapply again if those offers come through at a later time? What is the best way to proceed?

    Also, I got some kind of targeted offer in the mail, that still offers the 50K SWA bonus for the premier card and gives me 5K to refer them from Chase. If anybody is interested let me know and I’ll send you the code. Won’t work for my wife though because that is the card she already got!

  5. @Lynn – LOL! I suspect that many folks experience the same thing with their partner!

    @Todd – You could call and ask if they will give you an extension, but I wouldn’t count on it!

  6. @ Daraius What about cancelling her SW premier card with chase in hopes of being able to reapply when/if they offer the 50K again? How long would she have to have it cancelled for to reapply?

  7. Hi Daraius , the Citi American Airlines Executive card looks to be an amazing deal. I purchase alot of things in US Dollars so the no conversion fee is a benefit too. However, I am an Australian resident and therefore, can’t apply for this card as I don’t have a US Social Security number.

    Any suggestions on a a similar card that I can get with the same benefits?

  8. @Mark – Unfortunately, I don’t have suggestions for the Australian credit card market.

  9. Hi, thanks for your blog! It’s amazing. I have over 50k American airline miles, I would like to go to Japan in Nov but make a quick stop in Barcelona. I live in Fl. IS that possible? What do U think and what’s the best way to do it so I can find segments. Thank you.

  10. Hi, thanks for all the info! I am trying desperately to get at least 2 award seats to Dublin from JFK on American in December into January and avoid fuel surcharges. Had American dumped all their own award flights? I can only find BA. Is there a way to get around the BA fuel surcharges? I really can’t afford to redeem the miles and spend more than $175 per ticket on taxes and fees. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks

  11. @marsy – You won’t be able to have a stopover (unless you pay more miles). It is 60K for a round trip in coach to Europe.

    @Jennifer – You could set a seat alert on ExpertFlyer to let you know when flights on American Airlines open up.

  12. Daraius,
    Can you tell or do you know if chase will approve 50 k bonus miles twice on mileage explorer card? I had the older version of explorer card for which I got 50k bonus in 2010. Chase upgraded the old card to the current mileage explorer card which I cancelled in 2011. Today I logged in to my united airlines acct and found the 50 k offer for the mileage plus card. I’m curious to know if you have seen or heard from readers getting chase bonus twice.

    Thanks,
    Dev

  13. @Dev – It may be possible if it is a different version of the card.

  14. Hi, do you provide the names of the companies that provide affiliate payments for credit cards? I was looking to include some links to credit card companies on my blog. Thanks.

  15. @JC – The offers keep changing, so I don’t list every specific affiliate offer.

  16. Hey Darious, quick question.
    I want to use British Avios for redemption on American Airlines short haul trips for 4500 avios when the trip is <650miles. The distance between my city and my destination is 29 miles over (679 miles). Besides finding airports that are surrounding to the cities I want to travel to/from, is there any way I can still do this?

  17. @Pete Moss – You can check the miles required, since sometimes it lets you go a bit over. But there isn’t a way to get it to price lower if it doesn’t price lower online.

  18. Barbara Ann Symingon

    Do you have a contact name and number for Delta? I have over 200,000 Skymiles earned and I was unsuccessful in utilizing them without spending $ 1800 on a ticket. I need to speak to somebody.

  19. @Barbara Ann Symingon – You could ask an award booking service for help!

  20. Hi there. I know this isn’t exactly your schtick on MMS, but I would like to make a suggestion for a post that I think readers will find very useful. I have been collecting miles for about a year and I’ve been on some wonderful trips (thanks!). I’ve been very responsible at making sure to pay off everything in full, never accruing any interest. A couple months ago, however, I started to realize that because I was paying for LAST month’s charges with my money from the current month, I had essentially gained an extra month of income, OR in other (less fun) terms, gotten a month behind. On one of your interview posts, I learned about YNAB (You Need a Budget) and have started using their software, which I love. On their website I learned about the credit card float (http://www.youneedabudget.com/blog/2013/are-you-riding-the-credit-card-float/). I’m now working to get myself more current with my spending, ie using my cc as a debit card and only charging that which I have the funds in the bank to pay for. If -heaven forbid- we lost a job or something happened and we were a still paying off last month’s spending it could be devastating financially.

    The recent CVS/Bluebird news was a bit of a blow for more reasons than the common ones. Now that I cannot pay my rent with a BB check, it means I have to pay LAST month’s rent AND this month’s rent with my current funds. It’s okay. It won’t kill us and thank goodness we have the money to cover it, but I wish I had known about this concept of the credit card float when I started so I didn’t have to unbury myself now. I don’t know, but I wonder if the YNAB team might give you a kick back for any purchases made from a link you posted. ;)

    Sorry for the long comment. This seems to be the only way to contact you.

  21. Hi Darious,
    I live in Boston but my daughter and I go to BCN every summer to visit my family. Which credit card would be my best option?

  22. Hey Daraius,

    I followed you on and off but now I have a reason (fellow Kellogg alum) to follow you more regularly ;-)

    I got my HH gold thru the citi credit card but might switch to this so I don’t have to pay the annual fee.

    Awesome that you are able to help so many people navigate the FF game. And Congrats on figuring out a way to make this a viable business! You should go back and teach Prof. Rogers entrepreneurship class!

    Cheers,
    Deepak R
    Kellogg ’08

  23. MMS Guru! I love the site.
    Question on cards that have been held for a while. I have an amex that I have had for around 7-8 years, but its high credit limit ($20,000) is holding me back from getting approved from other cards.
    Do you recommend:
    Requesting its limit be reduced to say $3000, to make room for new cards?
    Cancelling the card?
    Other options?
    Thanks again!

  24. My bluebird atm asked for a longer digit pin (7 or 8 spaces) after I entered the 4 digit pin I had registered with my vgc via phone. What could this be?

  25. i have 260,000 Amex points. How would you maximize the value of the point?

  26. Hi Daraius,

    I have a question regarding the bonus for adding an additional card member to a rewards credit card such as Chase Sapphire… Generally, my wife and I each open separate cards/accounts to take advantage of the large sign-on bonuses. Can we still add each other as an additional card member to our own account to receive 5,000 points? So for example, we each signed up for the card separately and each received 40,000 points upon spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. However, can we each get an additional 5,000 points for adding the other person to the card?

    Thanks,
    ST

  27. @Rachel – No worries, and thanks for sharing. I’ll check out the site.

    @ Sandra – I’d consider American Airlines miles because they are partners with Iberia who flies out of Boston. Or United miles.

    @ Deepak – Thanks for your kind words!

    @ Bavikavo – You could ask to transfer the credit to a new card when you apply. If that doesn’t work, you could reduce it a bit (as long as you have available credit on your non-AMEX cards).

    @ Anne – I’ve never seen that before!

    @ Neal – Depends on your goals, but you could transfer to airlines or hotels etc. Or redeem for gift cads or pay with points, if you want a quick (but less lucrative way to cash out).

    @ST – You get the 5,000 extra points only if you sign-up via the new offer.

  28. Hi Daraius,

    Looking for your advice and what you think and what I should do. I am preparing this winter for an AA award FRA-DOH on QR (business class and stopover in DOH) than DOH-AUH. Now for DOH-AUH should I choose QR because of the upcoming new dedicated lounges at HIA or should I choose EY because I believe they give free overnight hotel if your transiting overnight from the Middle East. Then it would be AUH-IAD in F. Now I know this would be 120K AA miles under 2 awards. What do you think of this itinerary in general? I know its not the best mileage value in the world but to fly dreamliner on QR and EY F which is one of the best in the world seems worth it. What are your thoughts?

  29. @Dan – I personally choose flights based on availability and schedule. That said, this does sound like a great combination of flights!

  30. Hello Darius! As of two days ago Walmart stopped accepting any type of gift card as debit card to load onto Bluebird and/or turn into Money Orders. The gift cards automatically get read as a credit card and declined. Do you have any recommendations on how to unload gift cards (like One Vanilla or Vanilla Visa) now that Walmart is no longer an option? Thank you!!

  31. Hi :)

    I have stupid question,

    1. what happen if I apply credit card and doesn’t actuvate until last day of the expiration date, does credit card company still consider me as a cardholder?

    2. If I don’t activate, do my credit card still count as credit card when I apply another credit card? (I mean the system recogniz).

    3. When I transfer my balance from A to B. and B for the new credit card,
    Does B consider A’s balance as the spending?

    Please answer.
    Thank you

    Sincerely

  32. @Nina – They updated their systems and I have a post on that soon.

    @ jeon – A balance transfer usually doesn’t count towards the spending. If you’re approved for the card, you are usually considered a cardholder.

  33. Daraius,

    I have an important & urgent question for you. I am expecting to buy a house in exactly 30 months (2.5 years). I live in an expensive housing market. Right now i have some high CC sign-up bonus offers like Ink 60k, AA 100k, Amex SPG. My question is, should I apply for these cards now or wait until I get the house? I know the general consensus is that you should not apply for CCs at least 1-2 years before getting a mortgage. My FICO scores are in the range of 710-720. Now that you have assistants, I would presume it should not take you long to respond :) Thanks You!

  34. I’m trying to help my parents get the Southwest companion pass. My dad applied for the personal premiere card and was approved right away. He then applied for the business card. After 2 weeks he received a rejection letter. He called the reconsideration, but was still declined. Should he just try to get the $69 personal card or do you think he will get declined for that too?

  35. Hi Daraius, thank you so much for such an informative blog! I am “very” new to this and eager to learn. So I have a question. I fall into the category of great credit and no debt and money to float. I guess I have great credit because when I look up my FICO score under my name it tells me what it is….my problem is I am a SAHM so how do I get credit cards just in my name since I don’t have my own income to list? Also if I can get my own cards which would be the best to start out with? I want to start out slow and not raise red flags that get me turned down for the cards? TIA

  36. @MMS Fan – Credit inquiries fall off in ~2 years, so it could be fine. But do what you’re comfortable with. Getting a house is more important than a few cards.

    @ Nan – He could try for that in a bit.

    @Patty. – See this post. I’d set a travel goal and then apply for cards. The Sapphire Preferred, Barclays Arrival or Southwest post are all good candidates.

  37. can evolve money be used to pay credit card bills

  38. @dave ricci – Not as yet, but it should be coming soon in November.

  39. Daraius, for one-way flights between SFO and Japan, what miles + points should I be collecting? We like to cruise to Japan, then fly business class home to SFO (in the fall), or vice versa in the spring.

    We have benefitted SO much from your writing – thank you!

  40. @Brooke – I’d focus on United miles.

  41. joanna mendoza

    Thank God for your website! We’ve been to a lot of places in 14 years so I wish I knew you sooner!:( What advice do you give to go fly to Bora Bora and stay for free? We are limited to school breaks.

  42. Marcos@Florida

    Hello! Great website!!

    Question…I live in south Florida. What is the best card/miles program to travel to Europe?

    Thanks!

  43. Daraius: Has anyone come up with a replacement program like the AMEX Blue Bird program that allowed members to load a prepaid card and then use checks for payments?

  44. Getting ready to send my oldest off to college with child number 2 ready next year! Any recommendations on credit cards that offer cash back for tuition payments, Daraius? My wife found Capital One Quicksilver at 1.5% unlimited. How do you view this card, please?

  45. Quick question which I hope you can answer. I want to book a flight for someone else on United. It is 20,000 miles for the Saver but she only has 10,000 miles. Can I book one way for her on her account for 10,000 and book the one way back on my account for the ohter 10,000? Just want to make sure as I know United has some funky rules :) Thanks!

  46. @joanna mendoza – That could be tough during school breaks. American Airlines and Delta miles can get you there and IHG and Hilton have hotels over there.

    @Marcos@Florida – Thanks for reading! I’d suggest United miles to avoid the fuel surcharge you’d pay if you were to use American Airlines miles.

    @ Gordon – Not that I’m aware off.

    @ Bruce – The Capital one Spark and Fidelity AMEX offer 2% cash back. And the Barclays Arrival gets ~2.2% if used for travel.

    @ Michael – You sure can!

  47. Hi Daraius,
    First time reader of your blog. My wife and I are planning an Apr/May 2015 trip to Bora Bora. I was excited to see that you guys saved $13K on the trip. Do you/Did you have a post on how you actually managed to do that? We currently have a combination of SPG Points/Hilton HHonors Points and United Miles. Any advice?

  48. Hey! It was great meeting at the DDS and post DO in Monsey. I have started following your blog since. Would you be able to hook me up with your business school email address, so I can get Hilton status? THanks and have a great day.

  49. Hi Daraius,

    First of all I wanted to say how much I appreciate your site and I send all my family here to sign up for the lastest high point offerings available. I’ve thought about a possible business collaboration that we can do and would love to talk about it with you. When you get a chance can you email me so we can discuss. Thanks.

  50. @John – Here our are Trip Reports.

    @ Joey – Nice meeting you too! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work any longer for more than 1 account.

    @Kam – I’ll email you!

  51. Hey! Big fan, I read all the time. I have some questions concerning reconsiderations, building credit, and using some of your ideas to do so. Do you have an email address where I can get in touch?

  52. @Zack – Leave a comment with your question and I’ll get back to you!

  53. Daraius, I wish you’d write instructions for booking an award flight that uses airlines other than United or American or British. I suspect there’s something I’m missing – it’s easy to find United seats in First or Business, but how do I find its foreign partners’ seats? I’ve searched and searched!
    On the other hand, following your many suggestions, I’ve just booked us on a flight home from Tokyo on First Class in United – we’re thrilled! Without the benefit of your advice, we’d be paying big money and sitting in coach.
    Thank you!
    Brooke

  54. @Brooke – Search for my United award booking series (which needs to be updated!). You can also search on United.com and should see foreign partners on the search result page.

  55. Daraius:

    Question: I have miles in several places…Amex 175000, Southwest 400000 plus companion pass, United 230000, Alaska 100000. Would really like to take my wife on a trip of a lifetime internationally included and minimize costs. Any thought? Was thinking of United’s round the world fare, but don’t know how to make this stuff work for me.

    Very much enjoy your blog.

    Thank you

  56. Hi,

    The only credit card affiliate links I can get from FlexOffers.com are for Discover and Barclaycard cards. Are here any options for small blogs to get credit cards links for Capital One, American Express, Chase etc. even if they have less commission?

  57. Hi Daraius,
    Thank you for this wonderful blog! I and my family travel to Karachi every year. In the past I have used CLT-IAD-DOH-KHI route by US Air and Qatar. I have never accumulated miles before, always redeemed points on my Chase Freedom for cashback . So, I signed up and was approved for the Sapphire preferred. However, I did not know that UR are not transferable to AA/US. So, I was trying to find a route (for my travel in May 2015) using *A members. Any suggestion?
    Thanks

  58. Manish Vanjani

    Hey Daraius,
    I was wondering if you can provide the list of credit cards (hotels and airlines) who allows a member to trade in their points/miles to other major airline/hotel reward programs?
    For example: SPG Amex Card which allows to trade in Starpoints to many major airline programs.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Thanks,
    Manish.

  59. Hi, Daraius:

    My husband and I are planning to travel to China in the fall of 2015. What is the best way to upgrade to business class using milages?

    Thanks,
    Helen

  60. I have been subscribed to your blog for years.. recently, I stopped receiving daily emails. I tried to resubscribe but received a message saying that I am already a subscriber. What happened and how can I get you back?

  61. Dear Emily & Daraius:
    Wanted to write you and warmly say thanks for your great blog, site and info. Your tenacity , quality and purpose are greatly appreciated in my household. I have earned more points and $ because of your knowledge you share and my wife and I are very grateful. Follows, a link which I hope is new on a recent gentlemans record breaking points acquisition. Perhaps you can consult? lol http://news.artnet.com/art-world/chinese-collector-uses-amex-to-buy-36-million-chicken-cup-64150?utm_campaign=artnetnews&utm_source=072114daily&utm_medium=email

    If you are in NYC , we would love to host you guys for a drink or meal? please write or call 718-207-5852 , and safe, happy travels!

    Dave Stern & Christina Conway

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