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Reviews of Some Stuff I Bought for the Miles

Recently, I put some flights on a five-day hold for a summer trip, but I was a little short of the American AAdvantage miles I needed to ticket it.

So my challenge was: How can I get 2,000 more miles within five days?

Obviously, I wasn’t going to buy a plane ticket and fly somewhere real quick. That was unlikely to be worth the money or time.

I have an AAdvantage credit card, but you only get miles by charging things when the monthly statement closes, and that wasn’t scheduled to happen within five days.

Fortunately, I know one trick that often results in quick miles:

Buying stuff at the reward program’s online store. I surfed right over to AAdvantage eShopping to see what I could pick up for not too much money and hopefully earn 2,000 miles.

In this situation, the first thing I look for are subscriptions and other things like that, which sometimes offer a big chunk of miles all at once as a sign-up bonus. In the past, I’ve signed up for magazines, newspapers, meal prep kits and wine clubs for the sign-up bonuses. Of course, I always quit these things as soon as I can, and it’s usually not too expensive.

These are the offers I grabbed this time. I ended up receiving 3,738 AAdvantage miles within a day or two of making these purchases, at a total cost of $245. I am still hoping for another 1,200 miles. That means I paid about 6.5 cents for every mile I got (so far). This wouldn’t have been worth it to me for the miles alone, but with the miles plus the food, wine and other stuff I got, it was worth it.

FirstLeaf Wine Club

Miles earned: 1,200 for a wine club subscription

Cost: $44.27

Time from order to miles: 1 day

Verdict: Worth it

I took a quick quiz to “learn my tastes,” (surprise! mostly red!), paid, and soon an “introductory box” of six bottles was on its way to me via FedEx. The very next day, 1,200 miles were credited to my account. The wine arrived in just a few days — and it could have arrived a couple days earlier, except the first time the FedEx girl came, I was apparently in the shower and didn’t hear the bell.

The wine looks fine and was packaged nicely. My only complaint about this service is that the front of the web site says the price is $34.95, but I was charged $39.95 + $4.32 tax. Maybe my total increased because I chose a “premium” bottle or something. We have since consumed a few bottles of the wine, and while none of it blew us away, for under $8 a bottle, it’s fine.

I canceled this membership as soon as I noticed the miles were in my account. I checked the fine print, and it didn’t say anything about how long you had to belong to the wine club to get the miles.

National Geographic Wines of the World

Miles earned: Bonus rate 1,500 for new customer purchase (normally this offer is 1,000 miles)

Cost: $86.43 for 14 bottle of wine and two logo glasses

Time from order to miles: 0 days

Verdict: Worth it, though more expensive per mile than FirstLeaf

I was a little confused by this one, since the AAdvantage eShopping site doesn’t spell out what exactly you have to buy to get the miles. It doesn’t say you have to sign up for a subscription, which is good. When I clicked through, I saw a similar offer to FirstLeaf, just bigger: pay more, get more wine, and then if you don’t cancel, cases of wine will keep coming.

This one took about a week to arrive, but considering I hadn’t gotten around to opening my first big box of wine yet, that was fine with me. It came with a big fancy print-out showing where all the wine came from. It was two of each variety. Last night we opened one bottle, a pinot noir from France, and it was fine. Especially for under $8.

Oh, by the way, this National Geographic thing is just a rebranding of Laithwaites, which also has an offer for 1,500 miles up on the eShopping portal. I realized this when I got the confirmaion email for my order, and it said it was from Laithwaites. I wish I had seen the Laithwaites offer first, because they’re paying 1,500 miles for spending a little less. It doesn’t say you can’t get miles for both, but I’m betting that Laithwaites wouldn’t see me as a “new customer” so I’m not trying it.

EveryPlate

Miles earned: 1,000 (originally 250 miles, great bonus!)

Cost: $23.53 for six meals (dinner for two, x three)

Time from order to miles: 0 days

Verdict: So worth it!

Since I’m going out of town next week, I thought this was a good time to have a meal prep plan again. Erik likes being able to make something for the kids’ dinner without worrying about shopping. And at about $4 a serving, EveryPlate sounds a lot more affordable than some of the other prep kits we’ve tried. I am a little concerned that it won’t be enough food, since Erik’s going to be trying to make two servings stretch to three people. But I figure he can add in food from the fridge or pantry on the side.

I noticed a coupon code on the eShopping site today that makes meals just $1.39 per serving, “ongoing” — EPLATE139. I’m not sure if that was available when I signed up, but that would make it such a good deal that I would conider continuing this subscription, if Erik and the kids like it.

The fine print on this offer says, “Subscription must be active for at least 30 days.” Since I already got the miles, I’m not sure what would happen if I cancel now. Would they take the miles back? I don’t think I’ve had that happen before, but it’s possible. For now, I put the deliveries on “pause” after the first delivery. I’m not sure if keeping the subscription active but deliveries “paused” for a month will fulfil the requirement. Then again, if we like it enough, I’ll unpause.

CVS

Miles: 38

Cost: $39.42

Verdict: Probably not worth the trouble. (I thought I was going to get a 500 bonus for spending a set amount, probably $50, but I didn’t get it. I screwed up by using a coupon that brought my total below $50.)

I mean, I got typical CVS stuff that I would have bought anyway, and that was on sale, mainly Easter candy and some empty plastic eggs. This is a good one to keep in mind if you are planning to buy drugstore items and you want to get a few miles for them. You can also order online for store pickup to avoid shipping costs.

Factor75

Miles: 1,200, if I ever get them.

Cost: $51.46

Verdict: Not worth it, since even if I ever get the miles, I’m having to invest too much time.

This was the only service that stipulated a minimum membership time on the AAdvantage shopping site. I think it said the minimum was three months? Strangely, I can’t find a minimum displayed on the site now, even in the fine print, so it seems like they took it away. At any rate, this is the only service that didn’t credit me with miles immediately. I’m still watching my AAdvantage shopping activity — about a month after signing up — to see if I get credit for it.

Unlike EveryPlate, this is a ready-made meal service. They deliver a box full of what look like TV dinners, but instead of frozen they are refrigerated. I arranged the initial box to show up the week I was going to France, to take some of the cooking pressure off my husband, who has a long commute. The family thought the meals tasted pretty good, but they weren’t terribly filling. The first order was discounted — $51 for six meals, or about $8.50 per meal. At that price, we already didn’t think this was a very good deal. My husband pointed out that he can get an entree at his work cafeteria for about $7. At the regular about $15 per meal (when you factor in shipping), I don’t think this would be a good value at all.

Since I don’t want to keep paying for these meals while I wait for my membership to be three months old so I can (hopefully) get the miles, I have been hitting “skip delivery” on all the future weeks as they become available on the site. I hope I remember to keep doing that for three months. I have no idea if they’ll still give me the miles if I didn’t actually buy any meals after the first week.