How I used eCommerce and Reward Cards to Fly, Eat, and Live for Free.

This is a really cool life hack that I accidently discovered ever since starting my eCommerce store just a few months ago.  In the past two months, just using the rewards points I've gotten on my credit card I've managed to write off a flight, two months staying at nice hotels, my my rental car and even a couple fancy dinners at a hotel.

The first step was to apply for a Capital One Venture Card.  There are two versions, one is free and the other is $59 after the first year.  I started with the free version called the VentureOne but quickly realized the benefits of the paid version.  The difference is you get 2% back on all purchases instead of 1.25% which adds up fast.  Here is a screenshot of the miles I've gotten so far:

The only thing I did was put all of my purchases onto this card.  It was that easy.  If you're still using a debit card or a rewards card such as Southwest or AA that you can only use to redeem points on a specific airline, change over right now.  

My favorite thing about the Venture card is that you don't need to deal with logging on to use your miles to book a flight, they have something instead called "Purchase Eraser" where you can just log into your account and erase any travel related purchases.  Best of all, "Travel Related" can mean almost anything.

Here is what I have on my credit card statement that can be erased:

It really doesn't matter which ones I choose to erase because at the end of the day, it's really just a credit to my account, but it's kind of fun going through and erasing certain charges.  I ended up choosing a few nice meals at a hotel, two months rent here in Chiang Mai at the Pacific Mansion and the Opium, a flight from Bangkok to Cambodia and a week's rental car back in California.

In total by using my points I've erased $1,061.83 worth of purchases from my statement, which is basically the same as having an additional thousand sixty one dollars in my bank account to pay off my credit card.

One month at The Opium.  Total cost $0

What is truly amazing and even better is that this extra thousand dollars could have went towards buying a round trip ticket to Europe, South America or really anywhere I want to travel to next year. I've decided that instead of writing off my expenses, I'd rather just pay it off as normal and save up my points to fly business class internationally next year.

How to rack up hundreds of thousands of bonus miles for free:

If you look at my credit card statements last year, aside from a flight or two, I paid for most things in cash, especially when living in Thailand.  This year however, I started an eCommerce business and discovered the little business hack called pre-pay.  The way it works is when a customer comes to my online store to buy something, instead of asking for net-30 terms with my supplier, which is basically getting an invoice a month later.  I choose instead to pre-pay for items when it ships on my credit card.   The suppliers love it and are happy to waive any credit card transaction fees because they don't have to deal with giving out credit or late payments, and it's great for me because I get to cycle money though my credit cards and keep the rewards to myself.

Here is the backend to one of my eCommerce stores where you can see how much revenue is funneled through my credit cards every couple of months.  Using the numbers above as an example, over the course of a three months, $70,000 is deposited in my bank account.  I use this money to pay my suppliers my whole sale price and even ask them to bill shipping onto my card, giving me around $50,000 worth of eligible purchases on my credit card which equates to 100,000 rewards miles.

The beauty of starting successful eCommerce stores is aside from the $20K you make in actual profit, you also a bonus of $1,000 to spend towards traveling wherever you want in the world.  It is completely seamless and I didn't even log in to look how many points I had acquired until today.

Even if you were to break even for the first few months of running your eCommerce store, you could potentially use it as a way to cycle money though your rewards cards to rack up travel credits.

Recommended Cards:  

No annual fee, okay for starting out.

Capital One Venture Card:
The card I currently use and recommend.  10,000 bonus points at signup and first year free.

Barclay Arrival Card:
The new better version of the Venture card with 40,000 bonus miles at signup plus 10% extra rewards when redeeming.  

2016 Update: 

If you do the math, on just my Barclay Arrival+ card I earned $5,704.09 in travel rewards last year just by following the steps I mentioned in this article.

About the author:

Johnny FD is the author of "12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap" a travel book about living in Thailand for as cheap as possible and is the host of a popular business podcast.  

Johnny learned about Drop Shipping and how to build successful eCommerce stores using the system at and uses the eCommerece software: Shopify to build and manage his stores.

You can listen to his Podcast for free on iTunes/TravelLikeaBossPodcast.  

Warm Regards,


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  1. This is awesome Info! I have a question though? I'm trying to build my credit score because I got denied recently for a capital one credit card that I applied for. I do own a credit card with $500 limit. I also have a PayPal business debit with an account and will put $1000 at least to give to suppliers to charge when items ship or should I use a secured card? I'm trying to find options around a credit card for now since I am not able to get approved for one until my credit score gets better. Thank you for your help bro and I'm really happy for your success! -Dexter

  2. Hey Dexter, I started with a secured credit card which is one I have to have the same amount of money in a savings account that I can't touch. My credit built up quickly by spending a lot on it and paying it off every month, which hopefully will happen to you as well.

    I would continue to use your $500 card and pay it off regularly and ask for them to raise your limit. Then I would apply for a different credit card and say you make over $100,000 a year. Good luck

  3. Hey Johnny,
    I assume you are US citizen. Are you aware whether this capital one credit card is open to other nationalities?

    1. Hey Xavier, yup i'm a U.S. citizen, not sure if Capital One accepts other nationalities but there may be similar cards in your country.

  4. This is best way to find eCommerce Reward

  5. Hey Johnny,

    Good stuff on this little hack. My question is, what's the difference between just keeping the miles that you got eg 100,000 miles and use that towards your flights, than doing the purchase eraser and getting the credit back? Is it just because with the credit back you can buy anything and NOT just the miles?

    1. Hey Max, I think it'll end up being the same. But it's so much easier just booking whatever flight I want with my credit card and then erasing the purchase afterwards with my miles than trying to shop for flights with miles.

      I think you end up getting better flight deals as well when you are paying "cash" for the flights instead of using miles.

  6. Very insightful Johnny. I showcased this article in my SEO Training in Chennai session.


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