Last updated: 01:47 PM ET, Wed March 18 2015

Chinese Billionaire Earns 18 Million Frequent Flier Miles With One Purchase

Airlines & Airports | American Express Travel | Donald Wood | March 18, 2015

Chinese Billionaire Earns 18 Million Frequent Flier Miles With One Purchase

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Frequent flier miles have become a major selling point for many credit card companies, but Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian has perfected the art of acquiring them by using his American Express Centurion card to gain more miles.

According to Frederik Balfour of, Liu flew to an auction in Hong Kong using the frequent flier miles he earned by purchasing an ancient Chinese ceramic known as the Chicken Cup for $36 million in July.

While at Christie's auction house in Hong Kong this time, Liu once again used his credit card to make a purchase. Instead of a ceramic, he spent $45 million on a 15th century Tibetan embroidered silk thangka.

The $45 million selling price translates to about 18,750,000 miles, according to Balfour.

To make a purchase of that magnitude with his credit card, Liu was forced to pay in 31 installments due to Christie's system only being able to accept transaction up to a maximum amount. That means he signed 31 separate receipts as well.

The wildest part of the entire story is that Liu had no idea he would collect points for his purchase until ran a story about him. He told Balfour, “Since you wrote the story, I started to pay attention to the points. I only know that I’ll collect tons of points this time, of course no fewer than the Chicken Cup.”

Not only did Liu use the points from his first purchase to fly his family to Christie's in order to make another purchase, but he also flew his wife, Wang Wei, and daughter, Betty, to New York the following day.

With another 18 million or so more frequent flier miles coming his way, Liu’s entire family should expect several more vacations as a result of the recent purchases.


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