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How a frequent flyer maximizes rewards programs

Ben Schlappig has flown nearly 5 million miles in the last 10 years, many times for free. The admittedly obsessed traveler has mastered the art of scoring airline miles and is now helping others do the same.

He began jetsetting when he was 15, and since April of 2014 he's been traveling full time—giving up his apartment and living on airplanes and in hotels ever since.

"Since last April, I've flown close to 600,000 miles, Schlappig said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell" Friday.

"It's been a fun adventure."

Airplane
ICHIRO | Photodisc | Getty Images

His success largely comes down to finding ways to maximize points using credit cards.

"The credit card companies give you big sign-up bonuses just for applying for a credit card, and on top of that … if you maximize your spend every day, so if you try to earn bonus points by using the right credit cards, those points really rack up quickly," he explained.

He is also a "mileage runner," flying for the sole purpose of accumulating miles.

Schlappig has turned his passion into his work, blogging about his experience on his website, One Mile at a Time. He's also launched an award travel booking service, PointsPros, where consultants help travelers navigate the rewards systems and redeem miles.

While he admits he's a bit of an outlier because he's constantly travelling, he thinks the average person who has family and business schedules to work around can also find value.

"If you want to take your family to Europe in summer in business class that's perfectly possible on miles, while it might not otherwise be something a family can afford."

Travelers just have to understand how to best use the programs.

"The problem is that these programs are so complicated and that's kind of by design because they want most members to not redeem optimally," said Schlappig.

"You just have to know how to do it, and then you can get huge value out of it."

Despite the fact that he's spent the last 10 years traveling around the globe practically for free, he said the airlines like him.

"They think of people who are so obsessed with programs as kind of ambassadors for their brands. They love how engaged we are in the program," he said.

—CNBC's Jackson Stone contributed to this report.