I absolutely love earning frequent flyer miles but don’t fly that much. That means in order to book travel with award miles, I need to find a way to earn miles without actually flying. One might think this is hard to do, but it’s actually really simple.
- Open a Credit Card that Earns Award Miles
The sign up bonus on most mile earning credit cards is enough to fly round trip to Europe! Beyond that, every dollar that you charge is a mile closer to your dream vacation. I always charge everything that I can in order to maximize the miles that I earn for free. Just make sure that you aren’t charging more than you can afford as the APR on these cards is extremely high.
- Stay at a Hotel
Did you know that you can earn airline miles by staying at a hotel? There are several places that I look when deciding where to book my hotel.
Rocketmiles offers a minimum of 1,000 miles per night in addition to a 1,000 mile sign up bonus. They don’t always have a ton of hotel options and sometimes the prices can be higher than going through the hotel directly, so make sure you are getting a good deal before you book. Use my referral link and we’ll both earn 1,000 miles when you book your first stay.
PointsHound is very similar to Rocketmiles, but in my experience offers more hotel options. They also pull in more low cost hotel options which is nice if you’re looking to save on hotel costs. Use my referral link and we’ll both earn 1,000 miles when you book your first stay.
- Rent a Car
Rental cars also allow you to earn airline miles instead of points in their loyalty program. To find the rental car partners and rates, go to your preferred airline’s website. From there, go to the earning miles section and find the rental car option. You will book your rental car directly from the airline, not through the rental car company.
Before you book, make sure that you search for the lowest cost rental car. If you are traveling for work and price is less important than personal travel, this is a super easy way to earn miles.
- Do Online Shopping
Did you know that you can earn points by shopping online through a airline affiliated shopping portal? Once you’re logged into the site with your frequent flyer account, you can search for the item that you are interested in. The interface is really user friendly and you can filter by price and miles earned. In addition to searching by item, you can also filter by store. The bonuses apply to not only shipped orders, but other stores including Home Depot or Target allow you to order online and pick up your order in store.
- Go Out to Eat
There is a network of restaurants that give up to 5 points per dollar if you have your credit card linked to their dining network. In addition to the miles you earn for dining, you also get a sign up bonus which is typically around 1,000 miles. The best part is that you can participate with all of the different airlines meaning that you get multiple sign up bonuses. There are a limited number of restaurants that participate, but if you live in a major city or are traveling to a major city, you can usually find something pretty easy.
- Donate to Charity
By donating to charity, you can earn miles. It’s a win win. The charitable donation is even tax deductible less the value of the miles which is a great benefit! My favorite is the American Airlines partnership with Susan Komen where you can earn 10 miles per dollar donated up to 60,000 miles per year. United also has a partnership with the National Foundation for Cancer Research where you can earn 10 miles per dollar up to 250,000 miles.
- Change Your Power Provider
Change your power from a lesser known company and earn miles in the process. The best part is that you still get your bill and power service through the power provider in your area. Unfortunately not all states participate, but if you can participate, it’s easy miles. There are many different companies that participate in these programs. I use Energy Plus and was given a 7,500 bonus for signing up plus I earn 3 points per dollar on all of my bills since I have a United credit card.
- Change from Cable to DIRECTV
Everyone loves TV but did you know that you can earn 25,000 miles by signing up for DIRECTV? You have to sign a 2 year agreement but if you were looking to trade up from cable anyway it’s a great deal.
- Write Hotel Reviews
After all the points you earn by staying at hotels, you can earn even more. By reviewing hotels through Holiday Check you can earn 70 American Airlines miles per review. There is a maximum of 10 reviews per month or 700 miles per month. I have found that the short reviews are easy and only take about 3 minutes to complete. Make sure that you are only reviewing hotels you have stayed at though as occasionally they will ask for a receipt from the hotel to ensure that reviews on their site are accurate.
- Take Surveys
I have used both and my preference is E-rewards. You receive more miles per survey and if you are not eligible for a survey you still get some miles into your account. Unfortunately you have to wait until you have $25 worth of surveys completed before you can transfer 500 miles to your United account. If you do sign up, make sure that you will complete several surveys or you will get zero miles for your efforts.
Opinion Miles Club is OK but not my favorite. There is a sign up bonus of 300 United miles, or 600 miles if you have a United credit card, once you complete your first survey so it’s worth it to do at least 1 survey. I have been frustrated when I have started surveys and 5 minutes in they determine that I am not eligible. With their structure, this means that I will get zero miles for my time and effort. The amount of time to complete surveys seems longer and the reward is lower than E-rewards.
Both programs transfer the points immediately into your United account. This is great because many mile earning programs have a long delay.
You can always book your room through the hotel and opt to earn airline miles instead of their hotel points. You don’t usually earn a lot of miles per stay, but over time it would add up. You have to be a member of the hotel loyalty program and opt to earn miles instead of points. Sometimes this is buried on their website as they want you to earn their hotel points instead of airline miles.
It can take a few weeks for your miles to post so you’ll have to be patient. I always keep a list of the miles that I am owed to make sure that I am not shorted. If the miles don’t post, you can submit a request through the shopping portal to get the miles posted. Whenever I have requested missing miles they have always been posted, just make sure that you have your order number handy so they can verify your order on their end.