The ultimate guide to maximize your miles
It’s safe to say that more or less everyone knows that there’s free miles to make but besides scary credit cards don’t really know how to earn it or have the energy to dig deeper into it. Believe us when we say that it doesn’t have to be complicated.
You just keep your eyes open and we will tell you when to make a move!
Start with logging on to your preferred airline’s website and note all the different ways you can earn miles, typically through partnership deals with other retailers and travel vendors. Here is a sampling of methods to add miles to your frequent flyer account.
- Airline online bonus mall. When you shop through an airline’s online shopping portal, you can earn miles based on your usual spending habits. You essentially enter through a different door, instead of going directly to the retailer’s website. Some airlines list hundreds of retail partners.
- Dining rewards. Many airlines offer a dining program in which you register a credit card — any card, not only the airline card. Then, every time you use that card at a participating restaurant, you’ll earn miles for your spending — for example, up to 5 miles per dollar spent with United’s program. The offer might extend to thousands of restaurants, bars and pubs.
- Hotel. Book hotel stays at major chains through your airline account and you can earn miles, either based on your spending or a flat number of miles per night. Delta Air Lines, for example, also lets you earn miles when booking Airbnb stays.
- Car rental. Airlines often have deals with car-rental agencies to earn miles by booking through your airline account. Check for other transportation options, too, like Amtrak rail, shuttles and car services. Delta Air Lines includes Lyft.
- Financial partners. Earn miles when doing business with lending and insurance partners, among others. United Airlines recently gave miles for using a currency exchange company.
- Household services. Earn miles on Southwest Airlines for choosing a partner home electricity supplier in certain states. Alaska Airlines has offered promotions of miles for installing solar panels, using a pet-sitting service or buying wine.
- Opinion surveys. Give your two cents and get miles with several carriers. Spirit Airlines even gives a chance to earn miles for playing online games.
- Loyalty bonuses. Alaska Airlines, for example, offers 5,000 bonus miles for each friend or family member approved for an Alaska Airlines consumer credit card. JetBlue allows you to earn “badges” for loyalty and engagement with the company, such as sharing a social media post.
- Convert rewards currency. Other loyalty programs may allow you to convert their points into miles. Several travel credit cards permit this. Diners Club cardholders can convert points to Southwest’s Rapid Rewards points.
Using these ideas has a potentially huge side benefit for preserving your hard-earned miles: It likely counts as activity in your frequent flyer account. That means it resets the clock on your miles expiring because of inactivity. Check with your airline to make sure.