Welcome to the world of points and miles! We’re sharing how ordinary people can travel to extraordinary places with the use of airline miles and hotel points. In this series we lay out steps to save money and travel more. These steps include:
- Getting Started with Points and Miles
- Look and Learn Before You Leap
- Decide What Type of Reward Points You Want to Begin Earning
- Sign-Up For a Frequent Flyer Account
- Earn Your First Points
- Pick the Pace That Works For You
- Earn Points Through Credit Card Sign-Ups
- Earn Points Through Credit Card Spending
- Earn Points Through Shopping Portals
- Earn Points When Dining
- Earn Points When Renting Cars and Booking Hotels
- Redeem Your Points for Travel
- Keep Your Points from Expiring
- Keep on Earning
In our last step we talked about opening up a frequent flyer account. Now it’s time to start earning those points and miles! The following is a quick overview of seven ways to start earning miles and is meant as an introduction. We’ll expand on each of the seven methods in a separate post. So with no further ado, here are seven ways to start earning points.
1 – Fly On an airplane
Do you have a trip coming up? Before traveling on a paid ticket, sign up for that airline’s frequent flyer program, include your frequent flyer number on the reservation and earn miles for flying. This is the classic way of earning miles.
2- Sign Up For A Credit Card
When it comes to earning points and miles, the biggest bang for the buck is usually the welcome bonuses offered by credit card companies. But like many things in life, the bigger payout comes with a potentially higher risk. This risk comes in form of accumulating credit card debt. The credit card company is offering the welcome bonus in order to attract new customers. Some of those customers will dig themselves into debt. We’ll talk more in a future post about the benefits and dangers of earning points through credit cards.
3 – Put Your Existing Spending On A Points Earning Credit Card
We put all possible expenses on our points earning credit cards. Each month we pay the credit card balance in full, and see our points balance grow. Paying off the complete credit card balance each and every month is mission critical. If for whatever reason a person is unable to pay off the complete balance, the cost of interest will far outweigh the value of any miles earned. As mentioned above, we’ll talk in a future post about benefits and drawbacks of earning points through credit cards.
4 – Earn Points and Miles Through A Shopping Portal
If you shop online, there’s a way to earn points and miles without leaving your house. Start your online shopping trip by making a quick stop at an airline’s online shopping portal. Once you click through the online portal, proceed as normal to your favorite online stores. In exchange for using their online shopping portal, airlines reward you with frequent flyer miles. It’s a way to earn airline miles without flying on an airplane. If you want to learn more, here are three posts in which we discuss earning shopping portals.
5 – Participate in a Dining Reward Program
Many airlines offer a way to earn miles and points when dining out. This comes through enrolling in their dining rewards program. Once you sign up for an airline’s dining program and link a credit card, you’ll earn points when dining at participating resteraunts.
Points earned through the dining program are in addition to points earned through using you’re linked credit card. For example, if the dining program is offering 4 points per dollar spent, and the credit card you use offers 2 points per dollar on all purchases, you will earn a total of 6 points per dollar spent. Here are some of the airlines that offer a dining program.
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Dining Plan
- American Airlines AADvantage Dining
- Delta Skymiles Dining
- Jet Blue TrueBlue Dining
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining
- United MileagePlus Dining
Dining programs may offer a sign up bonus for new participants. For example, Southwest offer a 1000 point bonus for signing up, and completing a certain amount of dining.
6 – Earn Points and Miles For Hotel Stays
There are several options for earning points when booking a hotel. For example you can..
- Earn Airline Points by booking through an airline’s travel agency – Most major airlines have a program where hotels can be booked through their travel partnerships. These bookings can earn frequent flyer miles.
- Earn Hotel loyalty points when booking with the hotel – For example, booking a hotel directly with Marriott, can earn Marriott points. In many cases, if you want to earn hotel points, it is important to book direct with the hotel. Some hotel brands will neither recognize elite status or give points for bookings made through third party booking agencies.
7 – Earn Points and Miles For Rental Cars
Car rentals can also be an opportunity to earn airline miles. As seen below, American Airlines ran an offer to earn points for booking with Avis or Budget. Before renting a car through an airline’s program, it make sense to shop around to ensure the rates are competitive. You don’t want to pay an extra $50 in rental car fees, to earn $10 worth of airline points. Compare paid rates to see if the renting through a frequent flyer program makes sense for you.
How Will You Get Started?
Here are a seven ways to start earning points and miles. Which one sound good to you?