Earning Airline Miles Without Flying on an Airplane

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Looking to increase your airline points and miles but don’t do a lot of flying?  Airlines are willing to help you out!  If you shop online, there’s a way to earn points without flying. Just start your online shopping by making a quick stop at the airline’s online shopping portal, then proceed to your favorite online stores. In exchange for using their online shopping portal, airlines reward you with frequent flyer miles. They get a commission for sending shoppers out into the world wide web, and you walk away with points and miles.  It’s a way to earn airline miles without flying on an airplane.

An example of earning miles without flying

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you like to fly on American Airlines, and wouldn’t mind earning a few more miles for your next trip.  If you’re going to buy headphones at Best Buy, you would first navigate to the American Airlines online shopping portal.

Advantage Shopping Portal
American Airlines eShopping Portal

Once at the AA shopping portal, you log into your shopping portal account (see below how to set up an account).  Once logged into your portal account, check if Best Buy is a partner. The answer is yes.  You can earn 1 American Airline mile for each dollar spent at Best Buy.  This one AA mile is in addition to any points or cash back you earn through the credit card you use to make the purchase.

Aadvantage Shopping Portal
Best Buy earns one mile per dollar

The next step is to click the “shop now” button on the American Airline shopping portal.  Clicking the button sends you to the Best Buy website.  Once on the Best Buy website I complete my purchase as normal.  The AA shopping portal tracks your purchase, and if the earbuds cost $100 dollars, you would earn 100 American Airline miles.

United Shopping Plus Portal
If you fly on United, check out the Mileage Plus Shopping portal

How about if you don’t fly on American Airlines?  Shopping portals are also offered by Delta, United and many other of the major airlines. Here are few links to get you started.

Doubling (or maybe Quadrupling) Up- Points from the Airline Portals are in Addition to Credit Card Rewards

Miles earned through the portal are in addition to whatever points or miles you earn via the credit card you use for the purchase.  In the following three examples we use the same AA shopping portal, to buy $100 headphones at Best Buy.

Example 1 – Using a Cash Back Credit Card. If you pay with a credit card that earns 2% cash back, you would earn 100 American Airline miles from the portal, in addition, your credit card will give you $2 in cash back (2% of $100).

Example 2 – Using a Credit Card that Earns American Airline Miles.  You’re still after your headphones, but instead of using a credit card that earns cash back, you decide to use your credit card that earns 1 American Airline mile for each dollar spend.  Upon buying the headphones, you’ll earn 100 AA miles from the AA eshopping portal, and you’ll also earn an additional 100 AA miles from your credit card company. This results in a combined total of 200 AA miles towards your next trip.

Example 3  Using a Credit Card that Earns Delta Airline Miles.  In this scenario, we’ll really mix and match.  You use a credit card that earns 1 Delta mile for each dollar spent, but you still go through the AA eshopping portal. Once again you head to BestBuy.com and buy your $100 headphones.  As a result of this purchase, you earn 100 Delta miles from your credit card company, and 100 American Airline Miles from the AA eshopping portal.

How to Start Earning Airline Miles Without Flying

  1. Create an account with airline loyalty program.  This is where your miles will eventually be deposited.
  2. Sign up for an account with the airline’s shopping portal.  In most cases, the shopping portal account is separate account from the frequent flyer account with the airline.
  3. Enter your frequent flyer number when signing up for the portal account. This ensures your miles are correctly deposited to the right airline account.
  4. Start each online shopping trip at the airline portal.  Get in the habit of starting each shopping trip at the portal of your choice.  It is free to use, so why not earn extra points and miles.
  5. Follow up to make sure your purchase tracks. Each shopping trip that successfully tracks, will earn points and miles. See below for successful tracking tips.
  6. Earn miles. Miles earned via online shopping are transferred from the portal to your frequent flyer account. See each individual portal site to determine the frequency of with which they transfer miles.

Guard Against Glitches, Mis-clicks and Malfunctions

A key to earning miles is making sure the shopping trip tracks correctly.  There are different reasons the process might misfire and malfunction.

computer keyboard
  • Glitches with your browser, the presence of ad-blockers, or navigating away from a website prior to completing the purchase can cause tracking issues.
  • Some vendors have terms and conditions with exclude certain type of purchases from earning points.
  • Online stores may void shopping portal miles if a discount code is used.  In that case you may have to choose between earning points through the portal, or using yoru discount code.  See the terms and conditions of each site.

If you make an eligible purchase, and the shopping trip does not track, you can reach out to the shopping portal and open a support ticket.

Side Benefit – Mile Earned Through Online Shopping Can Reset the Clock on Expiring Miles


Many airlines have an expiration policy for their points.  For example, miles earned with American Airline expire after 18-months of inactivity.  One way to extend the life of your hard-earned points is by flying, but what if you don’t have a trip planned? Good news- points earned through the American Airline shopping portal count as “activity”.

Points earned through the American Airlines eshopping portal reset the lifespan of your miles for an additional 18-months.  Each individual shopping trip will continue to reset the 18-month expiration clock.  Each airline has their own policy, so first check regarding the expiration deadline. Also, check regarding whether or not shopping portal points count as eligible “activity”.

In Conclusion

If you shop online, you might as well earn something along the way! Online shopping portals provide a way to earn points and miles without getting on a plane.

Do you use an online portal for shopping? If so, which one?

Earn Airline Miles Without Flying on an Airplane

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