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How to Earn Miles Without Flying

Omar Uraimov Aug. 12, 2016, 1:24 a.m.

Now that you’ve got a frequent flyer account set up with an airlines alliance it’s time to actually accrue some miles so you can get around to actually booking a flight! Constantly flying around and actually being a “frequent flyer” could be taxing on you and your wallet, so you’ll want to get those points and miles another way. If you’re thinking “but it’s called a frequent flyer program,” you’re not wrong. It’s just that it’s often easier to rack up miles in other ways:



  • Eat It’s likely you’ll eat out a few times a year at the very minimum, so as we've mentioned in our beginner's holy grail guide, you should take advantage by earning miles for dining. As you recall from our previous article, there are three major airline alliances each with a major participating airline that you’re likely to have flown with at least once. United (Star Alliance), Delta (SkyTeam), American (Oneworld) each have a dining rewards program built to help you collect more miles (Southwest isn't part of these alliances, but also participates). You’ll typically earn up to 5 miles for every dollar you spend out eating, including tax and tip, at a participating restaurant. If you meet dining quotas, you’ll get an additional earning bonus every time you dine.

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  • Shop Each of the three major airlines listed above also have a shopping portal where you can do your online shopping while earning miles. It’s the same thing as shopping online as you usually do, on the same websites you shop on, except you’ll earn frequent flyer miles. For example, you can find shopping portals for United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines. Typically, you’ll earn around 1 to 4 miles for every dollar spent through these shopping portals. However, airlines often offer bonus earning specials or seasonal earning multiples that could get you as much as 30 miles per dollar spent! This is an easy way to handle your everyday purchases while earning airline miles towards your next trip.

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  • Get A Card There are plenty of credit, debit, and rewards cards out there that come with sign-up bonuses and that give you points or miles for every dollar you spend using them. For example, the Chase Sapphire credit card gets you 1 to 2 miles for every dollar you spend and gets you 5,000 bonus points when you sign up. There are cards that also offer seasonal or quarterly earning bonuses, usually around 5 points per dollar spent on certain transaction categories (i.e. gas, groceries, travel, etc.). There’s tons of rewards cards out there, but you should look for one that gives you a good sign-up bonus, earns you at least 1 mile for each dollar, and most importantly, it should allow you to transfer your credit card points into your airline’s frequent flyer miles. Note that airline co-brand cards, such as the American AAdvantage Citibank credit card, work with airline miles directly so there’s no need to think about point-to-mile transfers.

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The truth is that earning miles without flying only begins with these options. If you search hard enough, nearly anything can get you miles. You can earn miles doing surveys online, opening a bank or investment account, paying your rent, or even by liking and following airlines on social media when they offer social media campaign specials. Whatever you do, make sure you earn points for it.