When I travel, I often see things and think, “I wish my son could see that. He would love it.” or feel sad that I can’t share an experience with my family. Because of that, I try to take my family with as often as possible, but plane tickets can be so expensive! I simply can’t afford to take them everywhere, but I can take them quite often using frequent flyer miles.
I do travel a lot, but still not enough to earn miles for as often and as far as we travel. Fortunately, I know a lot of ways to earn miles without taking a single step on an airplane. Before I share those, I need a small disclaimer. I have been a member of airline programs on U.S. Airways, American, British Airways, United, and Southwest so know that not all airlines allow you to earn or use miles the same way (please check your airline’s rules and offers); however, I have found that most major airlines have some or all of these programs.
- Get the airline’s credit card. Not only can you earn miles for purchases you’d make anyway, they often come with perks like free luggage, priority boarding, and most come with periodic bonus miles or vouchers making it so that you can earn free trips faster.
- Register your credit/debit cards with the airline’s dining program. Once you’ve done that, when you dine at participating restaurants, you will earn miles or points based on the amount spent. Sometimes you can also earn bonus miles for completing reviews of the restaurant.
- Shop online through the airline’s shopping mall. Most major airlines have a link to a shopping area on their website. You can use that portal to shop at numerous online retailers like Kohl’s, Target, Fedex Office, FTD, and lots more. Depending on the agreement between the airline and store, you will usually earn 1 to 10 points per dollar spent.
- Do business with the airline’s partners. For example, Southwest has a program where people in certain states can earn miles just for paying their electric bill. U.S. Airways partners with a couple of dental clinics so you can earn miles on your dental work or orthodontia. United has a program where you can earn miles for donating to the National Foundation for Cancer Research or joining MileagePlus Fitness with gym memberships nationwide. I’ve seen everything from miles for Lasik to miles for installing a home security system.
- Take surveys. Several airlines now have partnerships with survey companies that award miles for survey completion. I usually get a couple of surveys a week from e-Rewards.
- Read magazines. Magazine subscriptions can be an easy way to earn miles. For example, as of today, 26 issues of People earn 2,200 United MileagePlus miles. U.S. Airways is offering 200 miles for a 10-issue subscription to Disney Family Fun magazine (as of the writing of this post).
- Use the airline’s other travel partners. Most airlines have partnerships with rental car companies, hotels, airport shuttle services, and on some, you can even earn miles at paid parking lots and on train tickets.
Using these programs, I have earned 10,000 or more miles in a single month! At first, it seemed like a lot to keep track of, but once I started making sure I checked the airline’s website before shopping or doing business, I discovered that I could easily earn miles for many everyday transactions. Next thing I knew, I was able to afford tickets to Europe and even Africa! I know you can, too.