Earning miles and points is important in this hobby – as is redeeming them in order to get the best value from your rewards. There are a number of different ways to earn miles and points, but we figured we would share with you the ways that our team mainly earns miles and points. If you maximize all of these ways mentioned below, you could significantly increase your miles and points balances quickly. As with any action in the travel world, always make sure to check the details and terms for any potential restrictions or exceptions.
1. Buy a (slightly) More Expensive Ticket
The quickest way to earn miles other than huge credit card sign-up bonuses, is by actual flying. However, often, the cheapest fares earn little-to-no miles – it all depends on the frequent flyer program. With revenue-based frequent flyer programs, you earn miles based on how much you actually pay for the ticket. However, “traditional” frequent flyer programs are those that still award you miles and points based on the distance you fly and your booking class. The more expensive your booking class is, the more miles you get. Sometimes the difference between the cheapest ticket and the next level fare isn’t that huge and it could earn you more miles (like perhaps 25% vs 50% of the miles flown). Always check with the programs you are crediting to.
2. Credit Car Rentals to Frequent Flyer Programs
I credit all of my car rentals to frequent flyer programs instead of actually participating in a program from the car rental company – I’m not a member of any and I kind of hate renting cars because of all the hidden fees and hassle to deal with. Whenever there is no other option than to rent a car, I always make sure I get miles or points for it in one of my many frequent flyer programs.
3. Use Travel Credit Cards with Transferable Points
You should always earn miles and points for anything you pay for – and the best way to do that is by using a card from either American Express, Chase, Citi, or Capital One. If you have a card from these banks that earns their points currency, you can then transfer those points to select airlines and hotels. Note that some transfers are not instant and some transfer ratios are not 1:1. Furthermore, not all credit cards that earn bank points are eligible to be transferred to partners – be sure to check the details with your bank. You could also use a credit card of a given airline and earn points directly into a frequent flyer program, however, we advise against doing that in order to ensure you are safe from devaluations.
4. Use Shopping & Dining Portals
Airlines have shopping and dining portals – the way they work is simple, just go to the airline’s shopping portal, sign-in, and then find your desired store. Once you click through, the airline’s shopping portal will redirect you to your desired store and once you make a purchase, you can earn miles – on top of what you would earn from the credit card you pay with. Keep in mind not all stores are listed in the shopping portals and not all purchases are eligible. There are also dining portals for restaurants – you usually have to check what restaurants participate in the dining portal and add your credit card to the dining portal and then pay for your meals with that credit card.
5. Participate in Miles and Points Promotions
Airlines and hotels frequently offer promotions – whether that’s bonus miles or hotel points, you should always sign-up for a promotion even if you think you won’t qualify for it. That’s because life happens and unexpected trips happen, which just might qualify for the promotion that is running. Always sign-up and register for these promotions when they are announced so that you don’t forget about them later.
6. Stay at the right Hotels
Utilize frequent guest programs like Marriott Bonvoy or World of Hyatt to earn points and elite night credits on your hotel stays. The higher your elite level is, the more points you will earn. Remember that some premium travel credit cards come with hotel elite status, which can increase your points earning potential. Remember that you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to over 40 different airlines but the transfers are not instant. Transferring other hotel points to airlines is never worth it.
7. Combine Miles and Points with Family Members
Many frequent flyer programs allow you to create a family link and link accounts from other members of your household/family. Then you are able to redeem those points from one single account – so let’s say you want to book a ticket for your wife but neither you nor her have enough miles in your accounts, a family link could combine both of your balances and at that point, you may have enough miles for the award ticket. Not all programs offer the ability to create household accounts or family links, but more and more programs are starting to offer this feature.
8. Buy Miles and Points (when they’re on sale)
Both frequent flyer and frequent guest programs sell miles and points on sale from time to time – whether that is at a discount or with bonus miles included, you should always keep up with the latest promotions and see if you can use them to your advantage for your upcoming trip. Just remember that when you buy miles or points, there are cases where they haven’t posted instantly – which can be a problem if you are wanting to redeem them right away. Be sure to check the details of the program.
9. Bank Checking and Savings Accounts
While limited, there are some smaller banks out there that allow you to earn miles for simply depositing and maintaining a balance of a certain amount in a checking or savings account. Obviously the more you deposit, the more you could earn, but this isn’t a way to generate millions of miles each month (unless you are super rich, in which case you don’t need miles in the first place). Not only that, there also might be a bank or two that allows you to earn miles for debit card purchases – again, while limited, it could be of use to some people.
All in All
From buying a higher fare to renting cars to using the right credit card, you can maximize your mileage earning potential very quickly. There are so many ways these days to earn more miles and points, that sometimes it is hard to keep track of – but remember that there are a number of ways to earn more than just one point per $1 spent – make sure to not only use the correct credit card, but to also shop through an airline portal for added points. Remember to take advantage of promotions and from time to time, check if there might be a bonus on buying miles – there are airlines that frequently sell points with up to a 200% bonus. The quicker you earn, the faster you will fly.