5 ways to earn miles without stepping foot on a plane

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Earning miles in the air is very straight forward. Get on the plane and earn one frequent flyer mile for every mile flown in the air. Although, elite flyers may earn a mileage bonus for every mile flown, there are much better ways to earn miles on the ground. In this Hot Topics feature, Clint Johnston, author of the popular TripHackr.com blog, has several clever off-board methods to increase your mileage bank.

clint johnstonThe fastest way to earning miles doesn’t require you to board a plane. All you need to do is take advantage of the miles that are already being offered to you by the airlines from various programs. This is what travel hackers do every year to take free flights around the world.

Travel hacking is the art of accumulating as many miles as you can to redeem for free flights and hotels. These are some of my favorite travel hacks to earn as many miles as possible every year.

1. Sign Up for a Co-Branded Credit Card

Apply for a co-branded airline credit card that has a large sign up bonus. These cards will earn you 30,000 miles or more once you meet the minimum spending requirements. Most cards do not have annual fees the first year and you can choose to cancel the card before the fee is due or keep it if you find the benefits valuable to you as a traveler.

2. Sign Up for a Points Credit Card

Points cards also have large sign up bonuses and they offer more flexibility. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with a 40,000 point bonus and this can be redeemed on many different airlines. The benefit of a card like this is the points are more flexible than miles but both types of cards offer a jumpstart to earning more miles.

3. Shop Through Online Portals

Every major airline has a shopping portal where you can earn miles for items you buy online. To earn miles simply login with your frequent flyer account on the portal, find your favorite retailer, and you will be redirected to the site. By starting your shopping at the portal you will earn miles for every dollar spent. If you already planned to buy something online you might as well earn miles in return. 

4. Earn Miles Sleeping at Hotels

Hotel loyalty programs are great and there are great hotel credit cards with large sign up bonuses worth multiple nights in a hotel. However, if you would prefer to earn miles every night you book a hotel you should use Rocketmiles. By booking hotels through their site you earn thousands of miles for every night spent in a hotel. Over the course of a year this can really add up and even earn you enough miles to book a free flight.

5. Earn Miles with Dining Programs

Every major airline has a dining program where you can earn miles for every dollar you spend at participating restaurants. Simply register a credit card or debit card with the airline dining of your choosing and go out to dinner to earn miles. Once you swipe the card the miles will automatically post to your frequent flyer account.  This program is nice because it will earn you more miles than simply using your travel credit card alone. Some restaurants offer multiple miles per dollar and even bonus miles.

Next week Clint will share 5 more tips for racking up frequent flyer miles without actually flying.

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