Odds are, being on an airplane in these current times is one of the last places you'd like to be. But if you're dreaming of a jetting off on a much-needed vacation once the dust settles by redeeming points, (there should be a lot of award inventory) the good news is you don’t have to board a plane any time soon. In fact, there are much easier ways to give your balance a boost and avoid an unneeded trip to the airport.
Steps to Boost your Points Balance without Boarding a Plane
In cases when you only need a small top up on your travel points, there are a few simple solutions to amass the miles you’ll need without buying them directly from the airline. In nearly all instances– even during “double point” promotional periods, buying miles is a bad value for passengers. The cents per mile/point ratio always benefit the airline, not to mention the processing fees they tack on at checkout!
Take a look at these seven simple solutions to beef up your points balance – no flying required.
Online Shopping Portals
With brick and mortar shops shuttered at the moment, you're likely doing your shopping online anyway, so you might as well get bonus miles for buying. All major domestic carriers have dedicated online shopping portals or affiliates that can help you earn extra miles on items purchased online. For example, American’s AAdvantage eShopping and Delta’s Skymiles Shopping sites have over 950 online merchants. Click through and shop as you'd typically would online with shops like Apple, Macy’s, and Home Depot, and earn bonus miles on your entire purchase. Bonus miles vary by vendor but featured deals offering mileage multipliers, and seasonal bonuses run throughout the year. Think Cyber Monday, President's Day, and around the winter holidays.
Last month, on American's portal, customers could earn 250 extra miles for every two purchases made, allowing shoppers to earn up to 1,000 total bonus points. By leveraging mileage multipliers and spending bonuses, savvy shoppers could potentially earn 10,000 additional miles with the purchase of just one laptop or TV by timing their purchase right.
- American Airlines - AAdvantage eShopping
- Delta Air Lines - Skymiles Shopping
- United Airlines - MileagePlus Shopping
- JetBlue - TrueBlue Shopping
- Southwest - Rapid Rewards Shopping
- Alaska Airlines - Mileage Plan Shopping
- Spirit Airlines - FREE Spirit Online Mall
One of the simplest yet overlooked ways to not only keep your frequent flyer account active but to pile a steady portion of points on your plate is to join an airline dining program. While going out to a sit-down dinner is on hold for the time being, ordering takeout or delivery is still on the table for topping up your points balance.
After signing up for one of these free to join programs, all that members need to do is register a credit card and use it to pay the bill after dining at a participating restaurant. Earning miles on each dollar spent. In most programs, the more you eat at participating restaurants, the more miles you'll receive. For example, after accumulating 12 restaurant visits (per calendar year) on United's MileagePlus Dining Program, users will be bumped up to VIP status and earn 5x miles spent at participating eateries.
Couple that with a reward credit card, like the Hilton Honors American Express Card that also earns 5x points on restaurants. You'll be double-dipping to the tune of 10x points for each dollar on the final check. So when the waiter brings over a bill of $100 for the table, think of it as a dessert of 1,000 points potentially added to your account. To add a cherry on top, most dining programs offer lucrative sign-up bonuses for first time members. So make sure to be on the lookout for those deals dishing out even more miles for your meals.
- American Airlines - AAdvantage Dining
- Delta Air Lines - Skymiles Dining
- United Airlines - MileagePlus Dining
- JetBlue - TrueBlue Dining
- Southwest - Rapid Rewards Dining
- Alaska Airlines - Mileage Plan Dining
- Spirit Airlines - FREE SPIRIT Dining
Related: The Travel Rewards Credit Cards You Need in Your Wallet
Book a Hotel Room
When you no longer have to shelter in place, remember not all trips require air travel. So, if you’re on the road or need a staycation to change up the scenery, put down your frequent flyer details and rack up the rewards. Hotel booking sites like Rocketmiles and Pointshound offer lucrative mileage bonuses alongside their room rates. When searching for accommodation, enter the program you'd like to collect miles in, and both websites will present you up with a list of hotel options and quotes on the miles you'll earn during your stay. These sites run promotions on the regular and new users can often get additional miles for their first stay.
Now that you likely have some extra time on your hands and don’t mind letting the airlines pick your brain for a bit. Answering online surveys is an easy way to put some extra points in your pocket. The time to your tally of points ratio might be a bit off for some, typically around 250-400 miles for a half-hour/hour of your time. But if you're on the cusp of an award ticket and need a boost, it's a constructive way to help you cross the finish line.
Raise a Glass
Know the difference between a Merlot and a Malbec? Join a wine-of-the-month club via a sponsored airline link and not only will you be on your way to becoming a sommelier you'll also be on the way to a free flight. Wine merchants like Vinesse, Winc, and Laithwaite’s offer introductory mile bonuses (~2,000 – 5,000) for new subscribers and fairly generous points on dollars spent subsequentially. As with many subscription clubs, you’ll have to weigh the value and make sure to follow the details for the proper amount of points to post. If satisfied, you’ll be clinking glasses over the Atlantic with a nice mileage boost to tour the vineyards in Tuscany or Bordeaux when the situation is right.
Related: How to Fly for (Almost) Free Using Credit Card Points
Sign Up for A Co-Branded Credit Card
If you’re looking for the easiest avenue to amass a lot of miles at once, the quickest way is to sign-up for a co-branded credit card. Nowadays, all those hours and miles spent sitting onboard an aircraft seat simply don't reap the rewards they used to. On most airline-branded credit cards, after approval and meeting the minimum spend requirements, many sign-up bonuses will net you enough miles for an economy domestic roundtrip ticket. Maybe even enough for a one-way to Europe, the Caribbean, or Hawaii in business class now that availability is wide-open for later this year. To find out more perk and to compare current offers and sign-up bonuses on the best co-branded airline credit cards, click here.
Refer a Friend
Lastly, if you currently hold an airline-branded credit card that you use regularly – tell a friend. Numerous card companies promote referral programs where if a friend or relative is approved via a link that you've sent them. You'll be eligible to secure a bonus on the backend. Point bonuses vary, but it’s relatively common to earn 5,000 or 10,000 points for each application that gets accepted.
Related: Here's How to Get the Most From Your Credit Card Rewards
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