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Ways to Build Up Points Besides Traveling


When I tell friends about collecting miles, they often tell me that they don’t travel much, so they can’t get many miles.

That may have been true 20 years ago, but it’s not true now. Thanks to credit card offers, shopping portals, and more, you can accrue tons of miles without ever leaving your couch. Here are some ideas:

  1. Credit card bonus offers
    If you’ve ever read my blog before, this one is obvious, but let’s not ignore the obvious. You can get tons of miles, fast, by taking out new accounts with credit cards offering sign-up bonuses.
    If you don’t already have one and you haven’t taken out a lot of new credit cards recently, the best way to start at this game is by getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. Then you’ll have 50,000 Chase points, worth about $625 in travel.
  2. Dining programs
    Most airlines having a program that rewards you for eating at certain restaurants. Make sure you register every credit card you might possibly use to eat out with a dining program. You can’t register the same card for more than one dining program — they’re all administered by the same company, so if you register a card for a new one, they’ll boot that card off the old one.
  3. Shopping portals
    This is an area I neglected in the past, and now that I’m remembering to shop through the AAdvantage portal, I’m excited to see miles racking up. This works basically like any kind of affiliate program — click through the AAdvantage eShopping portal to a store, and the store will give AAdvantage a kickback, which they’ll share with you in the form of miles.
    The neat thing about this is that sometimes stores run promotions where you can earn more than one mile per dollar for shopping there. Sometimes they’ll even give you a discount. For example, New Balance right now is offering 5 miles per dollar if you click through American Airlines’ AAdvantage, plus they give you a coupon code for 10% off.
  4. Car rentals
    You can give your frequent flyer number when you rent a car or register it in your online profile with the rental car company, but you can sometimes get more miles or points by clicking through your frequent flyer program portal to rent.
    For instance, this summer we rented a car from Budget and we clicked through the AAdvantage portal. We received 500 bonus miles, plus 500 miles for the rental, totaling in 1,000 miles for the 14-day rental.
  5. Hotel stays
    Just like with the car rental, give your frequent flyer number at check in or online when making the reservation to rack up miles. You might even be able to earn miles in addition to the hotel’s own reward points.
  6. Special promotions
    A few months ago AAdvantage offered a promotion promising up to 20,000 bonus miles if you did transactions with specific retail partners and ate at an AAdvantage Dining restaurant. I tried to qualify for the whole 20,000 for both my husband and myself, but I fell short. Still, my husband ended up getting 5,000 bonus miles out of the deal, in addition to the miles he got for each individual shopping and dining transaction.
  7. Other special offers
    You can sometimes get miles for signing up for a new bank account, a new cell phone plan, or practically anything other service that your rewards program decides to partner with.
    I’m currently considering switching my cell phone to Sprint in order to earn 25,000 AAdvantage miles.
    What did I miss? Are there non-travel methods you have used to earn big miles that I should start using too?