3 Overlooked Ways to Earn Airline Miles

Happy travelers
Photo by Aila Images / Shutterstock.com

Every jet-setter knows that plane trips can take a toll on your savings. The best way to cut those costs is to earn enough airline miles to land free flights.

There are many ways to rack up airline miles. Flying is the most obvious. You can also open a credit card account with an airline. Doing so will often net you at least one free round-trip flight soon after the card is issued.

However, there are several other overlooked ways to earn miles. In some cases, the only cost of accumulating miles is a bit of your time. In other cases, you can collect miles while you make other purchases.

Following are a few ways you can earn airline miles without having to fly.

1. Answer surveys and view ads

Several sites will reward you with miles if you answer surveys. These surveys are on a range of topics — for example, your grocery shopping habits or your opinions about advertisements.

Surveys generally take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour to complete. Typically, the longer and more involved the survey, the more points you earn.

Join the survey site e-Rewards, for example, and you can earn miles to fly on Southwest. Earn $15 in e-Rewards Currency, and you’ll net 300 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points. Earn $100 in e-Rewards Currency, and you’ll get a whopping 2,400 points.

Meanwhile, earning points at Swagbucks.com can score you gift cards for airlines like American and Southwest. To learn more about how Swagbucks works, check out “6 Ways to Score Free Gift Cards and Cash in 1 Place.”

2. Dine out at the right restaurants

Many airlines allow you to earn miles in exchange for going out to dinner. When you enroll in the program, you usually link your credit card to the airline’s program. Then, every time you visit a participating restaurant and pay for the meal with that card, you’ll earn miles.

For example, the American Airlines AAdvantage Dining Program allows you to earn up to five miles for every $1 you spend. Sign up for the Delta SkyMiles Dining program, and you can accumulate up to 3,000 bonus miles within the first 30 days of registering.

Southwest and United also have similar programs. Good food and free plane fare — talk about a win-win!

3. Shop till you drop

Shopping and travel can be a winning combination when you frequent stores where you can earn airline miles with every purchase.

One of the easiest ways to earn miles is to shop through an airline’s shopping portal. Many major airlines have webpages that serve as virtual “shopping malls.” Simply find the retailer of your choice on these pages, click on its name, and you’ll be whisked away to the store’s website.

At that point, purchases you make will earn you miles. Typically, you’ll earn a specific number of miles for every dollar you spend.

Here are the shopping portals of several major airlines, for example:

Do you know of other tricks for collecting airline miles? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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