23 Ways to Earn Airline Miles Without Flying
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You don't have to fly to earn tons of airline miles. Read this article to learn how to rack up the miles fast.
Joining a frequent flyer program is a great way to rack up miles you can use towards free flights. But there's more ways to earn miles than just being a "frequent flyer".
In fact, it's possible to max out your airline miles without ever leaving the ground, all while doing the normal everyday things you do... well, every day. Yes, just by going about your normal life, you can earn enough points for a free flight.
Intrigued? Ready to get started earning points? If you don't already belong to any, you would need to sign up for a frequent flyer account with the airline of your choosing (don't worry, you don't need to fly to sign up for an account). Getting a free flight takes planning. Luckily, we've done the work for you by gathering up 23 ways you can earn airline miles without ever leaving the ground.
Note: Information based on May 2016 promotions. Promotions, deals and offers can change at any time.
1. Cash in on a new account bonus from a credit card
Adding a new travel rewards card to your wallet can help you pile on the miles in no time. Some reward cards give generous sign-up bonus points, where you can then transfer them to airline partners. Just make sure you can meet the minimum spending requirements in order to pocket the points.
Check out our travel rewards card recommendations right here.
2. Sign up for frequent flyer dining rewards
Everyone eats right? Whether you enjoy a weekly meal out or save dining out for more special occasions, why not earn some air mile points at the same time? Many airlines partner with restaurants to earn you points every time you dine with one in their network. Just sign up for the airline's dining rewards program with your frequent flyer number.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles Card - earn miles through the SkyMiles dining program
- American Airlines AAdvantage Dining Network - Earn 1,000 bonus miles when you spend $30 in the first 30 days
- United MileagePlus Dining - Earn up to 3,500 bonus miles on qualifying purchases made in the first 30 days
- Spirit - Earn 1,000 Free Spirit miles when you spend $30 in the first 30 days
- Southwest - Earn 1,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $25 in the first 30 days
- Hawaiian - Earn up to 25% cash back when you dine at a restaurant on Mogl; every $1 in cash back can be redeemed for 40 HawaiianMiles
3. Shop online
Most people shop online these days and you're missing out on a lot of mileage points. Every time you want to shop online, first check your loyalty programs' online portals before you make your purchase. Airlines work with a lot of major retailers, and chances are, you're already shopping with them.
- Earn United MileagePlus points when you make purchases online at more than 850 participating retailers
- Earn up to 11 AAdvantage miles per $1 when you shop the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping Mall
- Earn up to 5 SkyMiles per $1 through the Delta SkyMiles Shopping portal
- Earn up to 15 Rapid Rewards points per $1 when you shop Southwest's Rapid Rewards shopping mall
- Earn miles through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan shopping
Tip: When you find yourself wanting to place an online order, type in the store in Evreward and it'll pull up all the loyalty reward programs it works with. (For example, you can earn miles for shopping at Forever 21 with American, Hawaiian, or United Airlines.)
4. Set up a new bank account
There are some purchases that you may be more comfortable using a debit card for, but you can still earn miles that way. Delta, for instance, partners with SunTrust to offer the Delta SkyMiles World Debit Card, which comes with a 5,000-mile bonus offer and pays miles on every purchase. Here are a few other bank account promotions that can land you some serious miles:
- BankDirect - Earn 10,000 AAdvantage miles when you open a BankDirect interest checking account with direct deposit
- Citibank - Earn 50,000 AAdvantage miles when you open a new Citigold checking account
- UFB Direct - Earn airline miles from participating airlines, including American, when you open an Airline Rewards checking account
5. Buy or sell a home
Buying a home or selling one can be a hassle, so why not get some miles thrown your way to relieve some of the stress? If you sign up to use the services of real estate agents from American HomeMiles, you will earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles when you buy or a sell home valued at $250,000 or more or complete a state-to-state move using Allied or North American Van Lines.
6. Take a survey
Offering your opinions online is another easy way to watch your miles pile up. OpinionMilesClub offers a shot at earning United MileagePlus miles while e-Miles lets you earn miles that can be used towards flights aboard American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Alaska Airlines - all for spending a few minutes of your time taking surveys.
7. Become a RewardsNetwork member
RewardsNetwork is an online portal you can use to earn miles, points, or cash back when you dine out. You link your credit or debit card to the program, and when you eat at a partner restaurant, you can earn miles with a number of frequent flyer programs, including Delta SkyMiles, United MileagePlus, and FreeSpirit.
8. Start a website
If you've been thinking of starting your own blog or website, Network Solutions will dole out the miles if you use their services to register a domain or set up an online store. The company partners with the following frequent flyer programs:
- Delta SkyMiles
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- United MileagePlus
9. Enjoy a day at the spa
Earning airline miles while you unwind at the spa seems too good to be true, but it can be a reality when you purchase gift cards through gifting company SpaFinder. Here's a rundown of the deals currently available for SpaFinder purchases:
10. Turn a hotel stay into a free flight
Hotel loyalty programs are similar to frequent flyer programs - you get rewarded with points when you stay at a particular hotel. The following hotel travel programs will give you miles or let you convert hotel points into miles with selected airline partners:
- Choice Privileges - Participating airlines include Southwest, United, and American
- Hilton HHonors - Partners include Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines, and IcelandAir
- Hyatt Gold Passport - Earn miles that you can redeem aboard partner airlines, such as United, British Airways, and Korean Air
- IHG Rewards Club - Redeem points for miles with participating airlines
- Marriott Rewards - Earn miles with more than 40 partner airlines
11. Open a brokerage account with Fidelity
Frequent travelers who are into playing the market can earn miles when they open a non-retirement brokerage account through Fidelity. The more cash you deposit, the more miles you can earn. Here's what some of the top airlines currently offer:
- United - Earn up to 50,000 MileagePlus points for a new account
- Delta - Earn up to 50,000 SkyMiles
- American Airlines - Earn up to 50,000 AAdvantage miles
12. Protect your credit
Protect yourself against identity theft or your credit can take a hit. LifeLock helps you do that while also adding to your miles coffers. American Airlines AAdvantage members can get up to 7,000 bonus miles when they sign up for a LifeLock account, not to mention a 10% discount off the membership price. The bonus increases to 10,000 miles for MileagePlus members, along with the 10% discount on service.
13. Drive someone to the airport
Giving someone a lift to the airport can help you get a jump on the number of miles you're earning. PreFlight Airport Parking pays you one mile for every $1 you spend on parking, regardless of whether you're actually catching a flight. Those miles can be redeemed for your next trip aboard American or United Airlines.
14. Order flowers
If you like fresh flowers or you enjoy sharing them with someone else, American Airlines has three ways for you to earn miles towards free flights. Purchase flowers through Teleflora, FTD or 1-800-Flowers.com, and you'll get AAdvantage miles on every order.
- United members earn 20 miles per $1 when they shop FTD.com
- Delta has a similar offer with FTD
- Southwest offers 1,000 Rapid Rewards points for every order of $29.99 or more at 1-800-Flowers
- Frontier Airlines offer 10 EarlyReturns miles for every $1 spent at Teleflora
15. Switch from cable to satellite TV
DirecTV has two bonus mile offers for fans of American and United Airlines. When you set up new DirecTV service with a 24-month commitment, you can get 25,000 miles. You'll just need to provide your frequent flyer program account number when you sign up.
If you prefer Dish Network instead, Southwest offers 12,500 Rapid Rewards points when you sign up for new service.
16. Subscribe to your favorite magazines
Frequent readers can satisfy their need for news and earn miles at the same time. American Airlines is just one airline that pays miles to members who purchase magazine or newspaper subscriptions online.
- Earn up to 3,200 SkyMiles when you subscribe to selected magazines through Delta
- Take advantage of a similar offer from United
- Earn Rapid Rewards points when you subscribe through Southwest Airlines
17. Give back to charity
Donating money to a deserving non-profit is a great way to do something good - and you'll also get something back. The Susan G. Komen organization partners with American Airlines to let AAdvantage members earn miles on cash donations of $25 or more.
18. Do your taxes
Nobody likes tax season, but earning rewards towards free airfare is a good motivator to get your return in early. TurboTax offers 1,000 points that can be used for flights on Southwest Airlines when you file your return through its Rapid Rewards shopping portal.
19. Buy your way to more miles
Some airlines will reward you with extra miles when you purchase miles through their frequent flyer program. American Airlines, Delta, and United routinely run promotions to encourage frequent flyer program members to stock up on miles.
20. Book a rental car
American Airlines offers bonus AAdvantage miles to members who book a car rental through Avis or Budget. To make the deal even sweeter, you can also get a discount on your rental car reservation.
- Earn miles through Delta partners, including Hertz, Alamo, and National Car Rental
- Earn MileagePlus miles when you book a rental car through Delta with Hertz, Thrifty, or Dollar Rent A Car
- Get Rapids Rewards points when you reserve a car with one of eight partners, including Avis, National, and Budget
21. Catch a ride with Zipcar
Zipcar is a car-sharing service that operates as an alternative to a traditional car rental. Zipcar covers your gas and insurance in exchange for a membership fee. If you belong to the United MileagePlus program, you can earn 1,500 bonus miles when you sign up and take your first ride. Zipcar also partners with JetBlue, and you can get 500 TrueBlue points when you join.
22. Pay your electric bills
Earn airline mile points doing the everyday mundane things like paying electric bills. This is only for residents of certain states, but many airlines are partnered with electric companies to award you points for switching over to a new electric supplier and paying the bills.
- Earn Southwest Rapid Reward points when you sign up with Energy Plus, Reliant, or Everything Energy.
- Earn United MileagePlus points when you sign up with Energy Plus, Reliant, or Everything Energy.
- Earn Virgin American air miles when you sign up with Energy Plus.
- Earn Jetblue TrueBlue points when you sign up with Energy Plus.
- Earn Delta SkyMiles when you sign up with Energy Plus.
- Earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles when you sign up with Everything Energy, Reliant, Gexa Energy, NRG Home, or NRG Home Solar.
Be sure to check if your state is included in these offers.
23. Check out an event
To finish up, we've got one last option for earning miles if you belong to the United MileagePlus program. Members who purchase theater, concert, or sporting event tickets through ScoreBig can earn up to 10,000 miles when they buy two or more tickets, plus an additional 1,000 bonus miles on their first purchase.
As you can see, earning airline miles without actually flying isn't as hard as you might think. Just be sure that if you're making a purchase to earn miles using any of the methods we've outlined here, the amount of rewards you're getting in return justifies the cost. In other words, don't buy things if the sole reason you're doing so is to earn miles.
Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped travelers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.