This is the twelfth and final post on earning miles and points. Check out my intro post on the topic, “How to Travel Hack your way Around the World.”
While credit card sign up bonuses and banking represent the easiest way to collect miles and points, there are any number of ways one can earn miles and points on a daily basis.
Below is a list of different ways to earn miles and points, along with links to additional information.
Earning miles from online purchases is one of the easiest things you can do to earn extra miles on a daily basis.
Buying flowers for Mother’s Day? Earn 30x AAdvantage miles or United Miles per dollar spent, by shopping through American Airlines or United’s shopping site.
Next time you need to buy something online, I highly recommend using sites like evreward to determine how to get the most bang for your buck when shopping online.
Car Rentals & Hotel Stays
Renting a car, or staying at a hotel can often earn you airline miles or hotel points in addition to points you’d normally earn. Be careful, however, as some car rental companies will charge you more money if you use a hotel or airline promotional code.
Frequentflyerbonuses has aggregated a ton of data on bonus offers for just about everything.
Earn miles or points by registering for affiliated dining programs. Register a credit card and earn bonus miles by eating at one of the many restaurants in the Dining Program. There’s usually some sort of bonus when you initially sign-up, e.g. earn 1000 extra miles by spending $30 at one restaurant in the first 30 days.
This is an easy way to earn miles & points, but personally I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat at any of the participating restaurants unless it was a place I wanted to eat at any way. It does stack well with other offers, however, like American Express’s Small Business Saturday.
The Points Guy has a great breakdown of the current dining programs.
The following are additional ways to earn miles and points. These are extremely *hardcore* techniques, and I would spend a decent amount of time researching how they work, if you’re at all interested in the black arts of travel hacking. Be warned, they involve a lot more effort than the methods I’ve outlined above, and can involve a decent amount of risk.
This technique involves clicking through a shopping portal once to buy gift cards, then going through a second time with those gift cards to buy what you really want.
Mrs. Selfish and I have tried this a few times with some success, but if you’re really interested in how this works, please do yourself a favor and check out the Frequent Miler, who is the authority on the subject.
Gift Card Churning
Not to be confused with double dipping, gift card churning is a very labor-intensive way to earn extra miles and points. The basic principle involves buying gift cards through a cash-back portal with a miles or points earning credit card, then selling the card through a third party site. You earn miles and points when purchasing the gift card, and hopefully sell the gift card at a small loss or, even better, a small gain.
Again, the Frequent Miler is probably the best authority on the subject.
Simply put, this involves making purchases to earn miles or points while spending little to no actual money. Some techniques involve buying large value gift cards ($500+), depositing the money into a debit account like Bluebird, then use the gift card money to pay off the credit card bill. These techniques get shut down frequently, but seem to spring up just as frequently, thanks to ingenious travel hackers.
Other techniques involve using free-after-rebate purchases to help meet minimum spend, or to rack up spend in a bonus category.
This technique has become so useful in the last year that Flyertalk has opened a new forum to handle the topic.
Does anyone have any additional techniques? If you have any tools or tips (especially ones that work while traveling), we’d love to hear them!