How to Earn Miles and Points

While credit card sign up bonuses remain the fastest (and easiest) way to earn points, there are other ways to earn points with every day spend.

Pay for everything with the right credit card! Our debit card got booted to the sock drawer the day we received our first rewards credit card and has only been used to get cash out of the ATM in the past 3 years. Which brings me to the next rule: never, ever pay with cash. After meeting the minimum spend, the only cards I use daily are those that earn me more than 1x point per dollar. Know your cards well and what the bonus categories are (remember that spreadsheet I told you to make?).  Also pay for all your monthly expenses with your card. Yes, it’s time consuming in the beginning to switch everything over, but you’ll start to see those point balances creep up every month by doing this.

Sign up for hotel reward programs. Most hotels run quarterly bonus promotions that you must sign up for in order to earn. We have earned a ton of miles by being strategic in where we stay. This summer we signed up for IHG’s Accelerate  promotion and by staying 5 nights in IHG hotel brands during our summer road trip to Yellowstone, we earned over 63,000 bonus points! We never book a paid hotel night without checking the current bonus promotion. Sign up for Loyalty Lobby’s daily emails and never miss a promotion!

Shopping portals -Most airlines and hotels have an online shopping portal where you can earn bonus points just by logging in before heading to your retail site. For example, instead of heading to Target.com directly, I would log in to the eshopping portal of choice using my frequent flier number, search for Target and shop as I normally would. Just by accessing the Target page through the portal, you’ll earn bonus points on any purchase, on top of the points you’ll earn from your credit card. There are hundreds of retailers to choose from (but sadly, no Amazon). Many times the portals will run a bonus promotion that will earn you a few thousand bonus points just for spending X amount of dollars. I’ve earned thousands of points this way.  Before making a purchase over $100 I always check evreward.com or cashbackmonitor.com to see who’s offering the most points per dollar. Start thinking outside of the box when it comes to earning. Anything you can buy in the store, you can earn more miles just by purchasing it through the portal.

Did you know? Have miles expiring? I once let 20k Frontier miles expire because I thought I had to fly to reset my expiration date. Now I know better. Just make a small purchase on the shopping portal from which your miles are expiring and you’ll keep those miles from expiring!

Dining programs: Most airlines and hotels offer a dining program where you register a credit card and earn miles if you eat at participating restaurants. While you can register for more than one program, you must use separate credit cards. Some programs offer a sign up bonus, please click on each link for more details. Register for the program(s) of your choice below:

  • Alaska Airlines– earn up to 5 miles/$; 1000 miles sign up bonus
  • American Airlines-earn up to 5 miles/$; 3000 miles sign up bonus
  • Delta Airlines – earn up to 5/$; 3000 miles sign up bonus
  • JetBlue– earn up to 1 mile/$, 2 miles/$ Mosaic member. No sign up bonus
  • United – earn up to 5 miles/$; 3000 miles sign up bonus
  • Hilton Hotels – earn $5-$8 points/$ based on number of times you dine
  • IHG Hotels – earn $1-$8 points/$ based on membership level

Bonus spend offer from credit cards: Make sure you opt in for emails from your credit card company. We will occasionally receive bonus point offers if we spend X amount of money in X amount of time.

Do you have a creative way to earn points not mentioned here?