15 Creative Ways to Earn More Airline Miles

You're probably familiar with the typical ways to earn rewards—book a flight, make a hotel reservation, or rent a car. But you might be missing out on other easy methods to increase your miles through loyalty programs. Even many frequent flyers, who effortlessly racking up miles on each flight, are unaware of the many loyalty and reward options that lie outside the sky’s domain.

Earning miles can be as easy as paying your bills, treating yourself, using your debit card, or giving a gift. All it takes is a little initiative and research to get you started. Here are 15 of our favorite ways to earn airline miles with both feet on the ground. 

  • 01 of 15

    Sign Up for an Airline Credit Card

    credit and debit cards that are used for rewards
    Image Source

    Airline credit cards can be the best way to earn miles, and using a mileage-earning airline card on all your shopping will allow you to earn at least one mile per dollar for nearly everything. You can also earn bonus points for paying for airfare, adding authorized users, or referring a friend. Check out some of our favorite airline credit cards to see which one is right for you. 

  • 02 of 15

    Sign up for an Airline Dining Program

    As mentioned, you should use your airline credit card on all purchases, including at restaurants but there are other ways to rack up miles when you dine. Each of the major airlines in the U.S. offers a dining program. Simply sign up, link your favorite airline debit card or credit card, and start earning extra points just by stopping at some of your favorite places! Here's where you can find some of the dining programs:

  • 03 of 15

    Shop Through an Airline Shopping Mall

    By skipping the mall and shopping through an airline portal instead, you can earn bonus points at many of the stores you already shop at. Bonuses usually range from two to five miles per dollar spent, but some have been as high as 20 miles per dollar. To get the miles, visit the airline's shopping portal first and then click through to the stores you want to shop at. Using a mileage mall can help you not only complete your shopping list, but also help you get closer to your next trip. 

  • 04 of 15

    See a Broadway Show

    Performance of the Lion King on Broadway
    Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

    Believe it or not, you can earn miles while being entertained. Audience Rewards partnered with two airlines to allow frequent flyer program members to earn miles when booking tickets to hit Broadway productions. It's a win-win—earn miles with a flight to New York City for a Broadway weekend and get bonus miles while seeing the hottest shows.

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  • 05 of 15

    Book a Hotel Room

    Hotel chains sometimes offer you a best price guarantee for using their websites to book your stay, but what if you're more interested in earning miles? Three websites can help you get extra miles for every stay, not just the airline partners. Agoda PointsMAX, PointsHound and RocketMiles offer you extra miles on all of your hotel bookings across a number of partners. 

  • 06 of 15

    Take Advantage of Crossover and Partner Hotel Rewards

    If you are loyal to one hotel program and want to maximize both points and miles, look into crossover programs and airline partner hotel programs. For example, United Airlines partnered with Marriott Rewards to create the RewardsPlus crossover program, earning you double status at both providers and bonus miles on every booking.

    Even if you don't fly with United or stay at Marriott, booking a hotel room through your airline can help you earn miles at your favorite airline. Start by searching each airline website to see all the deals. 

  • 07 of 15

    Book a Rental Car With a Preferred Partner

    car driving through mountains
     darekm101/Getty Images

    If you need a rental car at your destination, start with your airline's website first. If they can't give you a discount on a rental car, they will often offer extra miles for using their link.

  • 08 of 15

    Sign Up for a Mileage Debit Card

    Credit cards aren't the only plastic that earns you extra miles with every swipe. Debit cards are rising as an easy way to add to your mileage balances and can sometimes come with no credit check or fees. With the right combination of accounts and direct deposit, earning miles can be as easy as buying a latte or getting groceries. 

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  • 09 of 15

    Book a Vacation Package

    a cruise ship in the water
    Fuse/Getty Images

    Your airlines aren't just good for getting you from airport to airport—they can also help you book your entire vacation! When you book a vacation package with your favorite air carrier, you not only get a great trip from the experts, but you can also earn big bonus points as well. 

  • 10 of 15

    Pay Bills With Your Airline Credit or Debit Card

    Many bills you pay already, like your cell phone and cable bills, will accept credit cards for payments. For everything else, Plastiq will allow you to pay most bills with your favorite credit cards, earning valuable points and miles in the process. Even though Plastiq charges a 2.5 percent convenience fee, the points you earn may offset the additional charges. 

  • 11 of 15

    Do Business With Preferred Partners

    So you're buying or selling a house, need a new energy provider, or need a personalized gift for your friend or co-worker. Start by shopping at your favorite airlines.

    Yes, even shopping for home needs or banking products can earn you extra miles. All of the airlines have preferred partners, each of which offers extra miles for choosing them first and foremost. The offers range from earning 10,000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards points for enrolling in a new energy program, to 10,000 American AAdvantage miles for every $10,000 of a home price for buying or selling a home. 

  • 12 of 15

    Send Flowers to Loved Ones

    psovart/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Give flowers, brighten somebody's days, and get miles - it's really that easy! Sending flowers is probably one of the biggest bangs for your loyalty buck, because they often offer the most miles for your loyalty. Most major American airlines partner with national florist networks like 1-800-Flowers, FTD and Teleflora to earn your business.

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  • 13 of 15

    Join a Monthly Wine Club

    thed34n/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Raise a new glass every month to old friends and new adventures with all your miles. Frequent flyers can sample new wines every month and earn extra points and miles for every purchase. You will get a bonus when you sign up for the program, along with bonus miles when you buy wine from the program.

  • 14 of 15

    Take a Survey

    Everyone has an opinion, and big companies want them to shape the future of their products. They are willing to pay to hear what you have to say in the form of miles. Using a program like eMiles or e-Rewards  customers can accrue miles in exchange for sharing their experiences and opinions by completing surveys. Those miles can then be transferred to some of their favorite programs, including Hilton Honors and Southwest Rapid Rewards. 

  • 15 of 15

    Transfer Your Points

    Finally, if you need a little extra points to get to your next vacation, why not use some of the points you already have? If you are earning American Express Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can easily convert those to your favorite rewards programs. Even if you don't use those rewards programs, you can often transfer hotel points to your favorite airlines. For example, Marriott Rewards points can often be converted to your favorite frequent flyer programs. 

Since loyalty programs are not one-size-fits-all, it's important to find ways you can earn loyalty points that are tailored to your lifestyle and preferences. Don't be afraid to take this idea and run with it—many frequent flyers have created opportunities to earn rewards in unique and creative ways!