How to Eat Meals and Earn Miles

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Next time you’re out to eat, finish all your food and don’t leave any miles on the table!

Here’s how:

  • Sign-up for the free Rewards Network
  • Enter your credit card information
  • Automatically get miles in your frequent flyer account when using your card at 1 of their ~10,000 restaurants, bars, and clubs
How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

After a Big Meal We’re 1 Step Closer to Our Next Trip (and a Nap!)

How It Works

Link:  Rewards Network

Go to Rewards Network and choose your favorite participating airline.

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

Connect Your Credit Card With an Airline to Earn Miles

Now enter your credit card information with that airline’s program.

Every time you use your card at 1 of the eateries in the network, you’ll earn up to 5 miles for every $1 you spend.  

You earn miles on your food, drinks, tax, and tip.

Eat All You Want but Don’t Get Greedy

You can only register a credit card with ONE airline dining program at a time.  I usually register my Chase Sapphire Preferred because it earns 2X miles on travel and dining.

So for example, your registered Chase Sapphire Preferred card will earn you American Airlines miles OR United Airlines miles but NOT both.

For example, if you register your Sapphire Preferred with the American Airlines dining program, but after a week also register it with the United Airlines dining program, you will only earn miles with the last registered program (United Airlines in this example).

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

Your Credit Card Earns Miles With 1 Frequent Flyer Program – Sorry, No Seconds!

But you’re free to register a different card, such as your Chase Freedom or American Express Platinum, with another airline’s program.

I prefer to link all my cards to 1 airline for the greatest impact.

Airline Dining Programs

1.   Alaska Airlines

Link:   Mileage Plan Dining

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

You’ll earn:

  • 1 mile per $2 spent (if you don’t opt-in to receive emails)
  • 3 miles per $1 spent (if you opt-in for emails)
  • 5 miles per $1 spent (after 12 dines a year and you opt-in for emails)

2.   American Airlines

Link:   AAdvantage Dining

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

You’ll earn:

  • 1 mile per $1 spent (if you don’t opt-in to receive emails)
  • 3 miles per $1 spent (if you opt-in for emails)
  • 5 miles per $1 spent (after 12 dines a year and you opt-in for emails)

3.   Delta Airlines

Link:   SkyMiles Dining

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

You’ll earn:

  • 1 mile per $2 spent (if you don’t opt-in to receive emails)
  • 3 miles per $1 spent (if you opt-in for emails)
  • 5 miles per $1 spent (after 12 dines a year and you opt-in for emails)

4.   Southwest Airlines

Link:   Rapid Rewards Dining

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

You’ll earn the following points:

You earn 300 bonus miles after spending $25 in 1 visit in the first 30 days of enrolling and completing a short restaurant review within 30 days of your dine.

5.   United Airlines

Link:   MileagePlus Dining

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

You’ll earn:

  • 1 mile per $2 spent (if you don’t opt-in to receive emails)
  • 3 miles per $1 spent (if you opt-in for emails)
  • 5 miles per $1 spent (after 12 dines a year and you opt-in for emails)

You get 1,000 bonus miles after paying a single $30 tab within 30 days of signing-up and completing a short review.

6.   US Airways

Link:   Dividend Miles Dining

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

You’ll earn:

  • 1 mile per $2 spent (if you don’t opt-in to receive emails)
  • 3 miles per $1 spent (if you opt-in for emails)
  • 5 miles per $1 spent (after 12 dines a year and you opt-in for emails)

Food for Thought

Credit card sign-up bonuses are the fastest way to Big Travel with Small Money but I like to collect every mile along the way – especially when it’s easy!

I probably wouldn’t choose a restaurant just because it earns miles.  But I look at it as getting miles for doing something I’d do anyway.  Okay, I’ll confess.  Many years ago, when I was a business traveler, I would seek out restaurants in strange cities just because they participated in the dining program.

Those restaurants weren’t always the restaurants with the tastiest food, and were sometimes out of the way.  So I soon stopped doing that.  But it is nice to go to a restaurant and to later find out that I earned miles for eating at the restaurant!

There are bars and clubs in the program, so a night out can earn you miles, too.

Just about every type of restaurant is represented.  Here in Austin, I can earn miles at Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, the Thirsty Nickel, and Jack in the Box.  Instead of Jack in the Box, I’d prefer if it were Chick-fil-A!

How To Eat Meals And Earn Miles

I Like Trying New Restaurants So I’ll Treat Emily to Chicken Kiev

Rewards Network allows you to search any city for participating restaurants etc.  Based on the 100+ strong reviews, I might try Russian House Nazdorovye.  (Not all the reviews for every place are positive.  I’m looking at you, Jack in the Box!)

Earning points through Rewards Network keeps your airline’s frequent flyer account active.  Some programs take away all your miles if there’s no activity on your account!  Earning even a few miles will prevent the airlines from resetting your account to zero.

Bottom Line

You can earn up to 5 miles per $1 when you use your enrolled credit cards at participating restaurants and bars in Rewards Network.

I’ve signed-up because it’s a free and easy way to get extra miles.  And I was taught to finish all the miles on my plate!

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

16 Responses to How to Eat Meals and Earn Miles

  1. Great post… seems too easy. So basically just register, never sign in again and get the occasional free miles. Anything i’m missing?

    How do they know that we ate there? Are they accessing data from my CC or are they getting it from the actual restaurant

  2. So, I am currently at the 5pts/$ level with united mileageplus dining. But I’d like to switch over to earning american aadvantage dining. Is it possible to earn 5pts/$ there without reaching the minimum # of dines?

    Seems like it *should* happen since it’s all through rewards network, but don’t know if that’s possible.

  3. Belated welcome to Austin!

  4. I’ve had chicken Kiev in Kiev, don’t bother with it unless you luck chicken stuffed with a cube of butter and fried, no sauce, just butter. That looks Russian tho (which hopefully you are up on your current events, is not Russia quite yet :-)). Other Russian foods are fantastic, just not chicken Kiev!

  5. Very helpful post Daraius….. I often get these R/N dining offers via airlines via email, yet you’ve nicely put them all in one post, with comparisons. Like the United bonus best. (great for keeping a near dormant united account alive too)

  6. I’m not sure if D mentioned this, but sometimes you get bonus miles for your first dine at many of these dining programs. I also get points at Hilton for dining, I will usually register my Hilton card so I can actually double dip. (I’ll earn points for using my card at the restaurant, and also earn points since that card is also registered as part of RN).

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  8. @Ben – Not sure where they get the data, but assuming it is from your credit card company.

    @ Thomas – You have to start from the beginning.

    @Rob P – Thanks!

    @Joe – What Russian foods would you suggest?

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  10. Jerry Mandel

    1. As far as Hilton or IHG. We don’t spend $30 when we eat out. So, no benefit there. 2. Any similar minimum per meal with the airlines? You didn’t mention it.

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  12. I can’t find list of participating restaurants. Do you have to sign up first to see where it is valid?

  13. I love the Rewards Network! The restaurant list is limited, but at least in my town (Minneapolis) there are a lot of casual non-chain restaurants to choose from. My local list runs heavily towards little urban brew pubs, wine bars, and the type of place that serves cleverly named cocktails and upscale bar food. We like this type of restaurant, so we’ve been seeking them out for “first dines” with each new club we join. (Unlike Jerry, we have no problem spending $30 each time!).
    So far we’ve earned over 5,000 miles while trying out fun little restaurants in our neighborhood. What’s not to like?

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