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5 Ways to Collect Miles Other Than Sign-Up Bonuses

5 Ways to Collect Miles Other Than Sign-Up Bonuses

Million Mile Secrets5 Ways to Collect Miles Other Than Sign-Up BonusesMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Million Mile secrets reader, Amol, emailed:

I am an occasional business traveler.  I have yet to collect enough points to redeem for award travel.  Do you need to travel more frequently to make use of award miles?

And reader Marie, commented:

Do you have tips for someone wanting to book award travel, but doesn’t have credit cards that earn miles?  I travel internationally at least 3 to 5 times a year in addition to domestic travel.

Great questions!

The easiest and fastest way to get enough frequent flyer miles for award travel is to sign-up for credit cards with big bonuses.

But some folks like to get their feet wet with award travel before jumping into collecting credit card miles & points.

If you’re like readers Amol and Marie, you might have a few miles saved up from paid travel, but not enough to book your next trip.  Although it helps, you don’t have to fly more frequently or get new credit cards to collect enough miles for an award flight.

Collect Miles Without Credit Cards
Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses Are the Easiest Way to Earn Miles for Award Travel. But There Are Many Other Ways to Save Miles to Book a Trip!

I’ll share 5 ways you can collect miles other than sign-up bonuses!

Earn Miles for an Award Flight

Link:   Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points

Link:   Which Miles & Points Should You Collect for Award Flights?

If you’re an occasional flyer, here are a few ideas and strategies besides credit card sign-up bonuses that can help you get your next award flight!

1.   Paid Travel

Link:   Airline Loyalty Program Sign-Up

Link:   Don’t Waste Miles Flown on Other Airlines – Credit Them to Your Favorite Frequent Flyer Program!

Readers Amol and Marie mentioned they travel a few times each year, both domestically and internationally.

To make the most of occasional paid flights, I always recommend folks credit the miles to their favorite frequent flyer program.

You’d be surprised how only 1 or 2 paid flights on an airline might earn you enough miles for an award flight on a partner airline.

Collect Miles Without Credit Cards
Credit Miles From a Paid Flight to a Partner Airline and You Might Have Enough Miles or Points for Your Next Award Flight

For example, Million Mile Secrets team member Keith booked a paid Emirates flight, but credited the miles to his JetBlue account.  This earned him almost 6,000 JetBlue points, which is enough for a short award flight!

2.   Shopping Portals

Link:   Loyalty Program Shopping Portals

Before you make your next online purchase, consider using an airline shopping portal!  This is a good way to earn extra miles on a purchase you were planning anyway!

Team member Harlan recently earned 500 Alaska Airlines miles this way.  It’s not a ton of miles, but it can add up throughout the year.  Especially if it’s a supplement to miles you earned with the airline through paid travel.

Collect Miles Without Credit Cards
United Airlines Has a Terrific Shopping App, Which Awards Miles on Electronic Gift Card Purchases at Popular Merchants

If you want to earn extra United Airlines miles, the United MileagePlus X is an app for Apple and Android devices that offers electronic gift cards for dozens of merchants, including physical and online retailers, restaurants, and services.  You can purchase these gift cards while you’re checking out at a store or online so you know the specific amount you need.

Sometimes you can earn up to 5 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend!

3.   Dining Programs

Link:   Rewards Network

If you love food like I do, you might find yourself dining out a lot.  And this is an easy way to earn lots of extra miles!

Just register your credit cards with dining rewards programs and you’ll automatically get miles in your frequent flyer account when you use your card at their 11,000+ restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Collect Miles Without Credit Cards
Collect Airline Miles by Linking Your Credit Card to a Dining Rewards Program, Which Includes 11,000+ Locations

4.   Hotel Stays

Link:   How to Earn Airline Miles on Discounted Hotel Stays With Rocketmiles

You can earn airline miles when you book hotel stays through sites like PointsHound or Rocketmiles.  It’s possible to earn up to 5,000 miles per night or more if there’s a special promotion.

And you have a selection of different frequent flyer programs to choose from when booking.  For example, if you’re just shy of the number of points required for a United Airlines award flight, using Rocketmiles to book a hotel stay might help top off your account.

Collect Miles Without Credit Cards
Booking a Hotel Stay Through Sites Like Rocketmiles Can Help You Earn Thousands of Airline Miles!

But always shop around to make sure you’re getting the best hotel prices.  While it’s nice to earn airline miles, it won’t be worth paying a lot extra for a hotel stay just to get them.

5.   Buy Points

Many airlines sell miles directly on their websites.  Typically, it’s NOT a good deal to purchase airline miles.  Because you can accumulate airline miles other ways without the out-of-pocket expense.

But sometimes airlines offer promotions that make purchasing miles worthwhile.  For example, last month United Airlines had a targeted offer to earn up to a 100% bonus on mileage purchases.

Depending on the promotion, purchasing miles could be cheaper than paying cash for a flight.  Or sometimes you just need to buy a few miles to top-up your account and have enough miles for an award flight.

Quickly Earn Lots of Miles With Sign-Up Bonuses

Link:   11 Credit Card Myths That Could Be Holding You Back From Big Travel

If you have an award travel goal in mind, the quickest way to boost your miles balance is by signing-up for credit cards with big bonuses.

Collect Miles Without Credit Cards
A New Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Is the Easiest Way to Get Big Travel!

For example, you can earn 50,000 American Airlines miles with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard after meeting spending requirements.  That’s more than enough for a round-trip coach award flight to Hawaii!

Or get the Bank of America Alaska Airlines card and earn 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles and a $100 statement credit after meeting spending requirements.  You could use the miles for a one-way coach award flight to Asia.

Lots of folks have misconceptions about credit cards.  I’d recommend reading my post about several credit card myths that might be holding you back from Big Travel!

Bottom Line

You don’t have to be an everyday business flyer to earn enough miles for award travel.  And there are ways to collect miles without credit card sign-up bonuses.

For example, combine miles you earn from paid flights with miles from shopping online through airline portals or miles earned by booking hotel stays through sites like Rocketmiles.

But signing-up for credit cards with big bonuses is the easiest and quickest way to get enough miles for a trip.  Just 1 bonus can get you Big Travel, like a round-trip flight to Hawaii or a one-way flight to Asia.

What are your favorite ways to earn airline miles besides credit card sign-up bonuses?

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I’ve recently been taking advantage of the shopping portals. Nice way to pad your points a little at a time.

You never mentioned manufactured spending anywhere in the article. I think this is one of the best ways to collect points other than signup bonuses.

It’s also important to make sure that you are using the card with the highest percent back whenever you make any purchase. Some cards give extra points back for dining, travel, office supply store purchases, etc. You can get a lot of points very quickly if you are getting 5X rewards for purchases at office supply stores.

Woot! Thanks again! I’ve never tried it myself, but I heard that rocketmiles presents prices that are substantially above the price at which the hotel itself will sell you a room. Has that been the case, in your experience? Can you share any rocketmiles success stories?

The rates on Rocketmiles are sometimes cheaper or about the same as other discount sites like Travelpony or Kayak. But sometimes they are significantly more expensive. I always recommend shopping around before deciding if paying extra is worth the airline miles you’ll earn.

Good stuff, thanks! For the MileagePlus X app, does it make sense to pay with a particular credit card? For instance, I have the United Club card, does that give me anything extra?

You’ll get 25% bonus miles just by having a Chase United card linked to your MileagePlus X app. But you can still choose to pay with another card and still get the bonus.