Earning credit cards travel rewards can be an extremely lucrative hobby. I call it a “hobby”, because I think it easily falls into the same category as collecting stamps, comic books, or currency. It is, in fact, a quasi-currency. But the truth is that it requires a healthy dose of discipline and financial literacy – or at least some financial awareness. In addition, a sub-650 credit score will usually disqualify you from even entry level rewards credit cards. As an avid points collector, I obviously try to convert as many people over to credit card only spending as possible. Unfortunately, I all too often hear one of three things: “I have to pay down (by “down” I hope they mean off!) existing credit card debt”, “I have to raise my credit score”, or “I’ve had bad experiences with credit cards and I don’t trust myself with them”. Obviously, these are all valid reasons not to open a new credit card account at that time and the only other “traditional” method to acquire rewards points is to actually travel – which can be a slow process for the occasional traveler. Fortunately, there are alternatives, some of which I had already addressed in previous articles.
Earn Miles Without Credit Cards And Without Flying
Plenti is a relatively new rewards program. It’s completely free and seems to be a direct copy of the European Payback system. Plenti is still somewhat in its infancy and isn’t as established as its European counterpart, and that’s a good thing. To earn Plenti points, just shop at any participating retailer and scan your membership card during checkout. There are already over a dozen participating retailers, making the earning process very easy, and in some cases – such as with Hulu for instance – automatic. You can also earn points by shopping the Plenti marketplace. You then redeem points to save money at checkout. 1,000 Plenti points equal $10.
I know, this has absolutely nothing to do with travel. But rewards programs change constantly and, given that the Plenti program is not so dissimilar from Payback (both are also partnered with Amex), it’s not far-fetched that Plenti will follow suit and offer actual products or miles for redemption. Payback points are 1:1 transferrable to Lufthansa Miles & More, making the Amex Payback co-branded credit card one of the best rewards cards in Europe. As of now, we can only wait and see what happens to Plenti. At the moment, it’s a rather lackluster rewards program, but that means it has great potential to grow.
Airline Dining Programs
Almost every major US airline has a dining program. These programs are free to use and also very easy. Just sign up with your airline frequent flyer number, enter up to five debit/credit card numbers and automatically earn miles when using any of the cards at a participating restaurant. It’s literally “fire and forget” and so simple that it almost doesn’t make sense not to enroll in an airline dining program.
Keep in mind that you can only use any given debit/credit card with one airline dining program at a time, as they are all linked.
Amazon and JetBlue TrueBlue
I’ve recently released an article describing how to earn TrueBlue points (JetBlue call them points, not miles) simply by shopping on Amazon, so I will not beat a dead horse. Basically, use the TrueBlue portal to shop Amazon and automatically earn 3x TrueBlue points. JetBlue has one of the most highly regarded frequent flyer programs and a world class premium cabin, called Mint. If you are an Amazon regular, it is very plausible to rack up enough points for an award flight in a fairly short amount of time.
If you are not an Amazon Prime member and are considering it, act fast. You’ll earn 3,000 TrueBlue points for signing up before 08 May 2017.
Mileage Plus X
I’ve written several times about this program and for good reason: It’s free and easy! The only reason I do not currently use it is because I earn 5x points at supermarkets and pharmacies this quarter with my Chase Freedom card and I value Ultimate Rewards points higher than Mileage Plus miles – in part because the latter is actually a transfer partner of the former. Most supermarkets sell gift cards, so I buy them there. But this article is about earning rewards points without the use of credit cards or flying and you can use this app with a regular debit card if you like. However, you will likely not be “double dipping” on points by using a debit card.
Opening up a slew of new credit card accounts each year is not for everyone. While this practice has helped me increase my personal credit score from the 750s to over 800 in under a year, it does take a certain level of discipline when handling credit cards. Responsible credit card use is usually not taught in high schools, so it’s mostly up to us to teach ourselves and set the example for generations to come. In the meantime, not being credit card savvy, or simply not trusting them, does not have stop you from earning rewards that could ease the financial burden of traveling. These are just a few examples of how to earn miles without credit cards or actual travel. There are also surveys, shopping portals, and more.
How do you earn miles without credit cards or travel?