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Switching to a credit card only strategy is perhaps the single most important step for a points and miles collector. It has definitely changed my life around, roughly two years ago now, and has since saved me thousands of dollars annually, while also opening the doors to incredible travel perks that I would’ve never been able to enjoy otherwise. That being said, in addition to putting all of your spending on the right credit card, using airline shopping portals, and collecting miles for paid flights, there are also other methods to boost your earning and, in essence, earn free miles and points.
Earn Free Miles And Points
There are some simple and effective methods to boost your mileage bank without spending a single dollar of your own. The only input that is required is a little bit of research, communication, and maybe patience.
Volunteer To Organize Company Functions
This method is one of the highest rewarding ones, while also requiring the most amount of work (relatively speaking). I recently organized a company Family Readiness Group (FRG) event at the local bowling center. After discussing all the details with my company commander, I coordinated everything with the bowling center, placed the reservation, and paid in advance with my credit card. The charge was $570 and I used my Citi ThankYou Preferred card, because it earns 2x points on dining and entertainment. Unfortunately, I later checked and bowling alleys are excluded from the entertainment category. I should’ve used my Chase Freedom Unlimited card instead, which earns 1.5x points on all purchases. I had actually reached for that card first, but then changed my mind. Either way, I earned 570 Citi ThankYou points for a charge I would be reimbursed for later. Not a bad deal for an hour or two of work.
Pay For Friends/Family
Me and Tina have several friends and family members in Europe. Europeans aren’t as quick to draw a credit card for purchases as we Americans are. I heard several Scandinavian countries have a different mentality, but for the most part, Western Europeans are more fond of cash than plastic. So a parking meter that only accepts credit cards or mobile payments isn’t something they are particularly used to. When her family visits or goes on vacation with us, I tend to pay for everything. I’ll pay for all the food, drinks, rental cars, hotels, and yes, parking meters. Essentially, this turns into a win-win situation for all parties involved. Our guests don’t have to concern themselves with foreign transaction fees or ATM fees, and they don’t end up with an abundance of unused dollar bills at the end of their vacation that they now have to reconvert into euros – again for a fee. Additionally, since I booked the hotels in my name, they get to enjoy military discounts and any potential elite status I hold with that chain, usually landing them a room upgrade. I, in return, earn thousands of miles and/or points. At the end of their vacation, we add everything up, split what needs to be split and they wire the money into my bank account from the comfort of their home. Since I’m a Service Credit Union Checking+ account holder, I also have an IBAN, which is basically a European routing and account number combo, so the transaction is free of charge for both of us. This method can also be applied on a much smaller scale. Taking a trip with a friend? Offer to pay for both tickets and have him/her refund you later. This has the additional benefit of putting you on the same itinerary, which lands you a greater chance of sitting next to each other on the flight. Then simply have him/her pay you back. Or pick up the tab at a restaurant and split the cost later.
Renting a car is a great way to earn free miles
Car rental companies have their own loyalty programs, but are often partnered with airlines and allow you to earn miles with your airline of choice instead. DO NOT DO THIS! There is always a fee involved when choosing an airline loyalty program at a car rental company, which negates any miles earned. Always opt for the company’s native rewards program and work towards that free rental day. However, when browsing an airline’s shopping portal, you may stumble coupon codes for car rental companies that allow you to earn a certain amount of miles per dollar spent at those places, in addition to the points earned with the car rental company’s own loyalty program. For instance, JetBlue currently has a coupon code for Budget and Avis. When applied, you’ll earn 2x TrueBlue points with Budget and 600 TrueBlue points for a 3 day rental with Avis. This type of offer comes at no additional cost, since it’s a coupon. A week long rental can easily cost $250, which would put 500 TrueBlue points into your pocket or more, in addition to points earned with the car rental company itself.
Sure, taking an online survey can be a bit time consuming. But when you’re sipping a complimentary Cafe Americano at an airline lounge in between flights and have stable internet connection because you’re not relying on the airport’s free Wi-Fi, why not make good use of the time and earn some miles? Miles earned vary from survey to survey, but there is literally no easier way to earn free miles on the side. All major domestic carriers have a survey partner. United uses Opinion Miles Club for instance, JetBlue uses Points for Surveys, and Southwest uses E-Miles. There are other survey partners and airlines that use them. A quick Google search with the airline of your choice should reveal them all to you.
Earning points and miles is an ever evolving game. There is never an end point. The key is to be creative and maybe even navigate a little outside of your comfort zone. The rewards are definitely worth it (pun intended!). Anything from completing online surveys to finding coupons on your airline’s website can help significantly boost your mileage account.
How do you earn free miles and points on the side?