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Four ways to earn frequent flyer miles without flying

As our "new normal" keeps changing, here are some new and revised ways for you to earn miles on the ground


As our lives shift amid a global pandemic, issuers, airlines and hotels are ramping up their methods to encourage cardholders to continue spending. Here are some new ways to earn miles while we’re all grounded.

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We are all still grounded, but there are still plenty of ways to earn travel rewards points from the comfort of your living room sofa.

Successful rewards travelers know that most of our travel points are earned from non-travel actions anyway – even when we are normally flying and sleeping in hotels. Many of us don’t maximize these earnings like we should because we don’t have the time to think about the extra click to double-dip on a daily basis. Time is one silver lining of being stuck at home.

Secondly, many other businesses – like our favorite airlines, hotels and credit card banks – have had to pivot over the last two months and find ways to engage and serve us as their customers. This actually benefits us in the way of some new – or at least revised – opportunities for miles-earning.

Here are four new takes on old ways to keep earning miles from home.

See related: Preparing for future travel while trapped inside

Maximize online shopping rewards

Stores are closed, but there are still things we need, and we can still earn points on shopping. The best ways to do this are shopping portals, where you can double-dip on everything that gets delivered to your door. Additionally, you can use your best-earning credit card for all that supermarket spending you’re doing.

Shopping portals are in holiday mode at the moment. Every day, I get a new email about a buying bonus: An extra 500 points for $100 spent or an increase of 3x to 10x bonus points for every dollar spent at a specific store – and these aren’t just random stores.

I’m talking places that sell toilet paper, like Sam’s Club (7x bonus points), BJ’s Wholesale Club (1x bonus point), Rite Aid (3x bonus points), Walgreens (2x bonus points), CVS (1x bonus point) Office Max and Office Depot (2x bonus points), Staples (3x bonus points) and even Home Depot (1x bonus point).

Haven’t used a shopping portal? Take a quick lesson using Southwest’s shopping portal as an example, and you’ll be a pro. Not sure if it’s worth it? I’m not a huge shopper, and I earned 28,635 bonus miles last year.

Earn dining points with local delivery

We aren’t going out to eat, but there are a number of ways you can support your local restaurants while earning points (and getting a night off from cooking).

Dining for Miles is another long-standing, points-earning program that has made a big adaptation for diners, shifting their whole model to highlight restaurant partners for takeout and delivery. Orders are made directly through the local restaurant that participates in the program and you earn a bonus of 3x points per dollar spent (or 5x after completing 12 dines to become a VIP diner).

If you’ve never been part of a dining miles program, it’s a great time to try. And you can get a 1,000-point sign-up bonus (or more) on your first dine (depending which airline you choose). How well this program will work for you will likely depend on where you live.

Your credit cards are also getting on board with some additional takeout and delivery dining deals. Here’s a few I know about:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get up to $120 in DoorDash statement credits – $60 through December 31, 2020, and another $60 the following year. Cardholders also receive up to two years of DashPass for free (normally $9.99 a month).
  • Cardholders for the whole suite of Chase personal cards – Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom* or Chase Freedom Unlimited – earn 5x points when ordering with Door Dash or Tock on up to $500 in combined purchases through May 31.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders can receive up to $15 in monthly Uber credits for delivery with UberEats.
  • American Express® Gold Card holders earn 4x on food delivery and get a up to $10 monthly statement credit for Grubhub, Seamless and Boxed purchases (enrollment required).

See related: Chase offering limited-time bonus on food delivery for some cardholders

Special credit card offers and benefits

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented offers from the airlines, hotels, and banks who still need your business. Over the past few weeks, this has come in the way of extra incentives for you to use your credit cards.

This week, for example, I got an email from American Express letting me know that I’d missed the deadline for the minimum spend on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express I’d recently gotten in January, but they were going to give me an extra 90 days to earn my bonus points. This is a kind of unprecedented I don’t mind!

A few other special offers I’ve seen include:

  • Miles earned on the American AAdvantage Aviator Red Card and the Citi AAdvantage Mastercard now count toward American AAdvantage Million Miler status.
  • From April 15 through June, 30, 2020, World of Hyatt Credit Card holders will earn three qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent, as opposed to two. And if you apply for the card before Jun. 30, 2020, you’ll receive 10 elite night credits (double the usual amount) as part of the welcome bonus.
  • You can get complimentary Air Canada Altitude Prestige status by earning 50,000 miles through Travel at Home activities – including credit card spending, sign-up bonuses or transferring Aeroplan points to a partner like American Express Membership Rewards. If you already have status, the offer lets you level it up.

Keep your eyes peeled for offer emails. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot more of these to come.

Take online surveys

Taking surveys for airline miles has been around forever as a way to earn a small amount of points to keep your miles from expiring.

While it will certainly take you a long time to earn enough points for an Emirates first-class ticket, taking surveys is a great online alternative to spending hours scrolling your Instagram feed. American Miles for Opinions and United Opinion Miles Club are two good options.

So, how are you earning points from home?

*The information for the Chase Freedom card has been collected independently by The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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