Earning points to begin traveling again can be done in a number of ways that don’t necessarily begin with hopping on a plane. Even if you are new to collecting points for travel, you can accumulate enough now to pay for your next big vacation. Whether it’s through credit cards, shopping, or something that requires no spending at all, these are the best ways to earn points and miles to travel for less in 2021.
1. Sign Up For A Loyalty Program
It sounds obvious, but this is something that needs to be said. Many people buy flights, book hotel rooms, and rent cars while never bothering to sign up for the associated loyalty program. Most of the time, they truly don’t understand what they are missing out on!
Most popular rewards programs are free to join. The only cost to you is a few minutes of your time setting up your loyalty account. After that, all you need to do is have your frequent flyer number on hand when you book in order to earn miles. If you never use them, you won’t miss those few minutes of your time you took to set up an account. If you do use them, you’ll be thanking yourself!
2. Opening Up A Cobranded Credit Card With An Airline
The benefits of having a cobranded credit card are greatest when you first open your account. Thanks to bonus point offers, which are notably generous right now, you could accumulate enough points to cover a flight (or two) in just a few months.
For example, let’s take a look at one of United Airlines’ cobranded credit cards. As part of a limited time promotion, the United Explorer Card is offering up to 70,000 bonus miles. Cardholders will qualify for 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, and an additional 10,000 bonus miles with a total of $6,000 in purchases for the first 6 months. So, all you really need to do to earn the bulk of the bonus miles within 3 months is spend the $3,000 on the card.
For reference, a roundtrip Economy class flight from New York to Belgium in June will cost you 30k miles + $5.90. With this current offer, you could take two of those trips.
The United Explorer Card offers dozens of other benefits, including a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit, a free checked bag on every flight, 2 United Club passes per year, and much more. The current us offer is enough reason to get started if you don’t already use an airline’s cobranded card to earn miles.
3. Opening Up A Cobranded Credit Card With A Hotel
Hotel loyalty programs offer bonus points with their cobranded credit cards as well. Let’s take a look at Hilton Honors’ most basic credit card, the Hilton Honors Card. Currently, members can earn 100,000 bonus points by opening an account and spending $1,000 within the first 3 months.
To put things in perspective, a standard room at the Hilton Chicago/Magnificent Mile Suites costs 26,000 points per night. The bonus points alone could help cover a weekend-long stay at this hotel. On the other end, a suite at the all-inclusive Hilton Playa del Carmen resort runs for 123,000 points per night.
4. Buying Groceries
Buying groceries is something we all do. But are you making sure you earn points and miles with your weekly shopping trips? Currently, many cobranded credit cards are offering points at a much higher rate for money spent at grocery stores.
Let’s go back to that Hilton Honors Card. At this time, cardholders can earn 5x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases made at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants. This is money that you are probably already spending, and depending on the form of payment you use, you’re potentially not getting any benefits from it.
5. Eating At Restaurants
By linking your credit card to a frequent flyer plan’s dining program, you can earn tons of points and miles without even realizing it. Every time you charge your card to a participating restaurant, you will automatically earn points based on your purchase.
Although you can use a cobranded credit card for possible additional benefits, you don’t necessarily have to. Most loyalty dining programs allow you to link any one of your cards.
Let’s look at the Free Spirit Dining Program. It’s free to join and encompasses over 10,000 restaurants, bars, and clubs. If you choose to link your credit card, you can earn 5x miles for every $1 spent at participating locations.
6. Rent A Car
Many people have opted for road trips instead of air travel, due to the socially distanced nature of it. To avoid putting miles on your own vehicle, you can rent a car and earn points toward future car rentals as well as hotels and flights. That’s because many car rental companies have airline and hotel partners.
For example, Budget Car Rental has a partnership with many popular hotel and airline rewards programs, including American Airlines, Hilton, Best Western, Hyatt Hotels, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and more. Therefore, renting a car can help you earn points and miles across various programs.
7. Online Shopping
Check out your airline loyalty program’s website to see if there is a shopping portal you can access. All major carriers have one, and many people continue to spend money online without racking up those valuable miles.
United’s shopping portal, for example, MileagePlus Shopping is full of websites you probably already shop. Members can earn up to 6 miles per $1 spent, depending on the participating location. Get credit for all the money you spend online, and soon enough you’ll be taking a vacation.
Flying in itself will obviously earn you miles to use toward future travel. Make sure you are booking all of your flights with the airline’s cobranded credit card, so you can earn additional miles. For example, at United, you get 2 miles per $1 spent on a flight. Any additional money spent on the card in-flight will earn you the same double miles
9. Charge Your Business Expenses To Your Cobranded Credit Card
Hotels and airlines offer you many, many options when it comes to choosing a credit card. Although most people go with the basic choices, business owners are at more of an advantage.
Let’s take a look at the United Business Card, for example. This card is offering 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening. An offer that is practically the same as their personal credit card welcoming offer that we discussed above.
However, spending is where business cardholders have the potential to earn more. You have the option to add employee cards at no additional cost, allowing you to accumulate miles from their purchases. It’s time to start getting the most out of your business expenses in addition to your personal expenses.
10. Take Surveys
Yes, there is a way to earn miles from home without spending a dime. Taking surveys is a completely free way to accumulate miles for future travel.
With United Airlines, you can join the Opinion Miles Club to begin taking surveys and earning miles. Members will earn at least 300 miles for joining and completing their first survey. It’s completely free to join, the only cost to you is your time and opinion. Plus, all miles gained are automatically deposited into your MileagePlus account.
United is not the only airline with a survey program. You can do a quick Google search to access your favorite airline’s survey website.
Check out our Guide on points