Everyone by now has heard of frequent flier programs, those airline loyalty programs that reward travel on a particular brand or group of brands (airline alliance) by doling out points, or “miles,” to be redeemed hopefully in the future for more flights.
Well, that was the intended use and purpose of these programs, but, to what I assume is our benefit, nowadays we can earn frequent flier miles through all kinds of purchases – purchases that have nothing to do with flying. At the same time, most frequent flier programs allow for redemption of miles also on items from equally-disparate categories, such as electronics and concert experiences.
However, in this post we will talk about the former; specifically, we will talk about maximizing airline program miles by shopping and dining.
As I assumed that anybody reading this right now is at least somewhat familiar with the loyalty programs, I’m gonna step out on a limb and also assume that you’ve heard about the activities referred to as shopping and dining. These are things we do everyday, or often enough, and it is also a prime way to bulk up your frequent flier account. For those of you that know about this, use this as a reminder to make certain that your credit cards are updated and so on, and you may leave; for the rest of you, let’s continue.
I’ve woken up with hangovers before, after long Friday-night-turned-Saturday-mornings drinking out in Manhattan with my friends. I’d wake up, head throbbing, throat dry, voice gone, and I would check my cell phone – partly to check for missed calls and texts, and also in part to rip the bandage off of the dreadful anticipation of checking my bank account. Then I would check my email, and what!?!? Though I don’t remember what happened the night before, apparently I had earned almost a thousand miles for drinking and eating; this is always the highlight of my hangover mornings :)
If your airline’s frequent flier program offers an affiliated dining program, this is great news. Without you doing anything extra, you could be earning miles for dining at places that you would have anyway.
These affiliated dining programs are usually run by third parties, not the airline or frequent flier program themselves. The best place to check is with Rewards Network, who handles dining programs for frequent flier programs of American Airlines, Delta, United, and many more. All you need to do is create an account, link it up with your frequent flier member number, and then add all your credit cards/debit cards. Then, each time you dine at a participating restaurant, you get miles/points for your purchase, as long as you paid for it with the linked credit/debit card. Simple, right?
Shopping works the same way. Actually, more airline frequent flier programs have an affiliated shopping program than they do dining. As with the dining, if your loyalty program has a shopping program, you’d simply sign up and associate your frequent flier member number. These shopping programs may be handled directly by the loyalty program, or they could be handled by a third party.
Most of the affiliated shopping programs only offer points/miles for purchases made through their portal; this means that you don’t necessarily have to associate a credit/debit card, but you must instead log in and shop by clicking links from their portal. However, a few shopping programs, such as American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, offer a program that lets members also shop at brick and mortar stores with associated cards.
I, myself, have somehow adapted the way that I shop and dine to earn miles; it’s become a bit of a pastime for me to maximize my miles earned while conducting normal business. These points add up, and it can bolster your miles in your loyalty program to get you to your next reward faster, so don’t miss these opportunities!
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