24 Ways You Didn’t Know You Could Earn Airline Miles

Most people assume you can only earn miles and points by flying with an airline, but that is far from the case. There are many different ways to accrue miles for free flights, ranging from everyday purchases to financing a mortgage to booking an Airbnb.

Hire a dog walker

Whether you need someone to walk your dog while you’re at work or to care for your pet when you’re traveling, if you book through Rover and are new to the service, you can earn American AAdvantage miles. Score 2,000 miles after your first Rover walk or stay and then one mile for every dollar spent with Rover going forward.

Pay your taxes

Lessen the pain of paying taxes by earning airline miles that you can use for free flights. Zac Hood of Travel Freely, a free system to help manage credit cards, pays his taxes with a credit card that earns miles. (Keep in mind that some credit cards charge annual fees for the ability to earn miles.)

“I love knowing I can use my credit card to pay my annual or quarterly taxes for a 1.9- to 2-percent fee,” Hood says. “If I see a great credit card with a good sign-up bonus that I wouldn’t normally reach with my regular spending, I can pay that small fee and get tens of thousands of miles towards free flights.” Check out more great travel secrets to always get the best airfare possible.

Hire a Lyft

Scott Lieberman, managing editor of Million Mile Secrets, a website that helps readers collect and use miles and points for free travel, shares that he’s been earning Delta SkyMiles on all of his Lyft rides. “It took 30 seconds to link my accounts,” Lieberman says. Link your Lyft and Delta SkyMiles accounts to earn one mile per dollar spent and two miles per dollar for a limited time on all airport rides.

JetBlue also allows its frequent flyer members to earn points through Lyft. Earn 750 points when you first connect your Lyft and JetBlue accounts and then 30 points for each trip to and from the airport up to 1,200 points a year.

Make a donation

Several airlines let you earn points or miles when you make a donation to specific causes. For example, you can earn ten American AAdvantage miles for every dollar you donate to Stand up to Cancer.

Connect your utilities

Delta, American, and Southwest work with specific utility companies to allow you to earn miles and points by opening accounts with them, and some allow you to earn for each dollar you spend.

Book an Airbnb

If you’re staying at an Airbnb home or vacation rental when traveling—say, the most popular one in your state—you might as well earn miles at the same time. Delta has partnered with Airbnb to allow SkyMiles members to earn one mile per dollar spent on all Airbnb rentals worldwide.

You can also earn 20,000 points with Australian airline Qantas for both listing your home with Airbnb and booking an Airbnb rental, as well as earn points for Airbnb bookings through Japanese airline ANA.

Black and grey pillows on pink bed in pastel bedroom interior with palm and lamp. Real photoPhotographee.eu/ShutterstockBuy gift cards

There are several rewards credit cards that allow you to earn miles or points for expenditures at specific types of stores, such as office supply stores. (Many charge an annual fee.)

“One easy trick I love is using a rewards card that earns 5x points at office supply stores to buy Amazon gift cards,” Hood explains. “Then I load that gift card to my Amazon account, and I essentially get 5x points on all purchases on Amazon!” Hood then transfers those points to airline partners to book free flights.

Learn a language

Many major U.S. airlines offer online shopping portals that let you earn miles and points. With Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program, United’s Mileage Plus, or American’s AAdvantage program, you can sign up for Babbel, a language-learning app. You’ll net between 400 and 1,200 miles or points and be better prepared for your next trip abroad. Find out what the cheapest days to fly in 2019 are.

Get a babysitter

Another option to earn a flat number of points on some airline shopping portals is SitterCity.com, an online service that helps parents find trusted babysitters. You can earn 550 to 750 miles or points when you sign up for a new premium membership through the Southwest’s Rapid Rewards, the American AAdvantage eShopping portal, as well as some other airline portals.

Open a bank account

Both Delta and American partner with banks to allow loyalty members to earn miles and points both for opening accounts and on monthly expenditures, though there may be fees required to hold these accounts. Delta partners with SunTrust, while American partners with BankDirect.

Ride Amtrak

Fly United and make a connection at Newark Liberty International Airport to or from Amtrak’s New Haven Rail Station, Connecticut; Stamford Rail Station, Connecticut; Philadelphia 30th Street Station; or Wilmington Rail Station, Delaware to earn miles.

Shop in store

United and Alaska Airlines are unique in that they allow you to earn points when you shop in select stores, including Ann Taylor and Modell’s Sporting Goods. With United, link any debit or credit card you would use to pay for a purchase at these stores to your MileagePlus account to automatically earn between 1.5 and four miles for every dollar you spend. To take advantage of Alaska’s program, load specific deals to a particular card and then pay with that card at the store. Plus, if you’re a Costco shopper, these are the best travel packages you can only get through Costco.

Mockup of white paper shopping bag. Attractive girl doing shopping in shopping mall. Space for your logo or design. Blurred shop window on the backgroundMakarovada/ShutterstockPurchase a magazine subscription

For Southwest, use DiscountMags.com on the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal to earn up to 20 points per dollar spent. On the American Airlines eShopping portal, earn up to 1,100 miles with a subscription to The Economist and 1,000 miles with a subscription to The Wall Street Journal. The Delta SkyMiles Shopping portal grants you nine miles for every dollar spent with Magazines.com, and many other airlines offer varying subscription deals, as well. Be sure to read the fine print for any limitations and restrictions.

Finance a mortgage

You can even earn miles by financing a mortgage with specific companies that partner with airlines and banks. American Airlines partners with SIRVA, allowing you to rack up 1,250 miles for every $10,000 financed, while Chase allows you to earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to many airlines on a qualifying mortgage.

Borrow money or refinance a loan

Many airlines have partnerships with lenders, allowing you to earn miles or points when you apply for a new loan or refinance an existing one. For example, United awards you two miles for every dollar you borrow with LendingClub or a flat total of 25,000 miles when you close a loan with QuickenLoans. What’s more, you can refinance a student loan with SoFi and earn either Alaska miles or Southwest points. Do you know the signs you’re paying too much for airfare?

Pump gas

Southwest flyers can earn points for pumping gas at Marathon stations through the Make It Count program. Earn one point for every gallon of gas you pump and some points for in-store purchases.

Book a travel experience

Book a tour or buy a ticket to a concert, cooking class, amusement park, or other event or attraction through Southwest Airlines’ Experiences site. The number of points earned for each “experience” purchased varies.

Book a hotel

Most major U.S. airlines have their own hotel booking websites, including American, Alaska, and Southwest, that allow you to earn up to 10,000 miles or points per night when you book rooms through the site at select hotels. Keep in mind you do forfeit the ability to earn hotel loyalty points when you book through airline hotel booking sites.

man hotel room relax laptopLightField Studios/ShutterstockAnswer surveys

David Streisand of the Wise Flys YouTube channel, which is about earning miles and points for travel, likes to earn free miles by filling out surveys through companies who partner with various airlines. “It does take some time, but it can be a unique way to pad the miles account,” he says. Southwest Airlines works with both eRewards and Rewards for Opinions to allow its Rapid Rewards members to earn additional points, while United works with Opinion Miles Club and British Airways works with Rewards for Thoughts. Find out some more amazing travel point perks you didn’t know existed.

Eat out

Many U.S. airlines offer programs that allow you to link your debit and credit cards and earn miles or points when eating at participating restaurants, which tend to be locally-owned businesses instead of larger chains. For example, with the United MileagePlus Dining program, you can earn 1,000 miles just for joining and up to 1,500 more when dining at participating restaurants and spending at least $25 at each in the first 30 days after you join the program. With Delta SkyMiles Dining, earn up to 3,000 miles when eating at participating restaurants and spending at least $30 at each in the first 30 days. American and Southwest also have similar programs.

Book a rental car

When you book your rental car through an airline’s website, you can usually earn a fixed number of miles or points, though usually there is an additional fee (typically under $10) to do so. For example, Southwest, American, and United all partner with many different car rental companies, allowing you to earn up to several thousand miles or points per rental.

Exchange money

Headed abroad? If you’ll be exchanging currency before your trip, check to see if your favorite airline has an exchange service that lets you earn miles when you do. One example: United Airlines works with Travelex to allow you to earn approximately two miles for every dollar you exchange. Brush up on these currency exchange secrets first.

Buy a Mercedes

In the market for a new Mercedes? Earn up to 50,000 United miles when purchasing or leasing select Mercedes-Benz models.

Subscribe to a meal delivery service

Cooking dinner with all the ingredients sent to your door isn’t only convenient, it will also help you earn miles. Sign up for Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Gobble, Freshly, or Plated via Southwest Rapid Rewards and earn up to 1,100 points. Delta, United, and American also partner with many meal services.

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Lyn Mettler
Lyn Mettler is an Indianapolis-based lifestyle writer, who has written for MSN.com, US News & World Report, FoxNews.com, TODAY Show online among others. She blogs about how to travel for less using miles and points on GotoTravelGal.com and is the author of "The Step-by-Step Guide to Earning Your Southwest Companion Pass."