When I was a student, I had always avoided using credit cards because it was so easy to get myself in debt. Maybe you are in the same boat and want to avoid the temptations, or maybe you don’t trust credit cards because of the risk of identity theft. Whatever your reason, don’t let the lack of credit cards stop you from earning frequent flyer miles.
A lot of people have the misconception that swiping your credit card is the only way to earn frequent flyer miles. Partly this is due to credit card companies constantly offering 4-5 figure bonuses when you sign up. It is certainly true that credit cards help with earning miles faster, but the reality is that it just isn’t for everyone.
If you have been stuck trying to earn miles without a credit card, here are 5 sure-fire ways that had helped me get more frequent flyer miles out of my everyday lifestyle.
Many mileage programs have partnerships with a wide-range of retailers. One of the most important first-steps after you sign up for any mileage membership is to familiarize yourself with their shopping partners and bookmarking their online shopping portal. Shopping portals are basically a list of partner retailers affiliated with your mileage program, and by doing your shopping through them, you typically earn up to 10x bonus miles that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to earn if you shopped at those stores in person.
Outside of online shopping, I also earn a large chunk of points through everyday spending like groceries, gas, and in-person shopping. As a rule of thumb, always carry your physical loyalty cards with you. If you are not into carrying physical cards around, the very least you should do is save the membership number. As some retailers may not endorse points without the physical card, it is still best to carry your most frequently used loyalty cards with you just in case.
2. Gift Cards
This goes hand-in-hand with everyday shopping above. The way you’d do this is by purchasing gift cards from partnered retailers and then using those gift cards for your everyday spends. The type of gift cards you’d want to purchase can be anywhere you shop at. Pay especially close attention to places not partnered with your rewards program and whether they offer gift cards that you can purchase elsewhere. Utilizing the latter method is a great way to earn points for something you’d otherwise not have earned points on.
My favorite places to purchase gift cards are grocery stores and gas stations. It is also worth checking which retailers offer more points over another for the same gift card purchase. The reason why you want to check is because retailer A may offer 1-to-1 miles while retailer B may offer 3-to-1 miles.
Something I highly recommend doing is subscribe to partner retailer newsletters to receive updates on special promotional periods for bonus points.
3. Dining out
Just like shopping, many loyalty programs also partner with restaurants to help you earn even more points when dining out. In the US, American Airline’s AAdvantage Dining has a huge selection of dining options across the country. Do some research on whether your loyalty programs have any partner restaurants, if not, it is always an option to register for another loyalty program that does, you never know when those bonus points will come in handy.
And don’t forget, if your favorite restaurant isn’t partnered with your loyalty program, see if they offer gift cards that you can purchase from a retailer that does.
4. Opening a debit bank account
This is something a lot of people don’t think about or realize it’s a thing, I admit I didn’t know this until pretty recently myself (note to self: something to take advantage of in the future)! Granted, most of the time these offers are only applicable to new customers, but as with most standard bank practices, you can always open more accounts, even if an account you already have.
So, next time you see an offer like this, I highly recommend jumping on it as quickly as you can. These offers usually do not last long and the return you get is much higher than the money you’ve invested in (sometimes, no investment needed at all!) And if it is an offer on an account you already own, it never hurts to ask the bank if they’ll honor the points if you open a second account.
Out of all the methods listed, completing surveys is probably the quickest way to earn points albeit the lowest return. The great thing about them is that they almost never take more than 5-minutes of your time for each survey. The bummer is that they are not offered often.
A couple ways you can get access to surveys. You can:
- Opt-in directly with your loyalty program to receive survey opportunities
- Subscribe to partner newsletters
- Search for “[loyalty program] surveys”
If you are someone who isn’t very active with your loyalty program and only earns a mile here and there every few months, completing surveys are also great ways to keep your membership active and keep your points from expiring.