Paying Bills

5 Ways to Earn Thousands of Miles and Points

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Are you wondering how to earn miles and points for award travel?

There’s no denying the welcome bonuses offered by travel rewards credit cards are the fastest way to give your loyalty program balances a big boost.

But how do you continue to earn thousands of points and miles in between new credit card bonuses to keep your airline and hotel redemptions on track?

In this guide, let’s look at strategies that should be part of your daily habits to ensure every dollar is working to earn you more travel rewards.

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5 Ways to Earn Thousands of Miles and Points for Travel

I’m betting you already spend money on everything from gas to groceries, cell phone bills to car insurance, and everything in between.

It’s time to earn thousands of miles and points by leveraging the power of your everyday expenses. Spend smarter, not more.

1. Use travel rewards credit cards for your bills & daily expenses.

bills, a calculator, and a checkbook to pay bills

Instead of linking your bank account or debit card, link your travel rewards credit cards to pay bills. Then, pay them off each month just like you would have if the money had come out of your bank account. 

This includes everything from your Amazon Prime Membership to pet food, to your home internet bill and renewing your car insurance policy.

Use cash or your bank account or debit card to pay for something ONLY when absolutely necessary.

Remember, the key to success with this strategy is responsibility.

Pay off whatever you spend each month in full. Paying interest fees month after month will negate the value of the miles and points earned.

If you’re worried about keeping track, one method is to deduct your credit card charges from your checking account as you go. This way your checking account shows the amount of money you will have once you pay your credit card bill at the end of the billing cycle.

Even though it may not seem like a lot, the money you spend on your morning coffee, a bottle of Gatorade, or a greeting card adds up over the long term and so will the miles and points you earn.

When you’re trying to book that award flight and you’re a few miles short, you’ll wish you had used your travel rewards credit card for all your everyday spending!

2. Take advantage of credit card bonus categories.

Young woman shopping in the supermarket

Most travel rewards credit cards offer additional miles and points earnings for spending in particular categories. Do you know what bonus categories your credit card has? 

If your credit card gives 5x the points for gas, like the Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express, use it for all your gas purchases.

Chase Freedom Flex has rotating bonus categories and typically* once each year includes 5% cashback/5x the points for supermarket spending. (*Always check the Freedom Flex quarterly bonus calendar for the most up-to-date bonus categories.)

If and when that grocery bonus comes around, use the Freedom Flex card for all your grocery purchases.

Think outside of the box on this one, too. If a credit card gives you 5x the points at grocery stores or hardware stores, for example, remember these stores often sell things outside of their niche. For example, there are cleaning products at home depot.

You can also buy gift cards for a wide range of stores and even restaurants at some of these stores. Then, use them for your own purchases or give them as gifts. You can even use purchased gift cards to make purchases within shopping portals to earn even more miles and points.

3. Use shopping portals to maximize your purchases.

girl makes a purchase on the Internet on the computer with credit card

Airlines, hotels, and possibly even your credit card offer shopping portals to increase the number of miles and points you earn per dollar spent.

Shopping portals list hundreds of participating merchants, many of which are stores where you likely already shop. For example, stores include Petco, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Gap.

The difference between shopping regularly and shopping through a particular portal is the airline, hotel, or credit card will give you a specific number of miles and points for your purchase.

For example, if the earn rate for Petco in the United shopping portal is 3x, then spending $50 at Petco will earn you 150 United miles.

Likewise, if the Best Buy earn rate is 2x in the American Airlines shopping portal, spending $900 on a TV will earn 1,800 American Airlines miles.

Shopping portal earning rates change frequently so it’s best to compare different shopping portals, as well as keep your travel goal in mind to help you decide which shopping portal to use.

Also, look out for promotions where you can earn bonus miles like during back-to-school or the holiday season. You should even consider using the MileagePlus X App to earn even more miles and points.

4. Earn miles and points with dining rewards programs.


As with shopping portals, airlines and hotels participate in dining rewards programs.

Simply join an airline or hotel’s dining rewards program and register your travel rewards credit card to your account.

Whenever you dine out or order in, use that credit card to pay. If the restaurant participates in the dining rewards program, you’ll earn 3-5x the miles or points for every dollar spent.

Even better, register a travel rewards credit card with a dining bonus category. You’ll earn the bonus category miles or points from your credit card AND the bonus from the dining program, too.

5. Take advantage of promotions and deals.

Computer desk

Additional miles and points-earning opportunities come up frequently. You just have to be proactive and know where to look.

Sign up for loyalty program and bank emails. Follow their social media accounts.

Check the loyalty program sections of their website for partner offers.

Follow websites like Doctor of Credit that post daily about timely deals and ways to stack your earnings through limited-time promotions.

Log into your credit card accounts for special customer offers.

Airlines, hotels, and credit cards offer bonus miles and points for things like completing surveys, shopping at specific stores, ordering flowers, signing up for satellite TV, renting cars, and buying wine.

Banks may even offer credit cardholders the chance to earn additional miles or points per dollar in a specific bonus category, for shopping at a particular store, or for reaching a limited-time spending tier.

The bottom line is, by using your travel rewards credit card for all your bills and purchases, you add tremendous value to the money you already spend. 

Layering this strategy with the others mentioned in this list and mixing in a welcome bonus on a new credit card (even just once in a while) will add up to you booking that dream trip with points and miles.

How do you maximize the number of miles and points you earn?

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2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Earn Thousands of Miles and Points”

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Really simple, yet really effective ways to earn points, Danielle. Definitely worth your time. 🙂

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