Eating at a restaurant

Earning with Dining Programs

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

Airline and hotels have dining programs where you can earn miles and points for eating out. All you have to do is sign up!

Earning miles and points doesn’t get easier than this. It’s the closest to earning travel rewards in your sleep as you’ll get.

Earning With Dining Programs Pinterest Pin

Earning Frequent Flyer Miles with Dining Programs

The premise with airline and hotel dining rewards programs is simple.

When you dine at a participating restaurant and pay with the credit card registered with the dining rewards program, you earn miles.

You will typically earn 3x miles/points per $1 spent to start. Once you get 10 dines in a calendar year (delivery counts!), you’ll be elevated to VIP status and earn 5x miles/points per $1 spent.

The airline and hotel loyalty programs that participate in a dining rewards program are:

Alaska Mileage Plan   American Airlines AAdvantage   Delta SkyMiles   Hilton Honors

IHG Rewards Club   JetBlue TrueBlue   Southwest Rapid Rewards   Free Spirit  

United MileagePlus

Here’s how to sign up Dining Rewards Programs

  • Use your airline or hotel loyalty member number to sign up for that dining program.

(If you don’t have a loyalty member number, just sign up. It’s free.)

  • Create your account.

Remember to keep track of your password. It may be different than the one you use to log in to your airline or hotel loyalty account.

  • Register 1 credit card within your account. Choose a travel rewards credit card that offers a dining bonus category, if you have it.

A credit card can only be registered with 1 dining program at a time so if you want to join multiple dining rewards programs use a different card for each registration. You can also register a debit card if you don’t have a travel rewards credit card.

Frequently, dining programs offer sign-up bonuses for new customers.

You can earn between 500-5,000 bonus miles and points just for signing up, completing 1 dine, and submitting a quick follow-up survey emailed to you later.

The miles and points you earn from dining are in addition to this sign-up bonus.

Here’s how it works.

Simply put, you’ll earn miles and points every time you use your registered credit card(s) at a participating restaurant.

You do not need to do anything else.

No need to tell your waiter/waitress. No need to do anything special with your bill.

Simply, use the card to pay the restaurant bill and earn miles and points. They’ll automatically be deposited into your loyalty member account within a few weeks.

Eating at a restaurant
I’ll have a creamy salad with a side of miles, please.

One important thing to note: You’ll want to double-check you are, in fact, earning miles/points when you use an ordering service, like Seamless or GrubHub, for take-out and delivery.

Most credit cards code these purchases as dining/restaurant. But, if you notice missing miles/points, call or order directly with the restaurant next time instead to make sure you’re earning.

Interestingly, too, many airline and hotel shopping portals offer bonus points for first-time GrubHub customers. Rakuten (formerly ebates) even allows existing GrubHub customers to earn 2x the Membership Rewards Points or 2% cashback.

Stacked with a dining rewards bonus category credit card and dining portal rewards, you could suddenly be earning quite a few points and miles for that food delivery.

Here’s how to find participating restaurants.

Search for participating restaurants in your area.
Search for participating restaurants in your area.

On the home page of every dining program website, there is a search field at the top to find participating restaurants near you. “Restaurants” is used broadly and can even include bars and clubs.

Search by town/city or zip code. Remember to also think of destinations you might be traveling to and the restaurants in those locations.

Want to maximize your miles and points earning?

Register a credit card that earns extra reward points for dining.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve both earn 3x the points for dining. (You can read my reviews of each card to understand the differences between them.)

And, the American Express® Gold Card is even better with 4x the points for dining. Just always be sure to check any/all terms that apply so you earn the bonus points for your dining purchases.

Take a look at this example scenario.

Let’s say you’re a VIP earning 5x the miles and points per $1 spent with a particular dining program. You register the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the dining program where you’re a VIP and voila!

You’ll earn 5x + 3x the miles and points, for a grand total of 8x the miles and points for each $1 spent on your meal. 

That’s all there is to it!

Once you’re a member, keep an eye out for dining promotions sent to your inbox offering even more bonus miles and points for eating at your favorite restaurants! 

Earning travel rewards through a dining program is a simple way to make your travel goal a reality!

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Learn more about dining rewards and how to get started with points and miles in my Free Travel Hacking Basics course.

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