On the “Start Here” page we discussed how to earn points, and not just through paid travel or credit cards. The easiest options are putting purchases on credit cards and the following big three categories:
- Shopping portals
- Dining rewards
The general idea with all of these categories is to gain the maximum number of points for items you are already paying for.
For the first item on “how to earn points” it’s time to talk shopping. Shopping portals simply mean you go through a website when doing online shopping and earn points on your purchases. I typically use the AAdvantage shopping portal and Chase shopping portal simply because I have good sized points balances there. Many airlines and credit card merchants have shopping portals, plus there are options for cash back with websites like Ebates.
If you want to get really detailed there are websites that tell you how many points you can get across all the shopping portals for every merchant. Due to not wanting points spread across dozens of programs I focus on AA and Chase but you may want to take advantage of other options.
To find various shopping portals just google “Southwest Shopping Portal”, etc.
Keep in mind many of these websites often offer temporary additional bonuses. For instance, AAdvantage having 15x points during the holidays prompted me to order a wedding photo book off Shutterfly! Yes, it may be a little sad that I finally ordered it after a year of marriage due to a points bonus…
First of all, we all like to eat out! So again, why not discover how to earn points from your dining? The Rewards Network runs this program and it is important to note you can only pick one program to get points from. You just sign up using your airline frequent flyer number and put in the credit card you use for dining to track your purchases. You also have the option of earning HHonors or IHG points, or other options listed here. Based on relative value for what you earn I’d go for an airline program though. The following, except when noted, can earn you up to 5 points per $1 spent.
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Delta Skymiles
- JetBlue True Blue (up to 2 points per $1)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards (up to 3 points per $1)
- United MileagePlus
To earn the maximum dining points
In order to get 5 points per $1 you must become a “VIP” member. The earning tiers are part of the FAQ’s and listed below. With 273 options in the Phoenix area it is very easy for me to hit 12 dines in a year. Typically I don’t even try to eat at Dining Rewards restaurants, I just do by accident. As you can see from the above you can search by zip code or city on the Dining Rewards site. Points earning is as follows:
- Members earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $2 spent if you elect to not receive email communication from AAdvantage DiningSM program.
- Online Members earn 3 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage DiningSM program.
- VIP Members earn 5 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage DiningSM program AND have 12 or more qualified dining transactions in a calendar year.
For instance, last month I earned 751 miles by one Jack in the Box run (#TacosFTW), two nights of takeout pizza, and a Saturday night dinner out. And yes, I know if American miles are worth approximately 1.5 cents each that’s $12 a month but by utilizing all of these tips on how to earn points your balances start snowballing very quickly. Plus, I can get far more value than 1.5 cents out of American points (but that’s a whole other article!).
There are also some sign-up bonus offers to keep an eye out for if you haven’t joined before. AAdvantage’s current offer is to earn up to 2,000 bonus miles if you hit certain thresholds in your first 30 days but there can be promos where it’s higher.
JetBlue Points for Amazon purchases
Most noteworthy, for Amazon devotees like myself, you can get additional points with the JetBlue and Amazon partnership! For every Amazon purchase you get 3x points per $1. This isn’t difficult but unfortunately you can’t just go to Amazon.com to get these points.
- Sign up for JetBlue’s TrueBlue program
- Log in to your TrueBlue account
- Go to https://trueblue.jetblue.com/group/trueblue/amazon
- Click the “Shop and Earn” button to get sent to Amazon
- Repeat this every time you shop on Amazon to get the bonus points.
Due to the program rules keep in mind points can take up to 60 days to post, so be patient! As a result, with TrueBlue points worth approximately 1.4 cents each, this means you’re getting the equivalent of 4.2% back in TrueBlue points for every Amazon purchase. This is a fantastic deal even though you do need to log in and press the link every time you want the bonus points.
“How to Earn Points” Bottom Line
In conclusion, hopefully this was a good primer on how to earn points outside of paid travel and credit card points. By combining these strategies you’ll be on your way to your next vacation in no time!