6 Fast Ways to Earn Frequent Flyer Miles: The Beginner’s Guide to Travel (Part 2)

Posted on Monday, May 23, 2011 - 0 Comments
My Ride from Oz to LA
My Ride From Oz to LA

Now that you’ve decided to join a frequent flyer program, it’s important to start earning miles in as many ways as possible. In fact, there are lots of things you do already that you could probably be earning miles for. Here are 6 fast ways to earn miles:

1.) Fly on your airline of choice or one of its partners. Yes, I know. Shocking concept. When you fly on a plane, you get miles for sitting in that seat equivalent to the miles the plane flies. For example, if you fly from LAX to JFK you will fly 2,475 miles each way or 4,950 round trip, thus earning 4,950 miles in your frequent flyer account for one round trip flight. Using this very basic calculation, you then know that once you have flown LAX-JFK roundtrip 5 times you will have 24,750 which is just 250 miles shy of a domestic award ticket. Of course, you have to be part of the frequent flyer program first!

BONUS TIP: It is good to know that if/when you achieve elite status (here’s a quick way to get that on American Airlines ), you get a bonus on how many miles you earn. Many airlines give you 25% bonus for their lowest level of elite status and 100% bonus for their middle and highest levels of elite status. Therefore, someone with Platinum status (mid-level) on American Airlines will earn 9,900 miles for a round trip from LAX-JFK. 4,950 for the flight miles plus a 100% bonus for their status.

BONUS TIP TWO: You also get a bonus if you choose to fly business or first class. Flying in upper class can give another 25%-50% bonus. So if our imaginary passenger from the above examples is an Elite flyer and chooses to fly First class, they could earn 12,375 miles for their round-trip flight from LAX-JFK. 4,950 for the miles flown plus 100% bonus (another 4,950) for Elite Status plus another 50% bonus (again 2,475) for flying first class. You can see that the miles can add up quickly. Here’s a mileage calculator that I like to use to see how many miles I will earn for a flight.

2.) Get an airline miles credit card. The standard sign-up bonus is 25k-30k miles, but lately there have been some huge sign-up bonuses. For instance last month, British Airways had a Chase Visa card that offered a 100k sign up bonus. That’s two round-trip flights to Europe right off the bat! Make sure you get a card that is affiliated with your airline of choice. I pay for as many things as possible on my credit card. Of course, I pay it off completely at the end of the month. Paying interest just to get miles is not a good way to earn extra miles. However, if you look carefully at where you spend your money, you will find there are areas where you currently just pay by cash or check that you could instead pay by credit card and be earning tons of airline miles.

3.) Shop through your airline’s online shopping portal. Most airlines have an online shopping program. All you have to do is log in via this portal and you can shop at heaps of popular stores (everything from Apple to GNC to …) and get bonus miles for doing so. I explain this in great detail here.

4.) Join your airlines mileage dining program. I discuss this option very thoroughly in this post, however, the basic premise is that you sign up to receive extra miles for dining at restaurants that have chosen to participate in an airline mileage dining program. Signing up is free and you can attach any credit card to your mileage dining account. While eating out is not likely to earn you an award flight on its own, it can certainly help over time. Big cities, like Los Angeles, have tons of restaurant options from fast food (El Pollo Loco) to fancy (Cliff’s Edge).

5.) Rental Cars. When you rent a car, make sure you give them your airline frequent flyer number. You will receive miles for your rental. Often there are even bonuses for renting from certain car rental companies. You should look on your airline’s frequent flyer bonus miles page to see what sort of deals they are running.

6.) Hotel Stays. Hotels also have loyalty programs and if you travel for work or even just travel for pleasure it is worth it to sign up for the program of your hotel chain of choice. You can then have that hotel credit points that you earn for your stays to your airline mileage program instead of their hotel program. This will help you earn flights faster.

Next week I will discuss how to go about choosing the frequent flyer program that is right for you.


If you liked this information, check out my new book, ROCK YOUR TRAVEL.

It’s all about frequent flyer miles and travel hacks.

And while you’re at it check out the new website: www.rockyourtravel.com


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Hi, I’m Algis


I have an insatiable wanderlust which takes me to some crazy places where I try strange foods, pretend I'm a local and talk with elephants. Keep reading...

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