Applying for a travel rewards credit card associated with an airline or hotel loyalty program is a fantastic way to build up discounts towards your flight costs. The Delta SkyMiles Gold from American Express or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card allows you to earn valuable miles and perks with your everyday spending.
But you don’t need to start signing up for a credit card if you want to build up points and miles for a frequent flyer program such as the American Airlines AAdvantage program or Marriott Bonvoy loyalty scheme.
There are lots of ways you can build or top up your travel rewards points for your favorite airline without using a partner credit card to pay for flights and bookings. Below we have detailed 5 of the easiest ways to start building up your travel reward points for the next time you book flights with miles without a credit card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Use Your Frequent Flyer Number When Booking Your Travel
It is usually free to sign up for the frequent flyer programs for major airlines, and you don’t need to apply for an associated credit card to start earning points. Airline reward programs will reward you in points or miles when you book a flight using your membership number.
The rate at which you will be rewarded with bonus miles will depend on the airline and can vary according to the type of seat you book, how far you are traveling, and how much your tickets cost.
If you fail to input your frequent flyer number when booking your tickets, you can usually contact the airline afterward to make sure that your points and rewards are applied to your account.
Do Your Online Shopping Using Travel Rewards Portals
A lot of airlines allow you to build up your points when shopping online through a travel rewards portal. If you regularly purchase household items, clothing, and groceries on the internet, then doing this through a rewards browser will allow you to earn points and miles for each eligible purchase.
The amount of money you will be able to earn with your purchases will depend on how much you spend, whether you are spending within a selected reward category, and which retailer you shop with.
The majority of US airlines offer online shopping hubs, and this can be a great way to earn air miles and points with your everyday spending. For example, American Airlines has the AAdvantage eShopping hub, Southwest offers rewards through Rapid Rewards Shopping, and Delta rewards buyers through SkyMiles Shopping.
However, when considering this method, you need to make sure that you are only spending what you would be spending online anyway. It can be tempting to rack up points through products and goods you spot on the online hub which offers big rewards. Only purchase items that you really need and would be purchased regardless of the bonus points on offer.
Overspending on an airline travel hub could end up costing you more than the savings you would make on airline and hotel purchases. So, you should make sure to purchase an item based solely on need and best price, not to earn frequent flyer miles.
Your goal is always to save money overall.
Get Rewarded For Dining Out in Restaurants
One of the most fun ways to earn rewards points for airlines and hotels is to spend your dollars with partner restaurants and takeout services. If you regularly spend on dining out and getting food in, then you should take the time to check how many points you could be rewarded with.
Most airline loyalty schemes reward the dollars you spend on dining through a dedicated rewards network. Participating airlines include JetBlue Airways’ TrueBlue Dining, and Spirit Airlines Free Spirit Dining. United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines will also reward you for your dining purchases through individual programs.
The average American spends approximately $300 each month on eating out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, if we use a 5 mile reward for each dollar as an example – you could potentially earn 1,500 extra miles each month simply by enjoying great food in your favorite dining establishments!
To get started earning miles while you eat, you need to sign up for a participating airline rewards program, register the credit or debit cards you will use when dining out, and check for any special reward rates you can get by dining at partner eateries.
Book Products and Services with Airline Partners
Most airline carriers have developed a network of partners across different industries. And you will be able to earn more air miles and rewards points by spending your dollars on eligible hotels, car rental services, gyms, and experiences.
Once you sign up for an airline rewards program, you will be able to log in to the membership site and note down all of the partners you can earn miles with. This way, you can check your list before making any purchases to check if you could be making points back on each dollar you spend.
Some airline loyalty schemes will rotate and change the partners and spending categories where you can earn miles. So, it is important that you regularly check in to keep up to date on where and when you can earn the best rewards.
However, you should always make sure not to spend just for the sake of earning points. You should only purchase products and services which you would be buying anyway.
Look Into the Value of Points with Transfer Partners
Once you have earned your rewards points, you may find that you can actually get more valuable discounts by transferring your air miles to a partner loyalty scheme.
Some loyalty programs will give you the best rewards rates when you use their dedicated travel hub (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards.) But you may find that you can get more money off products by transferring your points to an airline or hotel which gives you more dollar value per point you collect.
Takeaway - Travel for Less: 5 Ways to Earn Points Without a Credit Card
Travel Rewards Credit Cards aren’t the only way to save money on your next flight or hotel booking. Joining frequent flyer programs and making sure you are aware of all the different ways to earn points with your online shopping, eating out, and grocery shopping can help you to steadily build up savings for future free flights and discounted travel.
Find The Best Airline Credit Card For Beginners
Choosing an airline credit card is more complicated than it may first seem. Sure, there are lots of options available and many offer great perks and upgrades. But the best card for you will differ from that of someone living in a different part of the country.