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7 Easy Ways to Earn Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying

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Want to travel more? Did you know you can earn airline miles without leaving home? You can earn millions of frequent flyer miles without flying or getting on an airplane.

That’s how I’ve been able to fly First Class on Lufthansa, First Class on Cathay Pacific, and in the First Class Apartment on Etihad.

Simply from earning airline miles the easy way – without flying. It’s another easy and quick way to earn unlimited miles and points.

Knowing how to earn lots of miles without flying can help you take that dream vacation sooner. Here are 7 easy ways to earn frequent flyer miles without flying.

view through plane window 7 easy ways to earn frequent flyer miles without flying

This post was originally published on January 1, 2017, and was updated on April 16, 2020.

7 Easy Ways to Earn Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying

There are many ways to earn frequent flyer miles. Earning airline miles, like life, should be simple. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of 7 easy ways to earn frequent flyer miles without flying.

Here are just a few things you can do to earn frequent flyer miles without traveling. Most of these things you might already be doing.

1. Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses

stack of credit cards

Let’s start with the biggest bang for your buck: travel rewards credit card sign-up bonuses. You can earn frequent flyer miles without flying with credit card sign-up bonuses.

Airline credit card bonuses are the quickest way to earn the most airline miles. Card bonuses range from 25,000 to 100,000 miles for each credit card.

Yep, you could earn up to 100,000 frequent flyer miles from a single credit card. That’s enough miles for several roundtrip tickets to Hawaii. We’ve used airline miles for years of free trips to Hawaii.

Hawaii not on your bucket list? How about Belize or the Caribbean? Fly free with the one sign-up bonus from an airline credit card!

Learn more, find and compare current offers on airline credit cards.

The airline miles are deposited into your account after you meet the minimum spending requirements which vary depending on the card. Here are 7 unusual ways to meet minimum spending requirements.

Pro-tip: The most important thing to remember. Pay off your balance each month. If you can’t pay your balance in full, you should not apply for new credit cards.

Paying interests on your purchases costs more than the miles you’ll earn. If you need a little breathing room, consider getting a balance transfer card.

Pro-tip: You don’t have to get an airline card to earn frequent flyer miles. Points earned with bank cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card,   the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express transfer to airlines.

You can even transfer points from business cards like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card,Capital One Venture X Business, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

These are all the Chase cards that earn points you can transfer to airline and hotel partners.

You can also convert hotel points from hotel rewards cards like Hilton Honors American Express Card, IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card , the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, and The World of Hyatt Business Credit Card into frequent flyer miles.

2. Restaurants

Dining, ordering take out, or getting food delivery is a fast, relatively inexpensive way to earn frequent flyers miles without flying. It’s one of my favorite ways to earn thousands of airline miles!

You can earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent when dining out. No coupons or codes are needed. It’s as simple as swiping your credit card.

The beauty of this program is that it’s totally easy.

Create a free dining account with the airline you want to earn miles for, link your credit card, and pay with the linked card. Simple as that.

No coupons, codes, or vouchers required. No weird having to explain yourself. It’s all handled on the backend by computers. So no embarrassing bits. You’ll always save face.

Some airlines are offering thousands of bonus miles:

Be sure to read the complete guide to earning miles with airline dining programs including hacks to maximize the number of miles you earn.

Pro-tip: Split the bill into two charges. Paying each “bill” separately, even if using the same card, counts as two dines vs one dine.

3. Online Shopping

Hands holding credit card and using laptop. Online shopping

Have you been missing out on thousands of airline miles?

You might be if you haven’t been using the airline shopping portals for your online shopping purchases.

Depending on your purchase, you can earn up to 30 miles for every dollar you spend. During special promotions like Mother’s Day, Back to School, Cyber Monday, or the holidays, the airlines offer extra miles, often several thousands of miles.

Now if that’s not enough to get your shopping on, I don’t know what is.

Airline Shopping Portals:

Pro-tip: You might be tempted to use your United℠ Explorer Card, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, or Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. But don’t pay with your airline credit card when shopping through an airline shopping portal. If you return an item, you’ll lose your miles!

Bank rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, Ink Business Cash® Credit Card also have a shopping portal where you can earn extra points.

4. Surveys

woman using laptop to earn frequent flyer miles without flying

You can earn extra miles each month for completing online surveys.

It’s not a lot of miles, maybe several hundred a month. But it could be worth it if you have free time. Especially if you’re looking for another way to keep your airline miles from expiring. Or if you need a few miles for an award ticket without having to buy airline miles.

Online Survey Sites:

Pro-tip: Use separate email accounts for each frequent flyer account. This way you can earn miles for several airlines instead of just one.

5. Charitable Donations

hands holding red heart

Do something good for others and get a few miles in the process. Here are some of the ways you can earn airline miles by donating to charity.

Pro-tip: Use your airline credit card to earn miles through Kiva. Kiva is a micro-lending platform that lets you fund small loans with your credit card. New to Kiva? Get $25 to lend when you use my invite code.

6. Reserve a Rental Car

A hand holding car keys and a remote control for keyless entry isolated over white.

You can earn frequent flyer miles without flying when you reserve a rental car.

Most airlines offer 500 miles for every rental car reservation:

Pro-tip: Sometimes you can combine this with $5 car rentals.

7. Pay Taxes

a single man filling federal tax forms with a pen

If you’re stuck paying Uncle Sam instead of getting a tax return or pay estimated taxes, consider using your airline-branded credit card to pay your tax bill and earn miles.

You’ll pay a fee of up to 1.99% when using a credit or debit card.

This is a great way to complete the minimum spending of new travel rewards cards.

Pro-tip: If your tax bill is small, it might not be worth paying the fee to pay by credit card. Unless you have to meet minimum spending on a new credit card.


Knowing how to earn frequent flyer miles without flying means traveling now instead of later.

Flying First Class instead of coach. Or being able to take lots of trips a year instead of once every couple of years.

These seven easy travel hacks help you earn thousands of miles so you can bring the whole family.

From credit card bonuses, going to restaurants, online shopping, completing surveys, donating to charity, reserving a rental car, and paying your taxes you can earn millions of frequent flyer miles a year.

Remember to check out the ultimate guide to earning Southwest points without flying.

What’s your favorite easy way to earn frequent flyer miles without flying?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best card to get started in the world of miles and points. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5X points on travel when booked through the Chase portal (2X if direct purchase), 3X points on dining, $50 yearly credit on hotels booked through the Chase portal, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of an additional 1.5% cash back on all your purchases up to $20,000 your first year.
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal, 3% cash back at drugstores and restaurants (including delivery and takeout), 1.5% cash back on all other purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card or Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, you can use your points to travel for free.

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Thursday 16th of April 2020

Here's an eighth one - works with United: download the MileagePlus X app and shop via that when out and about.

Debra Schroeder

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Hi Christ,

Thanks for the suggestion. :)


Thursday 9th of February 2017

We don't fly very often but thank you for these. They are very good tips.


Tuesday 10th of January 2017

Great tips! I always shop online via the shopping portals that give you miles for your purchases. And they often have bonus periods where you earn 500 miles by shopping at so many online stores or spending a certain amount. You can really rack up miles doing things like that or paying for everything using your miles credit cards. I just make sure to pay it off every month.


Tuesday 10th of January 2017

Unfortunately in Canada we don't have as many sign-up bonus air miles when applying for a credit card but these are great suggestions to earn air miles in other ways. Good for you for earning enough to travel first class several times!

Sara Broers

Monday 9th of January 2017

A good reminder of how to accumulate those miles. With so many people thinking travel is out of reach financially, your post inspires folks on how it is something many can afford. Everyone loves to shop and eat out, so that in itself, is really a no brainer. Thanks for the reminder on how many unique ways points can be earned.

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