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Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from March 2013 can be found here.
This is the fifteenth post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.
I’ve already talked about a ton of ways to earn miles: card sign up bonuses, category bonuses, online shopping, dining programs, among others.
But there are tons more, a few I’ll highlight in this post, and the rest I’ll tell you where to find.
For simplicity, I’ll be looking at ways to earn United miles in this post, but most of these ways work with every airline’s loyalty program. On United’s homepage, put the cursor over Mileage Plus and click Earn Award miles.
Look at the category marked “When you spend…” and click on its links.
I’ll highlight a few of the most popular deals:
1. Netflix- 2,000 miles for signing up. Current and previous members are ineligible, and other airlines are offering more miles.
2. Fidelity- Earn up to 50,000 miles depending on the size of your deposit into a new non-retirement brokerage account. Thepointsguy has a great post on exploiting this program.
3. Others: you can earn miles by changing your phone company, energy company, buying flowers, joining a wine club, and dozens of other ways.
Some of the options to get miles are incredible values, and some are marginal. For each one you have to do the math of how much the miles are worth and how much time or extra money you’re spending to acquire them.
The point of this post is simply to open a beginners’ eyes to the fact that almost everything you buy could be earning you miles. It may be worthwhile to root around on United’s Earn Miles page and the comparable page of your other favorite airlines.
What if you don’t want to spend time sifting through all those pages? The easiest way to keep abreast of the best opportunities to earn miles is to check Flyertalk’s MilesBuzz! forum daily. In it you’ll find all the best credit card sign up bonuses, portal bonuses, all the deals I’ve mentioned in this post, and much more.
There are two other ways to earn miles that I’m not covering anywhere else in this series, so I’ll put them here.
Earn Ultimate Rewards–transferable to United, Southwest, British Airways, and Korean Air–by the thousands by buying an American Express prepaid card and Vanilla Reload cards with your Chase Ink Bold then using your prepaid AMEX for purchases and ATM withdrawals as explained here.
Earn Ultimate Rewards by “buying” free after rebate software from Staples through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You spend money upfront then get a refund by check. This is good for a few thousand Ultimate Rewards per month. I’ll have a post on this soon. For now, see the Frequent Miler’s post.