Dining rewards programs can be a great way to double dip on your points and miles earning by accruing points not only by using a points-earning credit card to pay for meals out, but also to link it to your airline or hotel program of choice and earn multiple points or miles on top of that for every dollar you spend.
While most sign-up bonuses for these programs tend to hover around the 500-1,000 mile mark, United Airlines has fattened up its dining rewards program bonus by increasing the bonus to 3,000 miles if you sign up between now and October 31, 2013.
Here are the specific terms of the promo: Dine out at a participating restaurant within 40 days of joining – spending $40 or more including tax and tip – and you will earn 1,500 miles. You will earn an additional 1,500 miles for the next $40+ dine out, totaling 3,000 miles. All you have to do is write a short online review of your experience within 30 days. If you don’t want to spend that much on a single meal, then you can always try buying a gift card for the participating restaurant to make up the total.
Recent sign-up offers from United were for 1,000 miles, so the latest deal is three times that amount and well worth taking advantage of. The 3,000-mile bonus is only open to new members joining MileagePlus Dining, or existing members creating a new online profile by registering to receive promotional e-mails. Be sure to note that some restaurants have blackout days or a maximum spending amount per month. For the full list of participating venues from Mexican to Asian fusion, and wine bars to gastropubs, click here.
As with many other airline dining programs, one of the most convenient aspects of MileagePlus Dining program is that once you have registered the credit cards that you most often eat out on, then you automatically earn points when you use them at member restaurants without having to do anything more than sign the check at the end of your meal.
Savvy diners can also earn double miles (6-10 per $1) on meals with the Hot Deals offer from a rotating selection of restaurants. Be sure to check which locations are ‘hot’ in your area.
As I have mentioned before, dining programs can be a great way to double dip by using on a points-earning credit card like the Starwood Amex, or even the category spending bonus points on a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (2.14X per $1) plus the 3-5 points or miles you earn from your airline or hotel program.
While United’s sign up bonus is far more lucrative than most – with the average offering 500-1000 miles at sign up – all of the major airlines have beneficial dining rewards programs that make the meal pay for itself. Here are the current sign-up bonuses for the major airlines and hotels.
Alaska Airlines: Alaska has their own Mileage Plan Dining program. Once enrolled, you will earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent at the participating bars and restaurants. The new member bonus is 500 bonus miles after spending $30 in 30 days once you register.
American Airlines: With the AAdvantage Dining Program, you can earn up to 5 AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend at your favorite restaurants. Currently, you’ll earn 1,000 miles when you register for the New Member Bonus and create an online profile and spend $40 at participating restaurants within 30 days and complete a dining review within 30 days of your dine.
Delta: The Delta SkyMiles dining rewards site is offering a bonus of up to 1,500 miles for new members. You will earn 1,500 miles when you register for the New Member Bonus and create an online profile and spend $40 at participating restaurants within 30 days and complete a dining review (which is really minimal) within 30 days of your dine.
Southwest Airlines: The Rapid Rewards Dining program from Southwest’s current sign-up bonus is 300 bonus points after spending $25 within the first 60 days. They also have a First Step Bonus, where once you have racked up 1,500 rewards from dining and completing your reviews, they will give you an additional 500 points as a reward. For full details, click here.
US Airways: The Dividend Miles Dining program allows you to earn up to 5 US Airways miles for every dollar spent at select bars and restaurants. Currently, the Dividend Miles Dining Program is also offering a bonus of 1,000 bonus US Airways miles for new members.
It is not just airlines that offer great dining deals – credit cards, hotels and rewards sites all make eating out a points-earner.
Hilton HHonors: The Hilton HHonors Dining program allows you to earn up to 8 Hilton HHonors points for every dollar spent at select restaurants, along with a bonus of 1,000 bonus Hilton HHonors points for new members.
IHG: The Priority Club Rewards Dining program allows you to earn up to 8 points per dollar spent at select bars and restaurants.
Beyond the Dining Rewards Network programs, you can still be earning money back on each dine out through OpenTable, which allows users to make online reservations at over 25,000 restaurants around the world. Unlike booking directly with a restaurant, each online reservation made through OpenTable will earn you points that can then be redeemed for future dining certificates. The “standard” reservation will earn 100 points, while certain restaurants will occasionally offer 1,000 points specials on certain tables at specific times. For detailed instructions on how to make OpenTable reservations and redeem rewards check out this post Maximizing Points on Dining Spend With OpenTable Rewards.
Credit Card Dining Category Bonuses
Another way to maximize the points you earn while dining is to use the right credit card for your purchases and several of the best ones out there earn multiple points per dollar on dining spend.
Chase Sapphire 3X First Friday: Along with earning you 2.14X Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire , the Chase Sapphire program has partnered with OpenTable to offer 3X points per $1 on dining on the first Friday of each month now through the end of 2013 when you pay for a meal with your Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire cards.
Capital One Sony Card MasterCard credit card: Earn 3 points per dollar on restaurants with no annual fee. Points earned are Sony Rewards points, which can only be redeemed for items from the Sony Rewards Catalog at 1 cent per point.
Amex Blue Sky Preferred: Earn 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and you can redeem points for travel purchases after a $75 annual fee.
Hyatt Visa: Earn 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and you can redeem points at 1.9 cents each. There is a $75 annual fee.
Marriott Rewards Premier: Earn 2 points per dollar at restaurants. There is an $85 annual fee that is waived the first year.
For more information on how to earn miles and points through dining, read my prior posts:
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