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One of my first bits of advice to award travel novices is to take advantage of the earning opportunities in front of you. Many people never even sign up for loyalty programs, or insist on using cash for purchases that could earn them a solid return with a credit card. A big part of maximizing your award travel is learning how to pick the low-hanging fruit; so today, TPG Senior Points and Miles Correspondent Jason Steele shakes a few branches you may not have noticed before.

Most people associate earning travel rewards with actually traveling, while points and miles enthusiasts often earn rewards additionally through credit card sign-ups bonuses and spending. Yet there are other ways you can earn award travel without applying for credit cards or even leaving your home. All it takes is a little time and effort, and you can earn toward your next award trip in many smaller steps.

For your consideration, here are 21 ways to earn points and miles without traveling or applying for a credit card:

Credit card sign-up bonuses are great, but there are plenty of other ways to earn award travel.

1. Buy web services: Network Solutions is a big name when it comes to Internet domain name registration, so you might already be doing business with them already.

2. Buy, sell, or refinance a property: These offers used to be much more common, but right now American Airlines seems to have all of them. Miles are also awarded for referrals for moving and refinancing, the total of which can add up to hundreds of thousands of miles.

3. Investing: Three major airlines have agreements with Fidelity:

US Airways dish network tv promotion
You can earn bonus miles for satellite TV service from DirectTV or Dish Network.

4. Sign up for satellite television: Several major domestic airlines offer miles through either DirectTV or Dish Network.

5. Pay your utility bills, or get solar power: These offers only work for those in certain states.

SpaFinder can locate spas close to your home, and they also have their own loyalty program.
SpaFinder can locate spas close to your home, and has its own loyalty program in addition to airline partners.

6. Visit a spa: Spa Finder has three airline partners. For more ways to save with Spa Finder, check out Nick Ewen’s post on maximizing points and miles on spa visits.

7. Online shopping malls: Most airlines offer an online shopping mall or portal, and it can really pay to use their links to make big ticket purchases online. For example, you can currently earn 3 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent at JC Penney or Walgreen’s through the Southwest portal, or 8 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent at through the United portal. I’ve provided links to several portals below, but check out this post from TPG for more.

You can earn bonus miles with minimal effort via programs like MileagePlus dining.

8. Dining rewards: These programs are a particularly easy way to earn bonus points, since all you have to do is sign up, and you’ll automatically receive rewards when you use your registered credit card at eligible restaurants. Check out this post from TPG for more information.

You’ll pay more online than at the local florist, but you can earn a lot of miles buying flowers online.

9. Flowers: This is a high margin purchase that has always been popular with loyalty programs. Certainly, flowers can be purchased locally for much less money, but if you’re ordering flowers remotely, you’ll probably get more miles per dollar than with almost any other purchase.

10. Donate to charity: I was surprised I didn’t see any offers other than these three from American Airlines. Nevertheless, if you’re going to make a donation, it’s nice to earn some miles while doing so.

11. You can trade or exchange points and miles through The exchange rate for these transactions is generally terrible, so this isn’t a good option for transferring large balances between programs. However, it’s a great way to liquidate orphan balances from programs that no longer have any value to you or are about to expire.

Survey websites offer points and miles for sharing your shopping preferences.

12. Take surveys: This can be a great option for those who have extra time on their hands and don’t mind disclosing their shopping habits.

13. Attend events: These offers grant miles to those who purchase sports and entertainment tickets through airline partners.

Softcard is offering United miles for trying the new payment system.

14. Try a new payment system.

  • United is offering up to 4,000 miles to those who connect their United MileagePlus Chase card to the new Softcard wireless payment system (formerly called ISIS).

15. Get a quote or purchase auto insurance.


16. Get a home security system.

17. Be evaluated for LASIK eye surgery.

  • US Airways is offering 1,000 miles for a free evaluation, and another 24,000 to those who get a procedure through LasikPlus.

18. Subscribe to promotional emails.

19. Subscribe to eBooks.

20. Sign up for Zipcar.

21. Online searches.

United℠ Explorer Card

The United Explorer card recently got some enhancements like 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on hotel stays and a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Fee credit (up to $100). The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
18.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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