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TPG reader Eric sent me a message on Facebook to ask about airline dining programs:
“If I join the Southwest and United dining programs and register the same credit card with each one, will I earn points/miles with both airlines when I use the registered card on eligible dining expenses?”
Dining programs offer an easy way to boost your points and miles by earning rewards for restaurant spending in addition to what you earn from the credit card you use to pay the bill. Bonuses are applied to your loyalty account automatically after you make an eligible purchase, so there’s no extra work required on your end.
There are dining programs affiliated with all the major domestic airlines, as well as Hilton HHonors, IHG Rewards and more. It would be incredibly lucrative if you could earn points or miles with more than one program for a single purchase. However, that wouldn’t be sustainable in the long run, and the system is set up to prevent it from happening.
These programs are all administered by a company called Rewards Network. When you sign up for one dining program, you’ll be asked to link a credit card to your account. You can sign up for as many programs as you like, but you can only link each card to a single one. If you attempt to register your card with a second program, it will automatically be unregistered from the first, so you’ll only earn rewards from whichever program it was linked to most recently.
While you can’t earn rewards from two programs at once, you can link different cards to different programs and earn bonuses based on which card you use. For example, you could link your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to United MileagePlus Dining, and link your Citi Premier Card to Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining, so you could earn extra rewards in either case.
In general, the best strategy is to link your go-to credit card for restaurant spending to your dining program of choice, but there’s no downside to linking other cards to other programs as well. That way if you do end up using those cards, you’ll still earn a bonus for any eligible dining expenses.
Also, make sure to take advantage of any bonuses offered to new members. Most dining programs give you an incentive to register and dine within a set period — similar to credit card sign-up bonuses. For example, AAdvantage Dining is offering 1,000 miles after you spend $30 on eligible dining and complete an online review within the first 30 days. Those bonuses increase from time to time, so keep an eye out for better offers.
For more on earning rewards from dining purchases, check out these posts:
- Quadruple Dip with Points, Miles and Discounts at Restaurants
- How Credit Card Issuers Classify Travel and Dining Purchases
Know before you go.
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