TPG reader credit card question: Can I earn miles with a dining portal and credit card at the same time?

Aug 31, 2020

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The fastest way to pad your points and miles balance is by picking up a welcome bonus on a new travel rewards credit card, but you should also look for other ways to diversify your earning strategy as well. While many people are familiar with online shopping portals, most major airlines in the U.S. also offer a dining rewards program as well. TPG reader Anthony wants to know if he can “double-dip” and earn points from an airline dining portal in addition to his credit card bonus categories …

I just signed up for the American Airlines AAdvantage dining program and linked my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Will I get the triple points from Chase in addition to the AA miles I’m earning?

TPG READER ANTHONY

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For those who aren’t familiar, most major airlines in the US (including Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United) offer a dining rewards program that lets you earn bonus points or miles when you dine out at participating restaurants. All are run by the same company — Rewards Network — and thus feature very similar terms.

Generally speaking, you can get a new member bonus of anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 miles after making your first eligible purchase in 30 days. You’ll also earn points or miles on every dine at a participating location, though the exact rate varies based on how frequently you dine. Most programs even let you earn bonus miles by signing up for emails, which is a great way to boost your return even further.

Related: Earn up to 5x miles with United MileagePlus Dining

All you need to do to earn these bonuses is register and link your preferred credit card (ideally one that earns a bonus on dining purchases). Then, when that card is used at a Rewards Network establishment, the points or miles will automatically post to your account, and this is in addition to whatever earnings you’d enjoy on your credit card. Note that you can only like each credit card to one account, so you can’t register your Chase Sapphire Reserve with American Airlines AAdvantage Dining and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Dining at the same time.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

So yes, Anthony will absolutely earn bonus airline miles in addition to the 3x dining category bonus on his Chase Sapphire Reserve. The same would be true if he opted to use an American Express® Gold Card for the 4x Membership Rewards points it offers on dining at restaurants. This kind of “double-dipping” is a great way to speed up your earning rate and earn more miles without spending any more money.

Double Dipping, Triple Dipping and More

In many ways, what’s going on here is similar to what happens when you purchase a flight or hotel with the right rewards card. I’m able to earn a whopping 23.5x Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels (equivalent to an 18.8% return based on TPG’s valuations) by stacking the 17.5x points I earn as a Bonvoy Titanium Elite with the 6x points I earn from using my Bonvoy credit cards.

The same thing holds true when I buy tickets with American Airlines — I can stack the 5x Membership Rewards points I earn by using The Platinum Card® from American Express (when booking directly with the airline; starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) with the 7x American miles I earn as an AAdvantage Gold member. This brings my combined return to 19.8% based on TPG’s valuations, a great deal no matter how you slice it.

However, this can get even more lucrative. You can leverage online shopping portals like Rakuten with an issuer’s program (like Amex Offers) to get bonus points and additional cash-back on the purchases you’re already planning to make. And if you find an Amex Offer for an airline, hotel or restaurant, you may even be able to quadruple-dip.

The Ventura Beach Marriott. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
The Ventura Beach Marriott. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

For example, last year there was an Amex offer floating around for $40 back when spending $200 at select U.S. Marriott properties, so let’s use that as an example:

  • $40 back using the Amex Offer
  • 2% back (or more) by using the right shopping portal
  • 6x Marriott points for paying for the hotel with a Bonvoy credit card
  • 10x-17.5x points per dollar on the hotel stay, depending on your Marriott elite status

You can see how this might also work for Amex offers targeting airlines or restaurants that participate in a dining rewards program.

Bottom Line

Stacking a dining rewards program with a credit card bonus category is a great way for you to enhance your earning, but if you keep your eyes out, you might be able to triple- or even quadruple-dip to earn more points or miles. There’s no catch to this at all. Simply sign-up for the dining program of your choice, link your preferred credit card(s) and watch your loyalty program balance start to climb.

Thanks for the question, Anthony, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo by Stella Kalinina / Getty Images.

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