8 Ways to Earn Miles Without an Airline Credit Card

December 16, 2022

Airline credit cards are a great way to earn miles with your favorite frequent flyer program, but you don’t need a co-branded or premium card to get rewards. While they may take longer, these strategies can help you earn the miles you need to book a free flight. Find out all the different ways you can earn miles without a credit card.

1. Book Flights Using Your Frequent Flyer Number

You can get miles if you provide your frequent flyer number when you book your trip and pay out of pocket. Each airline has a different rate for which you’ll earn miles, and how much you earn can depend on your status with the airline, the type of fare, the ticketing airline and the operating airline.

If you forget to add your number or haven’t yet signed up for the airline’s loyalty program, call the airline or visit its website to request credit.

2. Use Online Shopping Portals

Many airlines allow you to earn miles when you shop through their online portals. How much you can earn typically depends on the retailer and how much you spend. Here are some shopping portals from major airlines:

Shopping online can be a great way to earn miles fast, but overspending can neutralize any value you receive from the rewards you earn.

As such, it’s important to use shopping portals only if you’re already planning to spend the money. Also, don’t make your decision on where to buy an item or service based solely on the rewards rate. Shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price.

If you’re looking to maximize how many miles you earn regardless of which airline it is, you can use sites such as to compare rates for different retailers.

“Try to focus on earning points for one or two airlines that you frequent,” says Shane Mahoney, CEO and founder of Lugos Travel, a luxury tour operator, “as it doesn’t make sense to earn points on an airline you don’t normally fly with.”

3. Participate in Dining Programs

The average U.S. household spent more than $3,000 in 2021 on food away from home, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Depending on where you dine out, you could earn miles for every dollar you spend.

Most of these programs are offered through a company called Rewards Network. Here’s what you can earn:

If you earn 5 miles per dollar on $3,000 each year, you’d total 15,000 miles over the course of a year. Depending on the airline, that could be at least enough to cover one or two one-way tickets. Some programs also offer sign-up bonuses to new enrollees.

“Make sure to follow promotional campaigns, as they can provide you with exclusive access, service or value at select restaurants,” says Mercedes Zach, a travel expert at ASAP Tickets.

To get credit for your restaurant purchases, sign up for your preferred program and register your credit or debit cards that you might use when eating out.

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