How to Net Airline Miles on Your Next Hotel or Airbnb Stay
Boost your miles balance on your next overnight stay with these tips and tricks.
Collect frequent flyer points and perks quickly by investing in a flexible credit card and transferring your points strategically to leverage value. (Getty Images)
Do you love collecting airline miles? On your next hotel stay, you can accumulate enough miles for the trip of a lifetime or earn the 110,000 points required to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets one person fly for free on Southwest with you for up to two years. There are plenty of ways you can net significant miles not just when staying at hotels, but also when you book a stay with Airbnb. Read on to get the scoop on how to leverage lucrative perks and points with these underrated hacks.
Strategically Transfer Your Hotel Loyalty Points
Most hotel loyalty programs will let you convert your hotel points to airline miles. But there's a catch: Points often transfer at an unfavorable exchange rate, so it may not be the best value per point. For example, 10,000 Marriott Rewards points can be exchanged for 2,000 Southwest points, and 10,000 Hilton Honors points can be transferred for 1,500 American miles. Before you transfer your points, assess your spending habits and patterns to maximize value.
Starwood Preferred Guest, on the other hand, offers a more favorable 1-to-1 transfer rate with a variety of airlines. Plus, Starwood Preferred Guest grants a bonus 5,000 miles for every 20,000 points a user converts. "Because of this awesome perk, I tend to use my Starwood American Express card for purchases where I wouldn't earn at least a 2x bonus [points] with another card," says Scott Lieberman, managing editor of rewards site MillionMileSecrets.com. "So I'm sure to bring my purple card to the dentist, auto mechanic and other such houses of pain. Then, I close my eyes and dream of my next vacation paid for with points," he adds.
Use Booking Sites Wisely
There are a variety of third-party booking sites that allow you to earn airline miles when booking a hotel on their site. However, when you use these online travel agencies, you will forfeit any hotel loyalty points. Airlines like American and Southwest, on the other hand, offer booking sites that allow you to earn miles. On American Airlines and Southwest's sites, loyalty members can score up to 10,000 points per night on stays booked online. The miles appear in your account within a few days of checkout and can be a great way to pad your frequent flyer miles. Independent sites such as Rocketmiles.com and PointsHound.com also let users earn up to 10,000 miles per night and provide the flexibility of selecting from a variety of major frequent flyer programs, including the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and United MileagePlus.
Invest in a Flexible Travel Credit Card
Using a credit card to pay for your stay is another way to stack miles. However, a flexible travel credit card that is not affiliated with a specific airline or hotel may be your best bet. "Do not use a hotel credit card if you're going to transfer the points to airlines miles, because that's almost always a bad deal," Lieberman says." Instead, get yourself a credit card that earns two, three or even five points per dollar on travel purchases," he says, explaining that travel purchases usually include hotels and Airbnb rentals, though it's a wise idea to check the fine print to confirm.
Before choosing a flexible travel card, brush up on affiliated airline partners. "I often use my Chase Sapphire Preferred [Credit Card] to earn double points at hotels and Airbnb," Lieberman says. "So my $1,000 expense becomes 2,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Then, I can transfer those 2,000 points to become 2,000 United miles, 2,000 Southwest miles or 2,000 British Airways miles and so on."
To collect even more miles, use a card like the Chase Ink Business Cash Card that earns five points per dollar spent at office supply stores, where you can purchase Airbnb gift cards. Then, transfer the Chase points to various airlines and use the gift card to book your stay.
Earn Delta SkyMiles With Airbnb
While you can earn plenty of points with flexible travel credit cards on your Airbnb stays, there's also a direct way to earn additional miles. "Delta SkyMiles members can now earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on Airbnb rentals," says Roman Shteyn, CEO and co-founder of travel rewards site RewardExpert.com.
SkyMiles members can visit DeltaAirbnb.com to book their Airbnb through the site and earn double miles. Delta also frequently offers promotions where new members can both earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent and get a $25 credit on their first stay. What's more, if you sign up to become an Airbnb host through the site, you can earn up to 25,000 miles.
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About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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