20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

U.S. News & World Report

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

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Discover all of the lesser-known ways you can increase your rewards program accruals.

It's common for hotel brands and airlines to award points or miles to members of their loyalty programs each time they book stays or flights. However, many of the 2019-20 Best Travel Rewards Programs are expanding their partnerships to offer members additional ways to rack up earnings, making it easier to qualify for a free night or flight faster. To help you take full advantage of your rewards program memberships, U.S. News compiled a list of 20 ways you can earn points or miles. Read on to find out more about these underrated earnings options.
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Lyft rides

Members of several loyalty programs can earn points or miles each time they ride with Lyft. With JetBlue TrueBlue, you'll earn 30 TrueBlue points each time you use Lyft to go to or from the airport. Delta SkyMiles awards 1 mile per dollar spent on any Lyft ride and 2 miles per dollar spent on airport rides. And as a Hilton Honors member, you'll collect two or three Hilton Honors points (depending on the type of ride booked) for every dollar you spend on rides in the U.S. and Canada. To start earning, link your loyalty program and Lyft accounts online. If you're a member of all three rewards programs, maximize your earnings by linking each one to your Lyft account.
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Discover all of the lesser-known ways you can increase your rewards program accruals.

It's common for hotel brands and airlines to award points or miles to members of their loyalty programs each time they book stays or flights. However, many of the 2019-20 Best Travel Rewards Programs are expanding their partnerships to offer members additional ways to rack up earnings, making it easier to qualify for a free night or flight faster. To help you take full advantage of your rewards program memberships, U.S. News compiled a list of 20 ways you can earn points or miles. Read on to find out more about these underrated earnings options.

Lyft rides

Members of several loyalty programs can earn points or miles each time they ride with Lyft. With JetBlue TrueBlue, you'll earn 30 TrueBlue points each time you use Lyft to go to or from the airport. Delta SkyMiles awards 1 mile per dollar spent on any Lyft ride and 2 miles per dollar spent on airport rides. And as a Hilton Honors member, you'll collect two or three Hilton Honors points (depending on the type of ride booked) for every dollar you spend on rides in the U.S. and Canada. To start earning, link your loyalty program and Lyft accounts online. If you're a member of all three rewards programs, maximize your earnings by linking each one to your Lyft account.

Retail purchases

Multiple frequent flyer programs, including American Airlines AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles, offer online shopping portals where members can earn miles each time they buy items from retailers like Macy's, Sephora and Staples. What's more, JetBlue TrueBlue participants receive three points per dollar spent on in-flight Amazon purchases. Many hotel rewards programs also give members the chance to earn points for retail purchases. For example, IHG Rewards Club's partnership with Apple means members can earn four points for every dollar they spend on Apple's website (when accessed through their IHG Rewards Club account). Likewise, Radisson Rewards members who visit any of the 11 Bicester Village malls throughout Europe and Asia can collect 10 points per euro, pound or 10 yuan spent at various boutiques.

Tours and activities

If you want to enjoy a few tours or activities while on vacation, consider booking them through your loyalty program. Marriott Bonvoy Activities lets you earn Marriott Bonvoy points when you reserve everything from wine tastings to sightseeing excursions to whitewater rafting adventures via their third-party partner, PlacePass. Meanwhile, World of Hyatt's experiences platform (FIND) awards 10 base points per dollar spent on activities in the U.S. and Mexico. Other programs like American Airlines AAdvantage and United MileagePlus offer 50 to 100 miles for every theater ticket you purchase through the program's Audience Rewards website. And thanks to Delta SkyMiles' partnership with Ticketmaster, you can rack up 3 miles for every dollar you spend on eligible Ticketmaster events in the U.S. and Canada.

Green stays

When you reserve a room at select hotel brands and choose to forgo housekeeping services, you'll be rewarded with loyalty program points. At participating IHG properties, you'll earn 500 IHG Rewards Club points per stay lasting two or more nights when you opt out of housekeeping. Meanwhile, Best Western Rewards members can accrue 500 points for every night they decide to skip housekeeping during a stay lasting at least two nights at select hotels. Best Western Rewards members who stay at a Best Western hotel with a restaurant may receive a food and beverage credit instead of points. To earn points for declining housekeeping services, simply discuss the matter with the hotel's front desk staff when you check in.

Mortgage and utility bills

Travelers who pay for a mortgage or utilities each month may be eligible to receive rewards program points or miles. United MileagePlus, HawaiianMiles and Choice Privileges partner with Quicken Loans to give members the chance to earn 25,000 miles or 50,000 points after setting up a new mortgage or refinancing an existing one. Additionally, United MileagePlus and American Airlines AAdvantage participants have the opportunity to earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on the supply portion of their NRG Home electric and natural gas bills. This offer is only available to select members in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Texas residents who have an account with Reliant or Gexa Energy may also qualify for miles.

Dining in or out

Several airline and hotel rewards programs, including JetBlue TrueBlue, Free Spirit, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, United MileagePlus, American Airlines AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards and Hilton Honors, feature dining portals where you can make reservations and keep track of points or miles earned for purchases at thousands of restaurants, bars and clubs. Other programs, such as Wyndham Rewards and IHG Rewards Club, let you earn points with food delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub. As a Wyndham Rewards member, you'll collect 250 points for every DoorDash order made in the U.S. Meanwhile, your IHG Rewards Club membership means you're eligible to receive 500 points for your first Grubhub order (and 250 points for subsequent Grubhub orders) placed through IHG's website while staying at a Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites property.

Train travel

United MileagePlus partners with Amtrak to give its members the chance to accrue miles for Amtrak train rides. However, not all train fares and routes qualify for miles. To earn miles, travelers with a United MileagePlus account must book a trip that includes a United connection at Newark Liberty International Airport and a coach or business-class train fare for an itinerary that starts or ends at a participating rail station in Connecticut, Pennsylvania or Delaware. Passengers will collect 250 miles for economy fares and 325 miles for business- and first-class fares. Program members can also receive 500 or 750 miles (depending on the fare class chosen) when they travel by Acela Express train between New York City's Pennsylvania Station and one of several train stations in Boston or the District of Columbia.

Magazine and newspaper subscriptions

Frequent flyers who enjoy reading magazines or newspapers can earn miles or points just for subscribing to their favorite titles. After logging into the online shopping portal for airline rewards programs like Southwest Rapid Rewards, American Airlines AAdvantage and HawaiianMiles, members can accrue miles or points when they sign up for a magazine or newspaper subscription. Loyalty earnings are awarded per subscription ordered or dollar spent on a subscription. Titles that may be available to program participants include Woman's Day, The Economist and The New Yorker, as well as The Wall Street Journal.

Vacation rentals

If you prefer staying in vacation rentals rather than traditional hotels, you're in luck: Several hotel loyalty programs – including Marriott Bonvoy, Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges – award you five to 10 points per dollar spent on stays at affiliated vacation rentals. Thousands of properties are available across the globe, and many cater to those traveling with children or pets. What's more, Delta SkyMiles offers a unique partnership with Airbnb that lets you earn 1 mile for every dollar you spend on Airbnb vacation rentals. There is no minimum spend requirement, but keep in mind that only Airbnb stays booked on deltaairbnb.com qualify for miles.

Identity theft protection

American Airlines AAdvantage and United MileagePlus members who want to add an extra layer of security to their day-to-day lives should consider using their loyalty accounts to sign up for LifeLock. When participants in the American Airlines AAdvantage program enroll in LifeLock's identity theft protection service, they receive up to 12,000 miles. Meanwhile, United MileagePlus members who subscribe to the service can accrue up to 13,000 miles. But remember, both programs stipulate that travelers must be active LifeLock members for at least 31 days to earn miles. Additionally, miles are awarded in increments over the course of three years, so earning the maximum number of miles requires staying enrolled for several years.

Spa services

Travelers who enjoy pampering themselves while on vacation can earn loyalty program points or miles for spending money on spa treatments. By purchasing a Spafinder Wellness 365 gift card via shopping portals for Southwest Rapid Rewards, American Airlines AAdvantage, Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards (among others), program participants will earn three or four points or miles for every dollar they spend. And for Spa & Wellness gift cards purchased from JetBlue TrueBlue's ShopTrue website, members will receive two points per dollar spent. Spa gift cards can be used for various treatments at thousands of participating locations around the world.

Fuel purchases

Some rewards programs partner with gas stations to give members the chance to accrue points for gas. With Wyndham Rewards, members collect two points for every gallon of gas they buy at participating Marathon gas stations. Southwest Rapid Rewards members can also earn points for Marathon fuel purchases. When a Southwest Rapid Rewards member fills up at select Marathon gas stations, they'll receive one point per gallon of gas purchased. Additional points in either program may be awarded for items bought inside a Marathon gas station's convenience store.

Wine club subscriptions

Oenophiles can rack up rewards points or miles just for doing what they love: sipping wine. Some hotel and airline rewards programs let members earn points or miles when they order vino through Vinesse Wines, a wine club that specializes in wines produced by small, lesser-known wineries. Each month's delivery includes six wines and tasting notes. Exact loyalty program earnings vary by brand, but airline rewards programs like FRONTIER Miles, Free Spirit and HawaiianMiles offer up to 5,000 miles for Vinesse Wines orders. For Choice Privileges and Best Western Rewards, two hotel rewards programs that partner with Vinesse Wines, expect to receive up to 10,000 and 12,500 points, respectively.

Online surveys

Many loyalty programs add miles or points to a member's account each time they complete an online survey about various services and products. For example, JetBlue TrueBlue awards 400 points for creating a free Jet Opinions account and completing a survey, while the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offers a minimum of 400 miles to members who sign up for The Opinion Terminal and finish one or more free surveys. Other programs, such as Wyndham Rewards and IHG Rewards Club, give participants 500 or 1,000 points after joining Opinion Rewards or Opinion Check-In and submitting their first survey. Additional points may be awarded to members who complete more than one survey.

Pet-sitting and dog walking services

Dog owners who use pet-sitting and dog walking services may want to enroll in rewards programs like American Airlines AAdvantage and Choice Privileges. Every American Airlines AAdvantage member receives 2,000 miles after completing their first booking with Rover, a network of sitters who can board dogs or cats, housesit, check on animals during the day and more. Plus, members will earn 1 mile per dollar spent on additional pet services. Choice Privileges also partners with the company to offer its members the chance to accrue one point for every dollar spent on Rover services. To take advantage of this arrangement between Choice Privileges and Rover, members must book Rover services through the Choice Privileges Rewards website.

Flower deliveries

Through partnerships with companies like FTD, Teleflora and 1-800-Flowers.com members of multiple loyalty programs can get rewarded for ordering flowers. Travelers enrolled in Radisson Rewards will accrue 1,500 points for every flower and gift basket purchase made with FTD, while Delta SkyMiles members will receive a minimum of 20 miles per dollar spent with FTD. Best Western Rewards participants collect 1,250 points every time they spend at least $29.99 on Teleflora flower deliveries. Meanwhile, Southwest Rapid Rewards members who purchase 1-800-Flowers.com flowers and gifts that cost $29.99 or more will earn 1,000 points. Orders must be placed through a program's partner link or by phone to qualify for points or miles.

Cruises

Cruisers who are enrolled in rewards programs like Marriott Bonvoy, Free Spirit and FRONTIER Miles should consider booking their next cruise vacation through their loyalty program account. For every dollar spent on cruises reserved on Marriott's Cruise with Points website, Marriott Bonvoy members will receive three points. Additionally, Free Spirit and FRONTIER Miles participants can earn up to 10,000 miles for a cruise. The number of Free Spirit miles awarded depends on how much money is spent, while FRONTIER Miles earnings vary depending on cruise duration. Some of the cruise lines that offer sailings bookable through these loyalty programs include Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line.

Currency exchanges

Of the top 24 hotel and airline rewards programs, United MileagePlus is the only one that gives you the chance to earn miles for exchanging currency. When you need to swap U.S. dollars for another type of currency (or vice versa), you'll receive up to 3,000 miles when the order is made with Travelex. Exact earnings rates are as follows: For every order less than $500, you'll accrue 1 mile per $2 exchanged; for orders $500 or greater, you'll collect 1 mile for each dollar you exchange. To earn miles, you must provide your United MileagePlus account number when making your purchase.

Groceries

Buying groceries in Alaska or Hawaii is another way you can earn frequent flyer miles. With the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, you'll collect 100 miles every time you spend $300 at Carrs-Safeway locations in Alaska. To qualify, simply link your Safeway Club Card number to your loyalty account. HawaiianMiles also gives you the opportunity to accrue miles for spending money on groceries thanks to its partnership with Foodland and Sack N Save. After signing up for a Foodland Maika'i Card and spending $250 on in-store purchases, you'll receive a My Rewards Certificate, which you can redeem with a cashier for 200 HawaiianMiles. Spend $100 on groceries while cashing in a My Rewards Certificate and you'll receive an additional 300 miles.

Charitable donations

Travelers who want to earn miles for supporting a noteworthy cause can do so with United MileagePlus or American Airlines AAdvantage. For every dollar United MileagePlus members donate to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, they'll receive 10 miles. Likewise, for every dollar American Airlines AAdvantage members give to Stand Up to Cancer, they'll accrue 10 bonus miles. All donations submitted through United MileagePlus and American Airlines AAdvantage go toward cancer research initiatives. Keep in mind, a minimum contribution of $25 is required by both programs for donations to be eligible for miles. To learn more about airline and hotel loyalty programs, see the Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20 »
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Christine Smith, Editor

Christine Smith is an Editor for the Travel section at U.S. News, where she manages the annual ...  Read more

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