Five Easy Ways to Maximize Earning Points & Miles

by John Terry | Last Updated:  December 12, 2019

Earning points and miles can sometimes be confusing. Because of that, we wanted to throw together an article to quickly illustrate to the reader five easy ways to maximize earning points and miles.

If you stick to these suggestions, you will earn miles more quickly toward your next redemption!

1. Get the right credit cards

Check out our beginner’s guide for more information, but it’s important to have credit cards that maximize bonus categories you are spending the most money. If you’re new, we have an article just to help you understand beginner credit card strategy.

It’s also important to make sure you’re earning transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. Transferable points protect you against devaluations from airlines and hotels. Furthermore, at the start, earning all of one currency is important because your points balance will increase quicker. Having the Chase Trifecta can help you redeem your points quicker.

It’s not smart to be putting your everyday spending on cards that don’t earn a bonus. Airline credit cards and hotel credit cards typically don’t earn bonus points for regular spending. However, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom or American Express Gold Card earn bonuses in categories like travel, groceries, restaurants, and shopping.

2. Shopping Portals

We’ve written about shopping portals in more depth, but using airline and hotel shopping portals are the single-easiest way to earn extra points and miles. Before making any online purchase, check Cashback Monitor to make sure you’re using the correct portal.

And never make an online purchase without using a shopping portal. Not only is this a good way to earn airline miles, but Rakuten, a cashback portal, is now allowing its members to earn American Express Membership Rewards. Rakuten allows for cashback (or Membership Rewards) for purchases with Amazon, as well.

3. Airline Dining Programs

Before writing about this one, I want to give a caveat: this isn’t going to have you swimming in miles, but an easy way to accidentally earn miles without doing anything. And in order to maximize earning points and miles, sometimes it needs to be an accident!

Similar to shopping portals, we wrote more about airline dining programs earlier this year, but we’ll give you the quick lowdown.

Every airline has a dining program. This means that members of the dining program can earn bonus points when dining at restaurants that are apart of it. The restaurants are very selective, but I’ve literally earned miles on accident by dining at a restaurant that was part of a dining program.

Using airline dining programs can help maximize earning points and miles.

Members can attach a credit card such as the American Express Gold Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve (that already earn a bonus on restaurants) and when that card is used a dining program restaurant, additional bonus points will be awarded!

4. American Express Offers

Cardholders of the American Express Gold Card can earn 4x Membership Rewards at worldwide restaurants. Photo by American Express.
Cardholders of the American Express Gold Card can earn 4x Membership Rewards at worldwide restaurants. Photo by American Express.

American Express Offers are a great way to save money or earn points, and they are a perk of every American Express card. Offers will either offer cashback for a certain purchase or a number of points for a purchase.

I was recently targeted for an offer involving my favorite airline, Alaska Airlines! After spending $200 with Alaska, I will receive $40 back via statement credit.

Another type of offer is awarding points for a purchase. Check out the one below: I was targeted 4x points, up to 1,500 additional Membership rewards, when shopping at Amazon. I’ll use Rakuten for this, as well, to double dip on two separate Amazon promotions earning me Membership Rewards.

Using Amex Offers is a good way to maximize earning points and miles.

If you want to take advantage of these, getting a card like the American Express Gold Card or the American Express Everyday Card could be a good fit.

5. Take advantage of promotions

The final way to maximize earning points and miles is to take advantage of the random promotions out there. Airline and hotels are always trying to entice their customers by giving extra miles or engaging with them.

There have been two recent promotions that have not only been easy but earned me a ton of miles.

Delta’s 12Status awards Seattle residents miles based on the number of passing yards the Seattle Seahawks have each week. I’ve earned more than ten thousand miles through this and all I have to do is sign-up at the beginning of every NFL season.

Similarly, also around the NFL, Marriott had a Twitter promotion that awarded members 1,000 points every week. Each NFL Sunday, Marriott would ask a (very easy) question about the NFL. All members needed to do was respond and their accounts would be credited with the bonus points.

Pay attention to the airline and hotel Twitter and Facebook accounts for info about these, but it’s a no-brainer to sign-up with they are available!

Final Thoughts

When you’re not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year or traveling a lot for work, it’s tough to see an uptick in your rewards balances! But, if you are able to maximize points and miles earning through different methods, you will be surprised at how many miles you can earn!