These days, it seems that earning miles for flights is harder than before—many loyalty programs have shifted to a system that awards miles for the price of a ticket rather than distance flown. That’s why it can pay off to know how to bring in large quantities of miles for big-ticket purchases that you might have overlooked before.
1. Opening a new credit card
We’ve already told you how credit cards can help you amass miles and gain airline status, but here’s a refresher: If you’re looking for a new credit card, there are some great offers out there with big-time sign-up bonuses like 50,000 points for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard after spending $3,000 within 90 days. It also comes with a 5 percent rebate on point redemptions and double points on all purchases, which make these major mileage-earning opportunities even more valuable.
2. Buying or selling a house
If you’re on the market for a new home (or mortgage), there are perks you should know about before signing a contract. Companies like Miles from Home Realty Services or American Home Miles connect you with a real estate agent who is willing to take a smaller commission than a traditional agent might in order to reward you with bonus miles for working with them.
They typically offer a flat bonus like 50,000 miles for buying a home or a preset number of miles for each $10,000 in the purchase price. The latter can bring in a nice stash of miles if you play your cards right.
The homes they show you and the services they render are no different from those that a real estate agent you might find on your own offers, except for the fact that they rely on this portal to funnel more clients directly to them. It’s a win-win for everyone (especially if you have big vacation plans in the works).
3. Pay taxes to Uncle Sam
When it comes to America’s least favorite pastime, the sore subject of paying taxes rarely brings a smile. But for eager travelers or those who have signed up for a lucrative credit card offer needing a minimum spend requirement, paying taxes with a credit card could be a fantastic opportunity.
Numerous providers allow people to pay taxes with a credit card, for an additional fee of 1 to 3 percent. While this might seem an excessive cost (albeit one that is not tax-exempt), it makes sense for those interested in boosting their credit card mileage earning or needing to meet a spending requirement to rack up bonus miles. Cards like Delta American Express Platinum and Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite cards provide elite status bonus miles for reaching certain spending thresholds.
4. Pick up some new wheels
Of course, any person interested in buying a new card can attempt to negotiate payment via credit card (some car dealers won’t allow it while others only permit a portion to be paid by card). Many car dealers are willing to accept a partial payment with a credit card, but Mercedes-Benz dealers have an agreement with United to offer buyers bonus miles for the purchase of a new car.
5. Go sailing
Cruises are a popular vacation, but many people miss out on a huge opportunity when making a reservation. Most major airlines offer cruise vacation programs that provide bonus miles for booking a cruise through their affiliated travel agency. Delta and American have cruise partnerships that offer trips at the same prices as the major cruise lines, but United has one of the most lucrative programs with United Cruises. Travelers can earn as many as 8 miles per dollar spent if they hold the United-branded Chase credit card and book a site. This means that a $5,000 cruise could rake in as many as 40,000 miles.
6. Flying private
For those who can afford to fly private, kudos. It comes with amazing benefits like avoiding snarling security lines and rude airport staff plus the convenience of leaving when you want to go. But many travelers may be missing out on one of the best perks of flying with scheduled airlines: miles! Delta Private Jets awards fliers bonus miles for using private jets within its network. It also awards Diamond Medallion status for those who book its highest locked-in rates.
7. Donate money to charity
Nonprofit organizations rely on the kindness of others to help support their operations, and giving money should always come from your heart. Throw in a few bonus miles, and many do-gooders have extra incentive. October is breast cancer awareness month, and the well-known Susan G. Komen Foundation offers up to 20 miles for each dollar donated to the organization. Founded by Ambassador Nancy Brinker, a notable American philanthropist whose sister suffered a battle with breast cancer, the charity is committed to finding a cure.
Obviously, donors should be focused on the humanitarian purpose, but some bonus miles can always sweeten the pot. The National Foundation for Cancer Research will also donate 10 miles per dollar donated (above a $25 minimum) as well. It partners with American, Delta, and United to award miles. American also has a partnership to give miles for donations via Stand Up To Cancer.
United offered miles for donating to Hurricane Matthew through the American Red Cross. While the deadline to receive miles for a donation has passed with United, there is a similar offer available via American between now and October 31 for those who donate at least $50.
Even if you don’t earn miles, many charities accept donations of frequent flier miles that can help them to fly patients for treatment among other money-saving uses. If you have extra miles that you don’t think you will be able to use, donate them to a charity instead of letting them expire. American, Delta, and United all have similar programs.