By Lisa Whitlaw
How can I get more points quickly and easily?
I know that’s a question I asked frequently when I first began traveling free using miles and points. It’s a question I STILL ask, but I’ve learned some great ways over time to easily increase your points balance with very little effort.
5 Easy Ways to Earn More Points for Free Travel
You don’t have to fly every week or stay in hotels for work to earn miles and points!
In fact, below are some simple ways to add to your points balance right from your own home.
1. Apply for a Credit Card
This is by far that fastest way to earn a TON of points.
If you’re able to apply for a card when it’s offering a high sign-on bonus, even better.
For example, you could apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred (Lyn’s favorite credit card) which has a steady 60,000-point bonus (though it’s been as high as 80,000 points lately) after spending a minimum $4,000 in the first 3 months.
This is one of the best travel cards, in my opinion, because of its flexibility. You can transfer these points (called Ultimate Rewards Points) to a number of hotel and/or airlines, so you don’t have to limit yourself to one brand.
However, if you largely fly Southwest or only stay with Hilton, for example, you should absolutely apply for at least one of their credit cards and earn points for flights and stays that way, as well. Every airline and every hotel offers a card of some sort; you just need to decide which cards best fit your travel needs and remember it is ok to have more than one (though we don’t recommend going overboard either 😃)!
2. Shop Through Portals
Do you know what a shopping portal is? I didn’t when I first started collecting points, but this is a great way to add points to your balance quickly!
For example, Southwest has a shopping portal called Rapid Rewards Shopping. As a Southwest Rapid Rewards member, you can start your shopping at many online retailers from their Rapid Rewards portal and earn Southwest points for making purchases — at no additional cost to you.
Let’s say you were planning to order some new clothes from Macy’s. If you start by logging into the Rapid Rewards shopping portal and then search the portal for Macy’s, you can click on the Macy’s link and currently earn 3 Southwest points per $1 that you spend. That’s WAY better than 0 points!
You’ll be surprised how many stores are on the portal and how fast the points can accumulate. This is a BIG way Lyn recommends earning frequent flyer miles and especially Southwest points that qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass as part of her Fly Families Free Program.
I know I’m doing more shopping online these days, so I always start at shopping portal. If you’re shopping anyway, you might as well earn points!
Southwest isn’t the only shopping portal. Chase (Ultimate Rewards), Delta, United, American, Wyndham, etc. all have shopping portals where you can earn points for their loyalty program.
A great way to determine where to start is by using a portal comparison site like CashBackMonitor.com. Here you can see how many points you would earn for a particular store and for a particular airline, hotel, etc. You simply click the points/miles tab at the top of the page, and you will see a list of all the stores and the points for each program.
Happy shopping and earning!
3. Pay Bills
This one never even occurred to me until I read about it, then I was like DUH! So, you might want to right this down: Pay your bills with you credit card 😊. It’s that easy.
You’ll earn at least 1 point per dollar you spend and in some cases more, depending on your card.
Now here’s the secret that you may not have thought of: Pay bills for other people and have them pay you back. This will only work if they are not a points collector, because you know they aren’t going to let you earn THEIR points.
I pay big bills for my mother, such as insurance, and she just writes me a check and I get POINTS!
Of course, you’ll want to pay your big bills with your card, too. Bills like car insurance, home owner’s insurance, school or college tuition, kids activities, etc.
I recently remodeled my bathroom and purchased all the materials with my Southwest card, which gave me just enough points to earn my Southwest Companion Pass, so one person in my family can always fly free with me. Yay!
Yes, you can earn points by eating at restaurants, purchasing carry-out or ordering in. In fact, many credit cards offer bonus points for restaurants.
For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 2x points on all dining purchases. Make sure you use a card that offers extra points for dining if you’re going to a restaurant anyway, because 2 points are better than 1 point!
Now, remember the shopping portal I mentioned above? There are dining portals, too. Southwest offers Rapid Rewards Dining, which is basically the same as the shopping portal, but for restaurants. Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for Rapid Rewards Dining
- Link any credit cards you might use to pay for dining
- Search the Rapid Rewards Dining site for participating restaurants near you
- Enjoy a meal at the participating restaurant, pay with one of your registered cards and earn points!
Again, Southwest is not the only dining program, so check your favorite travel brand and sign up for their dining program.
One important thing to know is that you can’t link the same card to two dining programs. I tried to link my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to the Southwest dining program and the Delta dining program, but it will only allow that card to be registered for one or the other. So I fixed that problem by linking a different card to my Delta SkyMiles Dining program.
Just be sure you remember what card is registered for which program or pick one program and register all cards there.
I’m sure you already knew this one 😉, and it won’t be hard to convince you that travel is a great way to earn points. But what you might not know that is some credit cards offer more points for travel purchases than other cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred, for example, also earns double points on travel, as well as dining. This would include airfare, car rentals, hotels, transportation and some vacation rentals.
A Southwest credit card will earn you extra points on Southwest purchases, and a Delta credit card will earn extra points on Delta purchases.
This is where you need to understand your credit card benefits and use the card that would earn you the most points. For example, if I’m going to purchase a flight on Southwest, I’m more likely to use my Southwest Business credit card because I will earn 3x points on that purchase as opposed to 2x points if I used Chase Sapphire Preferred.
You might think about this differently depending on how you travel and which cards you hold. If you only have a Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you could make all travel purchases using that card then transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to Southwest or another airline or hotel. Keep in mind, however, that Chase Sapphire Preferred points DO NOT qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
Chase also has a travel portal you can use to book travel and receive a discount for redeeming your Ultimate Rewards points. It’s all personal preference, but the key is to get the most points!
I hope this has given you some new, easy ways to earn more points so you can enjoy MORE free travel. Now get out there and start earning!
7 Ways to Earn Miles From Home
Enter your email to get a free PDF that shows you 7 easy things you can do to collect miles from HOME for FUTURE travel! You'll also be added to Go to Travel Gal's weekly email newsletter list.