How to hack free travel: 10 smart ways to earn miles
Just because you don't actually travel doesn't mean you can't earn tons of free miles.
I used to travel for business all the time. Like, constantly.
Then I grew sick of it. I got another job. (Well, that wasn't the only reason.)
One of the big benefits of traveling so much for work was that I banked a ton of miles, but when I stopped traveling, I stopped accruing.
That was a mistake. It turns out that even if you never board a redeye back to New York or D.C., or check into a hotel in Seattle on a Tuesday evening (for example), you can still bank tons of miles by doing things you're already doing.
If you're not reading Stephanie Rosenbloom's New York Times column, The Getaway, you might want to check it out. (Also, download free bonus content: 8 Things That Make Air Travel Less Disgusting -- most are free or cheap.)
Here are 10 of the everyday ways Rosenbloom suggests hooking up frequent flyer programs to earn miles all the time. For example, you should be earning miles while you...
1. Buy stuff you'd buy anyway.
Check out ereward.com before you make just about any major purchase. In addition, Rosenbloom suggests it should be like second nature to earn miles while online shopping at almost anywhere from Apple to WalMart, by going through the airlines' portals before visiting the retailers' sites.
"For each dollar spent at stores as varied as Neiman Marcus, Walmart, Apple, Sephora and Groupon, you receive miles," Rosenbloom writes. "For instance, a recent offer on Spirit's mall was four miles for each dollar spent on Etsy."
2. Go to the movies (or cheer on your favorite sports team).
Next up, link your frequent flyer account to certain ticket websites, you can get miles for going to see movies, sporting events, theater performances, and other events.
Rosenbloom suggests connecting your American, Delta or United account with sites like AudienceRewards.com, or linking up with ScoreBig (partners with JetBlue, Southwest, United, and Hilton).
3. Make more money (hopefully).
It takes a disciplined person to open and close credit cards quickly to take advantage of free miles offers, or to deposit money with a brokerage just for the miles. But these do represent opportunities.
Deposit $25,000 with Fidelity for example, and you'll get 15,000 American Airlines miles, Rosenbloom suggests. Delta and United have similar programs.
View the best jobs for you if you love to travel:
4. Beautify yourself.
If you're buying beauty products anyway, this is a great opportunity to look for mile linkage opportunities. (In fact, if you're buying just about any high-margin product, there's a very good bet that a little online searching will turn up miles programs.)
Rosenbloom specifically cites Spafinder Wellness 365, which has partnerships with Delta, American and JetBlue as an indulgent way to earn miles.
5. Drink wine. Also, drink wine.
This one's so nice, we said it twice. Rosenbloom suggests earning miles on American, Delta and United by singing up for Vinesse wine club, or earning miles with JetBlue through Club W.
6. Binge watch.
Got DirectTV? No? Good. Boom: 25,000 miles through American or United for signing up. Rosenbloom also mentions Sprint, where you can get 20,000 miles on American for singing up new service.
7. Use electricity.
This one seems a bit more obscure, but if it applies, great. Rosenbloom points out that some solar energy companies offer miles on American, JetBlue and United if you become a customer.
8. Rest your tired head.
It's an amateur trick, but if you're booking a hotel or renting a car, you can usually get airline miles instead of accruing points in the hotel's or car rental company's program. Rosenbloom also suggests signing up for Rocketmiles, which gives you points on JetBlue just for booking travel.
9. Nom nom nom ...
Yep, you can earn miles while eating out. Rosenbloom suggests looking for "airline dining program from American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest or United and then whenever you eat at a participating restaurant, you'll earn miles."
10. While you are literally earning other miles...
This one is my favorite, and it's your reward for reading to the end of the article. The idea is to use a miles-generating card to pay for the other items on this list. For example, Rosenbloom suggests the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
"The sign-up bonuses alone can be enough for a free flight or hotel stay (the current offer is 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months). And then you regularly earn points if you pay your bills, like phone and cable, with it," she writes.
There are many other opportunities of course--Bloom field suggests car services and charitable giving for example. Let us know your best suggestions in the comments, and don't forget to download the free bonus content: 8 Things That Make Air Travel Less Disgusting -- most are free or cheap. And check out Rosenbloom's article in the Times for more ideas.
RELATED: Check out these 4 travel hacks we tested out for you