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Travelers can earn thousands of miles from their flights, but how do you earn miles towards your next vacation when you're not flying? There are numerous ways to earn miles without flying that piggyback many of your normal daily habits.

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Use these 14 tips to get yourself closer to your next free trip.

1. Welcome Bonus

Getting a welcome bonus when you open a new credit card is the single biggest opportunity to earn a large number of miles. These credit card bonuses vary based on which card that you apply for, and, in most cases, you'll need to meet a minimum spending requirement in order to earn it.

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card feature generous sign-up bonuses. Furthermore, the points earned from these travel credit cards can be transferred to hotel and airline loyalty programs, which can increase the value of your points.

2. Everyday Purchases

Using your airline credit card for everyday purchases is an excellent way to earn miles for something you were going to buy anyway. Some cards offer bonus points for groceries, gas, dining and other categories, which means that you're earning extra miles on those transactions. Savvy shoppers have multiple cards to take advantage of these bonus categories.

3. Online Shopping

Shopping online is a convenient way to buy the items you want. Going through a shopping portal is a way to earn airline miles on those purchases in addition to what you earn with your credit card. All of the major U.S. airlines have their own shopping portals and they often run promotions around the holidays for even higher rewards.

4. Dining Rewards

Rewards Network offers additional rewards when you use your credit card at participating restaurants. Simply register your credit cards for your preferred airline or hotel to receive miles based on your final bill. Use the site's search function to explore new restaurants near you.

5. Renting a Car

Car rental companies often partner with airlines so customers can earn airline miles when renting a car. Although some car rental companies may charge a fee, it is often worth paying the small amount to earn miles towards a future free flight.

6. Booking a Hotel

When booking a hotel room, many hotel loyalty programs will let you earn airline miles instead of hotel points. Some will also let you convert your existing points into airline miles. You can also earn miles by booking your room through airline websites or using services like Rocketmiles.

7. Ordering Wine

For travelers that enjoy a glass of wine, you can now earn miles when ordering your next bottle. You can earn miles through a shopping portal at or from select vineyards or ordering through partnerships. American Airlines is also offering miles when you purchase wines from its new subscription service.

8. Cell Phone Service

Not only do several credit cards offer bonus miles for paying your cell phone bill, but many providers also offer a bonus when signing up for a new cell phone service. To earn the bonus, order through the airline's shopping portal. Some credit cards also offer insurance coverage for your phone when paying the monthly bill.

9. Bank Accounts

Good banking habits can also earn airline miles towards a future trip. The savings account from Bask Bank earns miles instead of interest through its partnership with American Airlines. Delta Airlines partners with SunTrust to offer a bonus upon signup and based on your debit card spending. In fact, many banks offer bonuses when you open a new account

10. Completing Surveys

When you share your opinions on products, news and other topics, you can earn miles for your favorite airline. Many survey companies, like Miles for Opinions and Opinion Miles Club, offer a bonus for signing up and completing your first qualifying survey. Then, you'll earn additional miles based on filling out more surveys that are based on your unique profile.

11. Paying for Utilities

Utility bills are a fact of life. You have to pay them to keep the lights on and your home warm. For people that live in certain areas of the country, they can earn extra miles when they sign up for utility service with airline partners, like NRG and Reliant.

12. Referring Friends to Credit Cards

Banks know that having happy customers refer their friends to credit cards is an effective marketing strategy. Many banks offer current customers bonus miles when they refer their friends and family to apply and open a new credit card. Take notice that the bank may send a 1099 at the end of the year for the value of your referral bonus.

13. Charitable Donations

Donating to charity is good for the soul, builds a stronger community, and may be tax-deductible. As an extra incentive, donating money can also earn airline miles. Some credit cards give donations bonus rewards based on your donation amount, while a few airlines, like American Airlines, award miles when donating through their link.

14. Paying Taxes

When you pay your taxes with a credit card, you can earn miles if you have an airline credit card. The IRS allows taxpayers to pay taxes with a credit card through partnerships with select providers. These providers charge a fee, so make sure that the miles you earn are worth more than the fees that you pay.


Lee Huffman

Lee Huffman spent 18 years in banking and investments and now uses that insider knowledge to write about credit cards, travel, and other personal finance topics. Lee enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better through the power of travel rewards. You can connect with him at