Most products on this page are from partners who may compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how they appear on the page. However, opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain. This page may include information about American Express products currently unavailable on Slickdeals. American Express is not a partner of Slickdeals.
Travel rewards credit cards can be an effective way to earn rewards for free travel quickly. But you don't necessarily need a credit card to earn rewards, though. Whether you don't have a credit card or prefer to use them only for emergencies, you can still earn travel rewards without one. Here are eight great strategies you can use to earn travel points without a credit card.
How to Earn Airline and Travel Rewards Without Credit Cards
- Book flights using frequent flyer membership: Provide your frequent flyer membership number when booking so you don't miss out on earning miles. If you have a flight coming up and aren't part of the airline's rewards program, sign up before booking. If you've already booked your flight, ask the airline if it can add your frequent flyer information to the fare.
- Sign up for dining rewards programs: Many loyalty reward programs reward you with points for dining out at select restaurants, clubs and bars. Joining these programs is free, so there's no reason not to sign up and take advantage of your spending habits to earn some extra points.
- Use shopping portals: Many travel brands also offer ways to earn points through online shopping. Online shopping portals allow you to earn extra rewards to shop at your favorite retailers.
- Take advantage of airline and hotel promotions: Airlines and hotels often run promotions that let customers earn double (and sometimes more) points for paid bookings. You can sign up for your favorite brands' rewards programs and opt-in to receive marketing emails.
- Check out airline and hotel partner programs: Airlines and hotels often partner with other companies to offer deals that earn extra points and miles. You could earn a few hundred points for grocery shopping or fuel purchases with select partners. Bigger offers could earn you tens of thousands of points.
- Download rewards apps: Using popular rewards apps is another easy way to earn valuable travel rewards. In most cases, you won't earn travel rewards directly but can redeem rewards earned for airline or hotel gift cards.
- Earn points with car rentals: For example, Hertz partners with several airlines to help you earn airline miles when you rent a car. So do Avis, Budget and several other car rental companies. Some charge a surcharge with these promotions, so verify if there is such a charge and if the deal is worth it.
- Do airlines surveys: Another way to earn some airline miles is by filling out surveys. Several airlines offer programs that pay customers (in miles) to share their opinions.
6 Best Apps to Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards
Top Frequent Flier Programs
Almost all airlines offer a rewards program that earns points or miles redeemable for flights or other redemptions. Here's a list of some of the top frequent flyer programs:
- Aer Lingus AER Club
- Aeroméxico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France Flying Blue
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific The Marco Polo Club
- Delta SkyMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Frontier Miles
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Lufthansa Miles & More
- Scandinavian Airlines EuroBonus
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- Spirit Airlines Free Spirit
- TAP Air Portugal TAP Miles&Go
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- United Airlines MileagePlus
Best Travel Credit CardsVisit the Marketplace
Dining Rewards Programs
Many dining rewards programs are tied to popular airlines and hotel brands like:
- Alaska Mileage Plan Dining
- American Airlines AAdvantage Dining
- Caesars Rewards Dining
- Delta SkyMiles Dining
- Hilton Honors Dining
- IHG Rewards Club Dining
- JetBlue True Blue Dining
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining
Once you join the program, you can search for local restaurants that participate and earn points on eligible purchases that can go towards your travel. Ensure you register the credit or debit cards you plan to use when dining to get credit for your restaurant purchases.
Each program has different guidelines, so check the fine print. Some may allow you to earn rewards for online orders and take out. Others may only reward individuals who dine in at their establishments.
The 5 Best Hotel Loyalty Rewards Programs
Travel Rewards Shopping Portals
Some popular online shopping portals include:
- American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping
- Amtrak Guest Rewards
- Delta SkyMiles Shopping
- JetBlue TrueBlue Shopping
- Shop Through Chase
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping
- United MileagePlus Shopping
- Wyndham Rewards Shopping
Instead of shopping directly with retailers, head to the shopping portal online. Search from hundreds of available retailers to find the one you want. Click on the retailer's link and start shopping and earning rewards for your purchases. Adding this one extra step can help you earn plenty of additional rewards, especially if you shop online regularly.
One Simple Trick to Earn a Free Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
Popular Airline and Hotel Partner Programs
Learn more about partner promotions from the top airlines:
Rewards Apps the Get Airline Points
Some examples of rewards apps include:
- Swagbucks is a popular rewards app that rewards users for completing various tasks such as watching videos, playing games, answering surveys, searching the internet and shopping online.
- The Miles app rewards users for participating in various types of transportation including walking, riding a bicycle, public transportation, rideshare rides, and driving your own car. Then, you can redeem those rewards for gift cards.
Airlines with survey programs include:
- Alaska Airlines (The Opinion Terminal)
- American Airlines (Miles for Opinions)
- Hilton: (Guest Opinion Rewards)
- JetBlue Airlines (Points for Surveys)
- Southwest Airlines (e-Rewards and Rewards for Opinions)
- Spirit Airlines: (Points for Thoughts)
- United Airlines (Opinion Miles Club)
- Wyndham (Opinion Rewards Panel)
The rewards payout for surveys is low considering the time involved. While it's not a huge moneymaker, filling out surveys during your spare time could be worth it.
A Roundup of Current Southwest Credit Card Deals
Can I Earn Miles or Points With a Debit Card?
While a solid travel rewards credit card is the fastest way to rack up points, you can earn travel rewards with a debit card too. You can earn points by linking your debit card to a dining rewards program and using it when shopping through a bank's online portal.
Check if your bank offers a travel rewards debit card or do some research on travel debit cards that you may be eligible for. Several banks offer rewards checking accounts that earn cash back on debit card purchases. You can use cash back earnings to offset travel costs as an alternative to earning points and miles.
How To Dispute a Charge on a Debit Card
Maximize Your Rewards With a Credit Card
If you have a travel rewards credit card, you can pair it with the above strategies to earn even more rewards. The quickest way to boost your rewards balance quickly with a credit card is to earn sign-up bonuses by hitting card spending requirements.
After earning the bonus, you can continue to earn points and miles with card spending and participate in rewards programs like those mentioned above. If you frequently eat out, signing up for a dining rewards program can help you earn some extra rewards. An online shopping portal can also be another way to bolster your rewards if you shop online frequently. Find what works for you so you can start earning more travel rewards.