Step 10: Earning More Points

If you’ve followed the previous steps, you’re set up in all the major loyalty programs and have a pretty good idea of how to leverage credit cards to gain amazing bonuses toward free travel. This post is all about earning miles, points, and cash back every day through the use of category spending bonuses, shopping portals, and dining.

Category Spending Bonuses

Standard rewards credit cards (the ones that offer big sign-up bonuses) typically offer 1-2 points per dollar on your spending. There are many credit cards that offer increased payouts at certain merchants.

Examples:

  • The Ink Plus card offers 2x points on gas and hotel stays, and 5x points at office supply stores and on cable and internet bills.
  • The AMEX Blue Cash Preferred offers 3% cash back at gas stations and 6% cash back on purchases at grocery stores.
  • Many co-branded airline and hotel cards offer increased points per dollar when you spend money on corresponding airline and hotel stays.

By strategically choosing which credit card to use at different types of merchants, you can earn even more miles and points you can put toward free travel.

Shopping Portals

In step one I listed eight sites that offer cash back for shopping online. Many of the airlines have their own shopping portals as well. For example, if you want to buy something online from Sears, the standard way to do that is by going to the Sears.com website. But if you log in to a shopping portal first and click through to Sears.com from there, you’ll earn points, miles, or cash back for every dollar you spend at Sears. It’s a true no-brainer to earn free miles, points, or cash back for online purchases you planned on making anyway.

List of airline, hotel, and cash back shopping portals

There are a lot of portals out there. The following websites will quickly tell you which portal is paying out the highest amounts at merchants you select. I’ve had more luck with cashbackholic staying updated, but sometimes it doesn’t include some of my favorite portals.

Rewards Network Dining

Many of the major domestic airline and hotel loyalty programs have associated dining rewards programs. You can earn between 1-5 additional miles per dollar spent at restaurants who choose to participate in the program. This means you not only earn points for spending on your rewards credit card, but also double dip points from Rewards Network!

Participating Loyalty Partners: Alaska, American, Delta, Hilton, IHG, Southwest, United, and US Airways

Main Link

You can sign up for all of the programs and link a credit card to each. Keep in mind that you can only have a single card registered to a single program.

There is a convenient search function to find participating restaurants in your area.

At the end of this step:

  • You’re aware of category spending bonuses on credit cards.
  • You’re aware that any online shopping you do in the future can earn you free miles, points, or cash back with less than a minute of extra effort.
  • You understand Rewards Network dining and hopefully some of your favorite restaurants are on the list!