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Today’s post is another in a series of how you can earn miles for doing things that you might still do otherwise. This “Dining for Miles” is a subset of what we call “Manufactured Spending” – the art of spending money without actually spending any extra money, which is of course an important skill to master when you’re trying to get a big balance of points and miles.
How it works
It’s actually pretty easy – you just sign up, register certain credit cards, and then any time you use those credit cards at a participating restaurant (which is most of them), you’ll earn miles based on the amount of that transaction (generally speaking it’s 5 miles per dollar spent)
Dining for miles promotions
There are often (sometimes targeted) promotions that various dining for miles programs will offer to get you to spend money through their portal. You can see in the image of the American AAdvantage Dining above that they are currently offering 2,000 miles for joining the program. Additionally, I referenced another such promotion as part of my discussion of American Express Small Business Saturday at the end of November.
That one was for 10,000 bonus miles for dining 10 different times (and spending $40 each time), though I wasn’t targeted for that specific one.
As I understand it, generally speaking to earn the miles, you do not have to do anything except have your card linked, though there are occasions for specific promotions where you must log on to the dining site and leave a review of the restaurant. These don’t have to be anything special, I think they’re just to weed out people that sign up but don’t follow through on it.
Don’t eat out just to get miles
It hopefully goes without saying, but don’t eat out at restaurants / spend money just to get miles. One of my favorite sayings is that buying something you don’t need at 75% off is still wasting 25% of your money.
So I would not recommend “Dining for Miles” solely to earn airline miles as it’s not a particularly effective way to do so. Still, even cheapskates with a family of 8 like me go out to eat SOMETIMES (though in my case not super often), so with a bit of planning, can earn extra airline miles or hotel points on those purchases.
Enrolling in multiple dining for miles programs
Here’s a list with links to all (most?) of the dining for miles programs. It looks like it’s only the US-based carriers that have them as well as some US-based hotels
- Delta – SkyMiles Dining
- American Airlines – AAdvantage Dining
- US Airways – Dividend Miles Dining
Southwest – Rapid Rewards Dining
- United – MileagePlus Dining
- Spirit – Free Spirit Dining
- Alaska – Mileage Plan Dining
The only catch is that these dining programs are all run by the same company (Rewards Network). So I know you were planning on signing the same card up at EVERY SINGLE one of these sites and get 5 Delta miles, 5 American miles, 5 Hilton HHonors points, etc. for each dollar of spend.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that (though it would be awesome if it did!!) As you can see with United’s home page above, it’s pretty much exactly the same (though the people seem to be having more fun?). You can only have one card active with one particular program at a time. So if you register your Chase Freedom card with Alaska’s Mileage Plan Dining, and then register it with Delta’s SkyMiles Dining site, you’ll only earn the 5 Delta Skymiles per dollar (and with Delta devaluing their award chart recently, why would you want to do that?!?!)
Dining for Miles is a great way to keep points from expiring
This is a great way to keep your points from expiring. I have about 3,000 US Airways points that are about to expire (I know because I track all my points and miles using Award Wallet). I got them as part of the Barclays US Airways credit card with my first churn, used most of them to pay for my flights to Miami on my first ever trip paid for with miles and points, and still have a few left.
I’d like to make sure those miles don’t expire before they’re converted to AAdvantage miles some time in 2015, so I will be linking one of my cards to the US Airways Dividend Miles Dining program and using that on an upcoming dining purchase
Have you ever used a dining for miles program – what was your experience? Let us know in the comments!