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How to Earn More Airline Miles with Dining Networks

How to Earn More Airline Miles with Dining Networks

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This article was last updated Sep 18, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

You don’t necessarily have to fly to rack up airline miles to earn a free flight: You could turbocharge your miles earnings just by joining your airline’s dining rewards program and using your favorite credit cards to pay for meals out.

An easier way to boost miles earnings

After accumulating any miles earned from a card’s sign-up bonus, unless you fly regularly, it can be tough to accrue a substantial number of airline miles after that initial bump – especially if your airline card only awards bonuses on travel. Many rewards enthusiasts rack up miles at home by using cards that let you transfer your points to frequent flyer programs. But there’s another way to boost your earnings and earn a free flight faster – and you can often use any debit or credit card to do so.

Many airlines with popular frequent flyer programs offer dining rewards programs that gift you with additional miles when you dine out. All you have to do is register at least one card with an airline dining program and use that card any time you dine at a participating restaurant. However, if your airline partners with rewards network (noted in the chart below), you can register several different cards to the same airline program. However, you can’t use a registered card for any other airline dining program in the network. Terms and conditions may apply.

Which airlines offer dining programs?

Airline How the dining program works
Alaska Airlines Use a registered card at a participating restaurant and earn between half a mile to five miles for every dollar you spend. If you’re a basic member, you’ll earn 1 Alaska mile per $2 spent. If you provide your email address and agree to receive promotional emails, you’ll become a Select Member and will earn 3 miles per dollar spent. If you agree to receive emails and dine at participating restaurants 11 times, you’ll be upgraded to VIP membership and receive 5 miles per dollar spent. Rewards network program.
American Airlines Use a registered card at a participating restaurant and earn 1 mile, 3 miles or 5 miles for every for every dollar you spend. Basic members earn 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent. If you agree to receive promotional emails, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar spent. After you’ve eaten 11 individual meals at participating restaurants and have agreed to receive emails, you’ll earn 5 miles per dollar spent. Rewards network program.
Delta Airlines Use a registered card at a participating restaurant and earn between half a mile and 5 miles for every dollar you spend.  Basic members earn 1 SkyMile for every $2 spent. Agree to receive promotional emails and earn 3 miles per dollar spent. After you’ve eaten 11 meals at participating restaurants and have agreed to receive emails, you’ll earn 5 miles per dollar spent. Rewards network program.
JetBlue Airlines Dine at a participating restaurant and earn 3 TrueBlue points for every dollar you spend. Rewards network program.
Southwest Airlines Dine at a participating restaurant and earn half a point to three points per dollar spent. If you agree to receive promotional emails, you’ll receive 3 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent. Otherwise, you’ll earn 1 point for every $2 you spend. You’ll also earn an additional 10 points every time you review a participating restaurant. Every time you earn 1,000 points, you’ll be gifted with another 300 points. Once you’ve earned your first 1,500 points from the dining program, you’ll be gifted with 500 bonus points. Rewards network program.
Spirit Airlines Use a registered card at a participating restaurant and earn between half a mile and 5 miles per dollar spent. Basic members earn 1 Spirit mile for every $2 spent. If you agree to receive promotional emails, you’ll receive 3 miles per dollar spent. After you’ve eaten 11 meals at participating restaurants and agreed to receive emails, you will earn 5 miles per dollar spent. Rewards network program.
United Airlines> Use a registered card at a participating restaurant and earn between half a mile and 5 miles per dollar spent.  Basic members earn 1 MileagePlus mile for every $2 spent. If you agree to receive promotional emails, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar spent. After you’ve eaten 11 meals at participating restaurants and opted into receiving emails, you’ll earn 5 miles per dollar spent. Rewards network program.
Hawaiian Airlines Unlike other airline dining programs, Hawaiian Airlines’ dining program only works if you use a specific Hawaiian Airlines card. Dine at a participating restaurant and earn 1 to 5.5 HawaiianMiles for every dollar you charge to your Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard or Bankoh Hawaiian Airlines Visa debit card. Mileage earnings vary depending on where you dine. HawaiianMiles MarketPlace program.
Frontier Airlines This airline dining program typically only offers bonus miles at airport dining establishments. Dine at a participating airport restaurant using a registered card and earn extra Frontier miles on every dollar you spend. You can also use the Thanks Again app to find restaurants outside the airport that participate in the network. Earnings may vary depending on where you dine. Thanks Again program.

How do you earn points in a dining program?

Earning points is easy: Once you’ve registered one or more cards with a dining program, use your registered card at any participating restaurant. Your points or miles will accrue automatically. To find a participating restaurant, just visit your airline’s dining rewards program website and search for restaurants in your area.

Some airline dining programs may even offer bonus miles if you review a participating restaurant. In addition, several dining programs offer sign-up bonuses to new users.

In many cases, you can also boost your miles earnings by submitting your email address and agreeing to receive promotions.

What to watch out for

Airline dining programs are fairly straightforward. However, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Be patient when you use a registered card to dine out. It may take several weeks for your new miles to show up in your account.
  • Read the program’s terms and conditions when you sign up. An extra rewards bonus may require some additional steps. For example, you may need to review a participating restaurant in order to earn a sign-up bonus. Or you may need to spend a certain amount.
  • Your dining membership may expire if you stop using the program for an extended period.

Maximize earning potential with double dip

If you really want to put your dollars to work and get maximum value out of your restaurant visits, use a card that earns bonus points on dining. A number of cards offer a substantial return for every dollar you spend dining out.

For example, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card (which costs $95) showers cardholders with 4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through Jan 2022. The $0 annual fee Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card rewards cardholders with 3% Cash Back on dining; 3% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases.

Similarly, the no annual fee Uber Visa Card offers unlimited 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels, and airfare, and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases.

Bottom line

Participating in your favorite airline’s dining rewards program is a great way to accelerate your miles earnings with hardly any effort. You don’t even need to track a program’s restaurant list in order to benefit: Airlines typically have so many restaurants participating in the program that odds are you’ll eventually dine at least some of them.


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