One of my favorite (and probably one of the easiest) ways to earn some additional miles is through the airline’s dining programs. The frequent flyer programs for most of the major U.S. airlines contract with the Rewards Network to offer 2, 3 or 5 miles per dollar spent at certain restaurants within the U.S. How many miles you earn per dollar spent depends on how many dines at selected restaurants you have had, as well as whether you opt in to receive their promotional e-mails (which are limited in number and easy enough to just delete).
Best of all, the programs all generally offer a great sign-up bonus for spending $30 (tip included) on your first dine at one of the selected restaurants!
The following airlines offer dining programs through the Rewards Network:
|Airline Program||Dining Program Link||Sign-Up Bonus|
|American AAdvantage||AAdvantage Dining||1,000 miles after $30 dine|
|Delta Skymiles||SkyMiles Dining||3,000 miles after 3 dines|
|United MileagePlus||MileagePlus Dining||3,000 miles after 5 dines|
|Spirit Free Spirit||Free Spirit Dining||1,000 miles after $30 dine|
|Jet Blue True Blue||True Blue Dining||None currently|
|Alaska MileagePlan||MileagePlan Dining||1,000 miles after $30 dine|
|Southwest RapidRewards||RapidRewards Dining||750 miles after $25 dine|
Once you sign-up, all you have to do is link your credit card(s) to the account and spend as you normally would. If you are spending at a qualifying restaurant, you will get an e-mail letting you know that you have earned a number of bonus miles.
One thing to note about the dining programs is that in order to be eligible for the sign-up bonus, you will need to complete a review of the eligible restaurant you dined at within 30 days of your dine. This really is not that big of a deal and only takes a few minutes at most.
Can I Sign-Up for All of These Programs?
Absolutely! You can sign up for as many or as few as you would like. The only caveat is that you can only link one credit card to one dining program. In other words, if you have an American Express PRG registered to your American AAdvantage dining account, you cannot have that same card registered simultaneously with your Jet Blue True Blue dining account. This is how the Rewards Network prevents you from double-dipping on this promotion. But there is nothing stopping you from opening an American AAdvantage dining account, earning the sign-up bonus with your Amex PRG, then opening an Alaska MileagePlan dining account, adding that same Amex PRG, and earning the sign-up bonus with that same card. Your credit card(s) will be linked to the most recent dining account you registered it in.
Is There Any Cost?
Nope! These Rewards Network dining accounts are all offered free of charge to you so long as you have an associated airline frequent flyer account.
How Do I Maximize My Dining Accounts?
My general rule of thumb is to link my co-branded cards to that particular dining program (i.e., my Citi AAdvantage Platinum is linked to my AAdvantage dining account), and then to link my current everyday spend card(s) to the dining program of the airline that I am planning a redemption on in the future. That allows me to always have my dining program miles going to my airline of choice.
Will I Still Earn My Credit Card Points?
Absolutely! The Rewards Network dining accounts are separate and distinct from your credit card rewards so you will still earn those credit card points. For example, if you used an Amex PRG registered to your AAdvantage dining account for a dine at an eligible restaurant that cost $40 including tip, you would earn 80 Amex Membership Rewards points PLUS anywhere from 40-200 AAdvantage miles for that dine! Just for having the card registered to your dining account!
Are The Eligible Restaurants Only High-End?
Not at all! The Rewards Network dining options vary greatly from low-key, inexpensive options to excellent higher-end restaurants, and everything in between. While I rarely go out of my way to go to a Rewards Network restaurant specifically because it is on the list of eligible restaurants, I do find it great to randomly see some extra miles show up in my accounts when I do not realize I am dining at an eligible restaurant. Those are surprises I can support!
Airline dining programs are among the easiest ways to earn some additional miles for no extra out of pocket expense. It takes less than 5 minutes to sign up for the various dining programs and link your credit cards to the account(s). Once that is done all you have to do is sit back and rack up the miles for spending on dining which you would already do!
How many miles have you earned from airline dining programs?