I always just assume everyone who's a member of an airline rewards program obsesses over ways to maximize earning the way I do. But apparently, I'm an insatiable miles whore. I always want more, more, more.
Of course, the traditional way is to simply earn air miles for flying your favorite airline, but racking up enough miles to get a free trip can take forever if you're not a frequent traveler. If you want to really see your miles explode, a credit card dedicated to your rewards program will get you free trips lightning fast. But one of my favorite ways to earn rewards is through Rewards Network restaurant programs. Simply choose your preferred airline program (American, Southwest, Delta, Jet Blue, Spirit, Alaska or United) then register every credit or debit card you have. Yep, even the non-airline ones.
A huge list of participating restaurants offers you points simply for dining. Dine often enough and get VIP status, which gets you even more points per dollar spent. For example, I have the American Airlines program and I earn five miles per dollar at every restaurant (even my favorite yogurt shop). To date this year, I've accumulated an extra 3,000 AAdvantage miles for dining out—something I would've done anyway. What's even better, I often get an alert that I earned hundreds of miles at a restaurant I didn't even realize was part of the program, often in a city I was visiting on vacation. If you're strategic and only seek out restaurants that offer miles when head out to eat, you could easily earn enough for a free round-trip in less than a year.
It's easy, delicious, and—unlike the free flight you're trying to earn—you don't have to get stuck in a middle seat.