Step 4: Shopping Portals and Dining Programs

Next you’ll want to log in to your preferred airline’s shopping portal and dining programs for extra easy miles.

Shopping Portals

Shopping portals allow you to earn extra miles on your online purchases.  First, login to the portal.  Second, search for the store that you want to shop from.  Third, read the fine print.  Fourth, click the link to the store’s website and start shopping.  Several times throughout the year the shopping portals will run promotions where you can earn bonus miles for spending a certain total amount through the shopping portal in a given time period.

AA shopping

(This picture is a screen shot from the American Airlines shopping portal.  The companies listed here are a small sample of the offers available on a shopping portal)

Links to shopping portals:

A few things to watch out for.  Most portals say that purchases made using coupon codes not listed in the portal and the purchase of gift cards are not eligible for additional miles awarded through the shopping portal.  In practice, the portals have a spotty record in enforcing the fine print rules so proceed at your own peril.  Once I purchased a gift card through a shopping portal from Sears and received both the 6 miles/ dollar and a bonus 300 miles for the shopping portal’s back to school promotion, even though the portal stated it would not award miles for the purchase of Sears gift cards.

Dining Programs

Dining programs allow you to earn extra miles (usually 3-5 miles/ dollar spent) at various restaurants and cafes.  First, you log into the dining program for your preferred airline.  Second, you link one of your credit cards to the program.  Third, go to a restaurant that participates in the program and pay with the credit card that you linked to the program.  You’ll receive miles through the portal and what ever rewards your credit card offers.  Note: you most likely cannot link the same credit card to more than one dining program.  I tried it for American and United–it didn’t work.  The dining programs usually offer signup promotions where you receive 200-6,000 miles for your first purchase at a participating restaurant.

Links to dining programs:

aa dining

(This is a screen shot from the American Dining Program.  The flags represent participating restaurants in DC)