Best Program for Earning Miles/Points without Traveling or Credit Cards

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by vickers, Sep 16, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Hello All. Wanted to get your thoughts on the best program to earn miles/points without traveling or credit card bonuses. I believe the best program is United MIleagePlus. I have never traveled on that airline, but have already accumulated nearly 2,000 miles. I know, not alot, but Im still working on it. I have earned miles from their shopping link, opinionmilesclub.com, and erewards.com. I will soon be earning points for their dining rewards network.

    Wanted to see if this was indeed the best program to earn miles/points without traveling or using credit cards, or if I am missing out on another program. Feel free to share your success stories. Thanks.
     
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  2. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    I think it depends on what you want to do to accrue those miles. As far as shopping portals, AA seems to have the best mileage numbers...with any shopping portal, you deal with Cartera (I believe), so keep your receipts and be prepared to prove you actually bought what you bought. Programs like MyPoints and Opinion Miles Club obviously put a strong point in United's corner as well. Again, depending on how you want to accrue them will show which is the better choice.
     
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  3. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Thanks. Ill be sure to keep my receipts. :)

    I want to fly my family to meet me on business trips. Domestic only. Coach is fine.
     
  4. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

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    you might do better with a site like top cash back, then using that cash back to purchase flights. using miles does not always give you the most convienent flights
     
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  5. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Frankly, if you're not traveling frequently or using a credit card regularly, you are never going to accumulate enough FF miles to earn a free flight. You're chasing a moving target, because the miles inevitably become worth less over time. Think instead of using the miles to get cheaper "free" things (like a free one-day car rental, or free merchandise from the online site), and getting a good no annual fee cash back card instead. Cash, unlike FF miles, is always useful!

    And heed particlemn's word of warning! FF award tickets can be quite difficult to book.

    Is there any particular reason you're opposed to getting a credit card which offers a substantial miles/points bonus?
     
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  6. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Thanks. Im not opposed to getting a credit card. But im of the mindset that every little bit helps. If I can get an extra 20 miles from buying a groupon (which I do frequently) it adds up.

    And I would have to respectfully disagree with you that ill never accumulate enough FF miles for a free flight. I have never flown United, but in 3 months I have already earned over 2,000 miles doing surveys, using the shopping portal, and i am going to earn more with the dining rewards. With only 25,000 Saver Award miles, I can get a round trip,

    However, I will take your advice and look at the cash back sites, like BigCrumbs. May be a better option. Thank you.
     
  7. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    That mindset is CRUCIAL for maximizing the value of any miles/points program! And with the right credit card, you can add an amplification effect. For instance, Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on dining. Pay for you meal using that card, and you get 2x points PLUS whatever you're already earning from the dining portal.

    A credit card also allows you to convert some ordinary bills into payments that will also earn you miles. I just paid my gas and water bill online. In the past, I used to pay by check. Paying online with my credit card netted me 100 free miles, plus it was faster and saved me a stamp. What's not to like?

    At that rate of earning points, you'll get your free flight in 38 months (which isn't too bad) - BUT that only gets you a free flight for ONE of your family members. (You were talking about flying your family, not just one person.) And only if there is Saver Award availability to the place you want to fly on the dates you need it, which is not a given. To be guaranteed a flight on the exact dates you want, you'll need 50, 000 points, which at your current rate of earning will take you a little over 6 years to earn - and who knows what the program will look like in 6 years? That's the big danger of slow accumulation - miles and points inevitably devalue over time, as the airlines and hotels tweak their programs (and never in directions favorable to the consumer).

    Here are some truths about FF programs the the miles and points bloggers don't like to mention:

    Saver awards are NOT guaranteed. They can be tough to find, and often involve less desirable routings and flight times. That's because the airlines only release saver awards for those flights they don't anticipate selling out - so of course it's the less popular flights that show the most availability. If you want saver awards, you need to be very flexible with either your routing, your end destination, and your flight dates (ideally, all three).

    The difficulty of booking saver awards increases exponentially as the number of people you're trying to get an award ticket for increases. In many cases, there are only one or two saver award seats on the entire flight. To get a larger group from Point A to Point B using only saver miles, you sometimes need to be willing to split the group and put people on different flights (which can be problematic if the group includes children).

    I'm not saying participating in a mileage program is useless - but you MUST understand the limitations of these programs and how to most effectively use them if you don't want to imitate a dog chasing its tail.

    You're welcome. and welcome to the wonderful world of miles and points!
     
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  8. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

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    cards like the chase sapphire prefered also come with a shopping portal thru chase, i have found that most of the time the pay out is higher in chase portal than in the airlines portal, chase points with the sapphire prefereed card can transfer to united, but can also be used to book a flight at 1.25 cents per point so a 150 RT flight can be had for 12,000 chase points, the points are also worth 1 cent each in cash.

    that being said collecting points from all your regular activities is great and it will add up over time, and they are better than nothing, but many find at a slow earnign rate that cash back has more value and flexability.
     
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  9. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Appreciate your insight. Im new to all this and just getting my feet wet. :)
     
  10. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Great point. My family likes movies. One of my favorite shopping games is this one:

    United Mileage Club Shopping Portal
    BestBuy.com
    Purchase Movie with Capital One Quicksilver Card

    I earn 1 mile per dollar through United.
    I earn 1.5 points per dollar as a Best Buy Elite member, and free shipping on all orders.
    I earn 1.5% cash back from Capital One.

    I have tried several times to get a chase card, but cant seem to get approved. Same with AMEX. My current Transunion score (from Credit Karma) is 690.
     
  11. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

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    the chase freedom card is easier to get approved, it offers the same shopping portal but sometimes with different pay out amounts, it earns cash back 1% on all plus 5 % on roaling catagories you sign up for. if you save the cash abck points and later are able to get a saphire prefered card you can transfer them to the sapphire then to united
     
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  12. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    You're learning quickly! When you get your credit score up a bit (which will happen inevitably if you use your current credit wisely) you'll eventually qualify for one of the Chase cards which offers big UA or Ultimate Rewards bonuses, and then you'll be ready to turbo-charge your mileage earning, since you've already adopted the needed mental approach.
     
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  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Calculate your "pay rate" for doing those surveys.
     
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  14. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Mine's pretty good - but that's because I do them in the evening before going to bed, when I wouldn't be doing anything else important. Taking the survey is just using up time I'd otherwise be spending mindlessly web-surfing or reading the latest best seller. But you're raising a very important point - there's an opportunity cost associated with accumulating "free" miles and points (even if it's just the loss of the cash back you'd be getting if you used a different credit card), and a wise player of this game is always evaluating things to make sure the opportunity cost for gaining those points and miles isn't too high.
     
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  15. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    The accrual rate without flying and without credit card spend is abysmal. Some would argue that churning is the definitive way to go, but that's not an option for some people.

    Remember you can also earn from various promos, or even from opening an investment account or switching insurance companies -- albeit that requires a serious commitment :)

    You can try some manufactured spend with a debit card like the Delta one from SunTrust, and while it seems like they're starting to notice people that do this and frown upon it, you might as well jump in while you can, considering that both Chase and Citi have nuked their options for mileage-earning debit cards.

    And don't forget to check on evrewards whenever you're making any sort of sizeable purchase.
     
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  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    There are lots of other things you could do at that time that is ultimately more productive.

    - Spend a few minutes each day to learn a new language
    - talk with your kids/friends/family
    - learn a new skill that makes you better at your job
    ...
    - write a blog post that hawks credit cards (think any of the card bloggers bother with surveys when they could instead use those 10 minutes to crank out another "5 best cards you need to consider NOW" post?)
     
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  17. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Always time to crank out a few surveys. ;)
     
  18. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Sure, I COULD do those things. It's just that I know I won't, not right before bed. That's time when I want to do something mindless and relaxing; since I don't find the surveys stressful, I've just swapped them in as my latest "mindless thing to do to unwind before bed" activity instead of something else equally mindless but less financially productive.

    But I get what you're saying. I haven't yet joined a dining program because to date I haven't found any that include restaurants where I actually eat - and I'm not willing to go out of my way when I eat out right now just to get miles. Right now, for me that's a bad tradeoff. And most of my online shopping is with Amazon, so the shopping portals don't work very well for me, either. But I'll still keep checking the programs in case something changes in the future. And I'll keep putting my current dining on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card instead of paying cash and using a miles card for my Amazon payments, because the tradeoff there is negligible.

    It's all about balance and making sure you're not putting TOO much valuable time and energy into chasing hard-to-redeem rewards, since both are limited commodities.

    Unfortunately for my ff mile accounts, I think that particular niche is completely full. :D
     
  19. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Really wish Amazon and EBay were included in shopping sites. And Etsy for Mrs. Vickers. lol
     
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  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Wanna do some surveys for me? ;)
     
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  21. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Amazon used to but they're gone now. That's where a mileage earning credit/debit card come in handy, since you can basically earn miles for anything you buy. It's not as lucrative when you earn 1 mile per $2 spent for some merchants, but it's better than 0 miles :)
     
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  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I haven't used a credit card at Amazon in over a year. I load up my account with gift cards I buy at my grocery store, where I get 2X UA or CSP or whatever, so double the earnings I would get from a straight Amazon credit card purchase.
     
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  23. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    No worries about having you account shut down for too many gift card purchases? It sounds like a great idea, but after hearing some of the horror stories over on FlyerTalk about Chase shutting down accounts abruptly, I'm nervous about trying it.
     
  24. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    A few $50 dollar Amazon gift cards here and there thrown in with my regular groceries? No way, that is not a concern.

    I did come across a convenient source of Vanilla Reloads this week on a trip, and I am stocking up. Unfortunately I don't have all my good cards with me, but the purchases the last couple days beat my annual Amazon spend.
     
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  25. SuperKirby

    SuperKirby Gold Member

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    Don't pay attention to the CK score, its their own scoring, not a real FICO. There have been many times where it was actually 50 points off from my real FICO!

    Rather then look at score, look at other factors. Chase loves very low Utilization, and very few INQs in the last 6-12 months. How many hard pulls do you have in the last 12 months and where is your Utilization?
     

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