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Nov 04

Eating and Shopping for Fun and Miles

As we approach the holidays, you’ll get more and more offers to help separate you from your cash. Just remember Rule #1: Never shop without getting something back for it.

Dining for Miles

Miles with your potatoes?

Miles with your potatoes?

Crude but effective. Restaurants that have trouble generating traffic at a particular time of day (or at all) are willing to partner up with rewards companies to offer rewards for eating there. Surprisingly, I haven’t found the quality of these restaurants to be any worse than their competitors. They’re often new or simply want more traffic in the afternoon.

Most airlines (and a few hotels) have teamed up with Rewards Network, the service that funds these promotions (in return for a healthy chunk of the check). All you have to do is hook up your credit card to the dining program of the particular company where you want to earn points, and that’s it. Whenever you eat at a participating restaurant and use the enrolled credit card, you’ll get miles. Even if you didn’t know that the restaurant is a participant (Each partner has a list of participating restaurants.), you’ll still get miles, since they track your credit card, not your intentions. I’ve met with the company that runs these programs and they swear up and down that these partnerships drive sales for the restaurants. Hey, not your issue.

It is free to sign up for these programs. It costs you nothing if you never eat at one of these restaurants. There is only upside. Note that you can only have one credit card per program, so if you have more than one credit card, be sure to attach them to different loyalty schemes. You can read more about the dining for miles (and get the links to the different airlines) here.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.28.17 AM

There are always sign-up bonuses for dining programs, but the best one right now is from Delta, where you can earn up to 3,500 bonus miles for visiting restaurants. They do ask you to fill out a short survey when you are done, but it’s doable in minutes.

Online Shopping

I can’t stress this one enough. If you’re shopping online for gifts, flowers or anything else, please do it through a shopping portal, either one that will earn you miles or one that gets you cold, hard cash. It’s easy. First, determine the program where you want to earn. Then, visit that site through the program (They are listed in the links in the previous sentence.). If you want cash, the link above lists several of the best programs. If the store you want to shop at participates (and most major retailers do), just access their site through the airline’s/cash back company’s link. And then shop. All that these sites do is route you to the merchant. You’ll go to the same website with the same prices. The merchants simply give the airline/cash back site a commission, which they share with you. If you prefer cash back, the best rebates are from Discover, but you do need a Discover card for that.

If you do any of your shopping at Amazon, note that they only gives cash back in certain categories. If your category is not included, consider Amazon Smile, which will donate a fraction of the sale to a charity.

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Note: This post may contain credit card affiliate links. All credit card proceeds are donated to charity.

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