Every airline frequent flyer program, and some of the hotel chains have a partnership with the RewardsNetwork, which lists registered restaurants and hotels around the U.S. These restaurants and hotels pay frequent flyer miles above and beyond the 1 mile per dollar spent on your rewards credit card.
Once you register your credit card with the network, simply use that card when dining at an enrolled restaurant or staying at an enrolled hotel (see the search function on the RewardsNetwork site for restaurants in your area). There are restaurants in almost every location. Please note: Some restaurants have limited days of participation (no Friday or Saturday bonus).
Based on your level of participation, you will receive 1, 3 or 5 miles per dollar spent in addition to the mile for the credit card charge. In addition, there are frequently bonuses above the base earnings, especially for new members. Examples are spending a minimum within a certain time frame, or “double ups” for activity in the program.
If you are not a member of a particular frequent flyer program, sign up for the airline program first, then sign up with the RewardsNetwork affiliate for that airline. When you sign up, be sure to fill out an online profile and register at least one unique credit card to that program. It makes sense to register your Citi American Airlines Credit Card with the AA arm of the RewardsNetwork, but you don’t have to. Likewise, it makes sense to sign up your United Mileage Plus card with the United Airlines division of RewardsNetwork. You can register any card you want, but keep it simple. Remember: each credit card can only be registered with one RewardsNetwork program.
For a casual user (less than 12 dines per year), you will receive an extra 3 miles per dollar plus the original one mile for using your airline’s affiliated credit card. To reach the 3 mile per dollar level you must create an online profile with RewardsNetwork. If you don’t, you will earn only one extra mile per dollar spent. For those that dine out frequently, the bonus is an extra 5 miles per dollar. Remember, we are talking about free miles here.
When the bonuses are right, I have used this program aggressively, meaning weekly. Occasionally, I’ll find an offer of 20 miles per dollar spent. When that happens, I’ll buy a $600 gift card from the restaurant I frequent anyway. I can pick up an extra 12,000 miles for a restaurant gift card that I know I will make use of.
With the RewardsNetwork you also have the option of earning cash back, but what fun would that be?
When you go out to lunch with a friend or business associates, have them pay you in cash for their share, and put the entire bill on your airline credit card. You win, they don’t care, and you’re closer to flying for free.
RewardsNetwork also pays 5 miles per dollar on your hotel bookings with their participating hotels.