Mileage earning Debit Cards and Bank Accounts

19 October, 2011

In the past year we have seen a number of mileage earning options disappear. 

First it was Chase ending their gravy train promotion of 25,000 Continental Miles with the opening of a bank account and using their Continental debit card. 

Then later this year Chase announced that it was ending the Continental Debit Card programme, along with the United Mileage Plus Debit Card programme.

More recently Citibank has decided to end their AAdvantage Debit Card programme.

The underlying reasons for the discontinuation are not the focus of this discussion, that can be addressed another time.  The topic I am trying to get across is that while credit cards will likely continue to earn miles for years to come, what about people who don’t have credit for various reasons (bad credit, no credit history at all, newcomers to the country, etc…)?  The debit cards and bank account bonuses provided a means for mileage earning which has now disappeared.  Yes there are mileage shopping malls and dining programmes and surveys for miles but the cards were arguably one of the most convenient ways to earn the miles we all wanted.  I am curious about thoughts others have on this and if they see other possibilities to take the place of debit cards sometime in the future?


United Airlines Mileage Plus Toolbar

13 August, 2011

This has been out for a while but I did not post about it because I was waiting to see if there was a bonus for downloading it which would come but apparently, it is not going to happen at least not for now.

Just like American and USAir, United now (or for a few months now) has a toolbar for making Yahoo searches which earns miles.  It is the same story as the ones for American and USAir… three searches for 1 mile… up to 100 miles per month.  Useful for preventing expiration.

What are some good free ways to get miles?

14 January, 2011

Many people know about getting miles from credit cards and of course from actually flying but there are other ways to get miles for free as well. 

Online Shopping

One of the most common is through online shopping.  Many airlines have online shopping malls where you enter in your flyer number and use their special link in order to earn miles per $ you spend.  For example you can earn 2 miles per $ you spend at if you do it through the AAdvantage e shopping link.  Air Canada, Continental, USAir, United, Delta, Cathay Pacific and many others also have shopping portals like this.  The miles are essentially free (assuming you were going to spend the money on the stuff you order anyway)


So far, AA and US have released toolbars to download which offer miles for using their search feature.  For every 3 searches you earn 1 mile up to a maximum of 100 miles per month.  The two toolbars mentioned here (also linked on this page) also help with online shopping so that you do not always have to use a link but the toolbar itself will help you get mileage credit.  Not every merchant allows this though, so sometimes you must still use the links.  In addition to the airline toolbars, the Bing Rewards toolbar gives Bing points for searches and various other things.  While these do not help with earning miles for shopping, the points can be exchanged for American miles at present.  For all of you thinking that you can just get the toolbar and make 300 searches in about an hour to get all the miles… think again, the toolbar uses some formula to determine if you are actually using it for searching or trying to game the system.  It will not award miles if you have an irregular search pattern.

Club Bing

Club Bing is a game website which awards tickets for playing various games.  The whole thing seems to be a huge excuse for Microsoft to increase its search traffic because you must search in order to complete many of the games but the games can be quite fun and the tickets can be exchanged for miles on American, Delta, USAir, Alaska Airlines, Frontier and Hawaiian.  You can earn a maximum of 11,100 miles this way to be all on one airline or split up between them in various denominations.  If you are really obsessed you could play the games and get the required tickets in about a month but for the rest of us it will take a while.  If you search on the internet there are various ways to cheat and bot the website but I cannot recommend this because if Microsoft figures this out you will never get the prizes you redeem the tickets for.  In addition to miles, the tickets can be used for all sorts of things such as books, jackets, digital cameras and netbooks.

Dining Programmes

This has had various names over time including Rewards Network and iDine.  I not think the name matters much but the programme itself is quite useful.  After registering your credit or debit card you will earn miles (or points, or cash back or various things) for every dollar you spend at participating restaurants.  This is offered by AA, USAir, Delta, Alaska, United and Southwest.  You can also earn PC or Hilton Points if you wish or even college loan savings contributions.  They all work on the same basic system, you sign up, register the card(s) and earn 3 miles per $ for the first 10 dines and then 5 miles per $ after.  From time to time they have bonuses as well which help miles rack up.

Thanks Again

Thanks Again is a bit like the dining programme but it works with dry cleaning, golfing and a few other places as well as an online shopping mall like the airlines have.  This is available for United, Delta, USAir, Continental and Alaska Airlines.  Instead of miles you can also decide to earn American Express gift cards.  For a while, if you “like” them in Facebook you would get 100 miles for free.  I am not sure if this is still happening though.

Opinion Place

For those interested in American AAdvantage miles, Opinion Place allows you to earn between 50 and 150 miles for surveys.  Qualifying is not always easy so you could go months without getting anything but you never know.  If you have too many miles you can also opt for Paypal credits or AOL credits.


This is somewhat like Opinion Place except you must be invited to participate.  Getting an E-Rewards invite is not terribly difficult if you are signed up for one of the participating programmes.  After getting invited you answer a bunch of questions about your preferences and such so it can find surveys to match your interests.  Unlike Opinion Place, if you do not qualify you still get some bit of reward, it is not huge but it is nice.  I will not list them all here but some of the partners include Priority Club, USAir, Hilton, Continental, La Quinta and Virgin Atlantic.


E-Miles is sort of a survey site but also gives miles for buying or doing certain things.  For example you may answer some questions for how soon you plan to buy a car for 5 miles but if you buy something from company A or donate to charity B you can earn extra miles.  I suppose if you are really into it you could earn quite a few miles but for the totally free ones you will probably get about 1,000 miles per year.  It is available for Frontier, USAir, Continental, Delta, Hilton, AirTran and Alaska Airlines.  You can sign up for multiple programmes if you use a different email address for each one.

This is all for the intro for now.  As I find other ways I will add some new descriptions

Student Travelling

11 December, 2010

Second time in a week I am stealing from someone else, but as every good student knows I am giving the citations as needed.  One day hopefully I will be one of the pros at this and I will be the one people are stealing from and giving the citations for.  Anyway, when I first began booking student travel I used an outfit in Canada called Travel Cuts, they are a student travel agency which offers student prices and also allows you to get an International Student Identification Card (ISIC), which is required for most of their services.  Well to be fair, the ISIC is not required for the services, it is only required if you want the student discount, so essentially it is required if you want to make the experience worthwhile.  Since Travel Cuts is owned by the Canadian Federation of Students, if you go to a university which is a member, you get the ISIC for free and there is usually a Travel Cuts office on your campus.  When I started grad school in the United States I found STA Travel, which is essentially the exact same thing but the American version.  The key differences being that STA is not owned by a student organisation, but rather is its own independent company.  This means you need to pay for the ISIC and the horrible looking photographs you need to put in it (22 USD), “travelling” is spelled with only one “l”, the people in the offices are generally much nicer to you than the Travel Cuts office in Toronto and services are not offered in French.  Unlike Canada though, STA is not the only travel office for students in the US, there is also a group called Student Universe.  These guys seem to be a totally online version, they do not have offices to verify that you actually are a student but instead they verify you by your .edu email address (thus leading me to believe this is only for American students).  Like everyone else they have a newsletter to sign up for as well.  An interesting note about them however is that they also have coupon codes.  One of the latest is with United Airlines.  They are offering 40 USD off of any United flight within the US departing between now and 18 December.  The promotion code is United40.  To be fair and give proper credit, Lucky posted about the United code here.

%d bloggers like this: