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Loyalty Rewards Points and miles can save you a lot of money on travel expenses. The most popular method to earn is by using travel rewards credit cards to earn welcome bonuses, points, or miles for every dollar spent on travel and everyday purchases.

These rewards can be redeemed for flights, hotels, rental cars, and other travel expenses, which can save you a significant amount of money over time. While travel credit cards are a great way to save on travel, it’s not the only way.

I’ve been researching and earning loyalty rewards points since 2015 and know that it’s possible to earn points and miles without always applying for new credit cards. In fact, using non-credit card strategies is a great way to build the foundational knowledge you need to get into this game of earning loyalty rewards with credit cards.

So, if you’re looking for ways to get started without committing to new credit cards, these 7 strategies will get you to where you need to be!

Note: Don’t get me wrong, I do LOVE credit cards. Check out my current strategy.

Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

7 Ways to Earn Points that Do Not Require a Credit Card

Sign up for loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are the greatest invention! Almost every major airline, hotel, and rental car company offers a loyalty program that allows you to earn points or miles when you use their services.

Signing up for these programs is easy, usually free, and can be done online in just a few minutes. Once you’re signed up, you can start earning rewards every time you book a flight, stay at a hotel, rent a car, etc.

Loyalty programs can offer perks like early check-in, late check-out, free upgrades, and access to exclusive lounges. Some programs also offer elite status tiers that come with additional benefits like priority boarding, free baggage check, and bonus rewards.

Now, joining loyalty programs alone will not get you enough rewards to earn free travel in the short term. It can be a slow process and it depends on how often you are utilizing their services. But establishing a relationship with the company as early as possible will only help you in the long run!

Take advantage of promotions

Promotional banner from Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy offering 40,000 bonus points for a limited time with an image of a luxurious poolside villa.

Travel rewards bonus promotions are a great way to earn extra points, miles, or other rewards on top of what you already earn from your credit card (if you have one) or loyalty program.

These promotions can come in a variety of forms, such as bonus points for meeting spending requirements, bonus miles for booking and traveling on specific dates or staying at certain brands to achieve elite status.

For example, Marriott was running a promotion where you could earn 40,000 bonus points per 4+ night stay when you booked a property through Marriott Homes & Villas. That’s nuts!

One catch is that these promotions usually come with a short booking window (not always), so it can feel like you need to drastically adjust your plans just for a specific bonus. But you really don’t. Promotions come and go and if they fit within your plans or only take a slight adjustment then you should definitely go for it!

To stay up to date on these bonus promotions, keep an eye out for emails. Many credit card companies and loyalty programs will send out emails or notifications to their members when a new promotion is available.

Another way to find travel rewards bonus promotions is to do some research online. There are many websites and forums dedicated to travel rewards programs (like my Facebook group!) that can provide information about the latest promotions and how to take advantage of them.

Just remember, that you don’t need to chase every single promotion that becomes available. If it works with your travel plans great! But if it doesn’t, don’t worry another one will come along. Don’t stress about it!

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Dining programs

Who doesn’t love going out to eat?! Dining programs allow you to earn bonus points or miles for a variety of travel rewards programs simply by dining at participating restaurants and paying with a linked credit or debit card.

To get started with a dining program, you’ll typically need to sign up online and link any credit card or debit card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to search for participating restaurants in your area and view their rewards offers.

When you dine at a participating restaurant, simply pay with your linked card and the bonus rewards will automatically be credited to your rewards account. Easy! Some dining programs even offer additional rewards for writing a review or taking a survey about your dining experience.

If you don’t use credit cards for dining (but why?), don’t worry – a debit card works just as well. Just make sure that every card you actively use is connected to a dining program. Don’t add cards you don’t use, as it won’t benefit you.

You can’t connect the same credit card to multiple dining programs simultaneously, as they all pretty much use the same system and will catch on. If you do, you’ll receive an email notifying you that the card has been transferred to a different program.

Just make sure that one active card is always attached to one dining program. If you want you can add multiple cards to one dining program, but sometimes it’s good to diversify if you have more than one loyalty program that you’re trying to collect points for.

But how do you find dining programs? You can use Google and search “(Insert Airline or Hotel Chain) Dining Program” or you can grab my free cheat sheet and I have a list of some great ones!

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Shopping Portals

Shopping portals are an excellent tool to make your everyday purchases count! These websites allow you to earn cash back, points, or miles on purchases made through their portal at a variety of retailers, including many popular travel booking sites.

Before you shop online go to Cashback Monitor or Evreward to find out which shopping portals have the best offers for your selected retailer.

Comparison table of cashback, travel miles/points, and credit card points from various portals for Home Depot purchases, with highest rates highlighted.
Cashback Monitor showing the best offers for Home Depot

Probably the most popular shopping portals if you’re not looking for travel credit card rewards are Airline shopping portals.

Airline Shopping portals such as American Airlines AAdvantage Shopping or United MileagePlus Shopping, offer bonus miles for making purchases at certain retailers through their portal and can be a great way to earn extra rewards while doing your regular shopping.

To use airline shopping portals, simply sign up for an account and log in before making a purchase. Search for the retailer you want to shop at and click through to their website. When you make a purchase, the bonus miles will be automatically credited to your rewards account.

Using airline shopping portals is a simple and effective way to earn extra rewards and save money on everyday purchases. By taking advantage of these tools and being strategic about your purchases, you can maximize your rewards and make the most of your everyday spending!

But how do you find shopping portals? You can use Google and search “(Insert Airline or Hotel Chain) Shopping Portal” or you can grab my free cheat sheet and I have a list of some great ones!

Answer Surveys

Guest Opinion Rewards invitation to take a survey for earning 200 Hilton Honors Bonus Points, with survey details displayed.

Answering surveys is a simple and often overlooked way to earn extra rewards. Some companies, including travel and hospitality brands, offer rewards for completing surveys about various products and services. One great example is the Guest Opinion Rewards program, which offers Hilton Honors points for completing surveys.

To get started with the Guest Opinion Rewards program, you’ll sign up for an account using your Hilton Honors loyalty number and complete your profile. You’ll then receive survey invitations via email and for each survey you complete, you’ll earn a certain number of Hilton Honors points, which can be redeemed for Hilton hotel stays.

One of the great things about survey rewards is that they can be a low-effort way to earn extra points or miles. Surveys can be completed on your own time and from the comfort of your own home.

It’s important to note that not all survey rewards programs are created equal, and some may offer more valuable rewards than others. Before signing up for a survey rewards program, do some research to make sure it’s a reputable program with rewards that are worth your time and effort.

Linking Partner Apps

Many travel brands offer partnerships with other companies, allowing you to earn rewards for using their services.

For example, Delta Airlines and Starbucks have a partnership that allows you to earn Delta SkyMiles for purchases made at Starbucks. You’ll need to link your Delta SkyMiles account to your Starbucks Rewards account and you’ll earn 1 mile per $1 spent at Starbucks and Double Stars on Delta travel days.

Another example is Lyft or Uber partners with different airlines and hotel programs. For instance, you can link your Lyft account with Delta or Hilton and you can link your Uber account with Marriott.

There are many other partnerships out there, the best way to find them is to do some Googling. Remember that linking partner apps can be a simple and effective way to earn extra travel rewards to help you save on travel!

Promotional infographic by Starbucks Rewards and Delta SkyMiles with details on earning rewards and miles for purchasing coffee and traveling

Use Travel Reward Apps

Travel rewards apps can earn you points and miles without using a travel rewards credit card. A great one is the United MileagePlus X app which allows you to earn United miles when you shop at participating retailers.

You would simply link your United MileagePlus account and a credit or debit card to the app, and then use the app to make purchases at participating retailers (it’s essentially paying with a gift card). You can earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent, and sometimes even more during special promotions.

But the United MileagePlus X app isn’t the only travel rewards app out there. Like the Bilt Rewards app, which allows you to earn points toward rent payments when using their Bilt Mastercard.

The Bilt app also lets you earn points for tasks, and games and offers promotions for a variety of loyalty programs without requiring that you have the credit card. Bilt points can be transferred to a large number of travel partners, making it an intriguing program.

But the key to using these apps effectively is by using them in conjunction with your other travel rewards strategies. For example, you could use the United MileagePlus X app to earn extra miles on purchases (that you would make anyway) and also earn more points by connecting a rewards credit card instead of a debit card.

Combining multiple strategies like this can help you earn points and miles faster, which means you can start traveling more for less!

Check out my post on points and miles apps that you need to download today to help you get organized!

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Can you earn enough points this way?

A common question is, “Can you earn enough points this way?” The answer is yes, but it will take you longer than if you were using travel rewards credit cards.

The good news is that it’s definitely possible to earn enough points for significant travel redemptions. By taking advantage of bonus promotions, maximizing everyday spending, and sticking to a few loyalty programs, you can accumulate a substantial amount of points.

The key is to avoid spreading your efforts too thin across too many loyalty programs. Instead, focus on a few programs that align with your travel goals and maximize your earnings there. This way, you’ll be able to earn a lot of points with a few programs rather than a little with a lot of programs.

You may be surprised at how few points you actually need for a good redemption. For example, a one-way domestic flight could be redeemed for as little as 6,000 miles + $5.60, and a weekday hotel stay could be redeemed for around 25,000 points per night off peak.

Flight itinerary for a trip from Fort Lauderdale to Burbank showing the total miles and taxes for a main cabin seat.
It’s possible to fly one way from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Burbank, CA
with only 6,000 American Airlines Advantage miles + $5.60.
The cash price was $191, about 3 cents per point which is pretty good.

So, while it may take some patience and strategy, it’s definitely possible to earn enough points for significant travel rewards without relying solely on travel rewards credit cards. You got this!

And if you do have travel rewards credit cards, but just don’t want to apply for more you can still use all of these strategies and stack on those rewards!

Want to Travel More for Less?

Become a Budget Traveler! Head over to my start here page and grab my free budget travel cheat sheet  – it’s packed with valuable tips to help you create your own winning budget travel strategy.

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