If you're one of the many cost-conscious consumers who plan to cut back on travel in the coming months, there's a way to keep your frequent flyer account growing without spending a dime on airline tickets or hotel stays: holiday shopping.
All of the largest airline and hotel loyalty programs feature what I call mileage malls, networks of online retailers that award miles or points for purchases. And, in the run-up to Christmas, most of those mileage malls are offering extra miles. Here are some examples:
- Through December 31, members of American's AAdvantage program will earn double miles for purchases at 21 participating AAdvantage eShopping mall merchants, including Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble.com, Bose, Cabela's, Circuit City, Dell Home, drugstore.com, eToys, Gap.com, landsend.com, Macys.com, Overstock.com, Pottery Barn, RedEnvelope, Saks.com, Sears, Staples.com, Home Depot, TigerDirect, Victoria's Secret, and Williams-Sonoma. In addition to the bonus miles, AAdvantage members who spend at least $500 at the 21 participating merchants, and charge their purchases to a MasterCard, will receive a $25 MasterCard gift card.
- Members of Continental's OnePass program who charge a purchase at the ShopOnePass mall by December 31 will earn a one-time bonus of 500 miles when paying with a Continental Airlines Chase credit card.
- At the Delta SkyMiles Shopping mall, rather than a single bonus scheme, there are various holiday shopping bonuses on offer, including quadruple miles (Barnes & Noble, Harry & David, etc.), triple miles (Lands' End, Dell, etc.), and double miles (HomeDepot.com, Target.com, etc.). Most are in effect through December 31.
- Members of the Midwest Miles program will earn double miles at all Midwest Miles Mall retailers through the end of the year.
- And through December 22, members of United's Mileage Plus program who shop at one of the twenty participating Mileage Plus Mall stores will receive bonus miles based on their total spend as follows: 1,000 bonus miles for spending $500-$749; 1,500 for spending $750-$999; and 2,000 for spending $1,000 or more. Bonuses apply to purchases at Art Select, Barnes & Noble, Bloomingdales, Clinique, Dell Home, GiftBaskets.com, Harry & David, Hickory Farms, Ice.com, Kiehl's, Kodak, Landsend.com, macys.com, Magazines.com, NORDSTROM.com, Origins, Red Envelope, Sears, Sephora, and William Sonoma.
- Choice Privileges members will earn double points for purchases at 23 participating Choice Privileges Mall retailers through December 31. Among the participating merchants: Overstock.com, Nordstrom, Land's End, Circuit City and the Apple Store.
- Members of InterContinental's Priority Club Rewards program can earn double points for purchases at 22 Priority Club Shopping mall retailers. Participating online merchants: the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, CompUSA, Current Catalog, Dell Home, Dell Small Business, Hickory Farms, HP Home Store, JCPenney, Kmart, Lands' End, Macy's, Nordstrom, OmahaSteaks.com, Overstock, REI, RitzCamera.com, Ross-Simons, Sears, Home Depot, TigerDirect, Victoria's Secret, VistaPrint, and Walmart.com.
- Through December 31, Marriott Rewards members will earn double points when shopping at 22 participating Marriott Rewards Mall merchants, including the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, Current Catalog, Dell Home, Dell Small Business, Hickory Farms, HP Home Store, JCPenney, Kmart, Lands' End, Macy's, Nordstrom, OmahaSteaks.com, Overstock, REI, Ross-Simons, Sears, Home Depot, Victoria's Secret, VistaPrint, and Walmart.com.
As always, when buying from a mileage mall merchant, begin shopping by logging in on the website of the airline or hotel program. There, you will enter your membership number so that miles can be tracked and credited to your account.