Miles-for-dining programs provide one of the most lucrative sources of frequent flyer miles of any of the non-travel mileage-earning opportunities.
All the larger airline schemes, and some hotel programs as well, offer their members opportunities to earn miles when eating at participating restaurants. Because the software and systems for awarding dining miles were developed by a third-party company, RewardsNetwork, the roster of mileage-awarding restaurants is the same for all programs. But while the restaurants are the same, individual airlines are free to offer different dining promotions. And over the past couple of years, there have been miles-for-dining promotions aplenty.
As with all the best mileage opportunities, miles for dining incurs no extra costs—the meal is priced the same whether you earn miles for it or not. So in a sense, choosing to eat at a participating restaurant without taking advantage of the miles is to leave money on the table.
The miles-per-dollar payout for dining is generous under normal circumstances. But when the programs have special offers in place, the earning rates can be positively eye-popping. Currently, all the largest U.S. airline programs have miles-for-dining promotions on offer, and two of them award enough bonus miles for a free ticket after meeting targets.
If you're not already participating, the following deals from Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, United, and US Airways should be more than enough incentive to sign up and start earning miles for dining. In particular, the 25,000-mile offers from Delta and United are sufficiently generous that non-Delta or non-United program members could easily justify signing up for either of those programs solely to participate in one of the free ticket offers.
Through July 31, members of Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan program can earn triple miles on their first three dines, up to a maximum of 5,000 bonus miles. Registration is required.
For details and to register, visit Alaska's website.
Through August 31, American AAdvantage members will earn 500 AAdvantage bonus miles for their first two qualified dines and an additional 500 AAdvantage bonus miles after the fourth qualified dine, for a total of up to 1,000 bonus miles. In addition to the bonus miles, participants will be entered automatically in a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of five weekend travel packages. Registration is required.
For details and to register, visit American's website.
Members of Delta's SkyMiles program who spend $25 or more on at least 25 qualified dines between July 1 and December 31 will be rewarded with 25,000 bonus miles—enough for a free round-trip domestic coach ticket. To participate in this promotion, SkyMiles members must register by July 25.
For details and to register, visit Delta's website.
United Mileage Plus members who spend at least $125 a month on qualified dines between July 1 and December 31 will earn a 25,000-mile bonus at the end of the promotion period. To be eligible to earn the bonus, Mileage Plus members must register by July 25.
For details and to register, visit United's website.
Through September 30, US Airways Dividend Miles members can earn 250 bonus miles for up to four qualifying dines of $15 or more each, up to a maximum of 1,000 bonus miles. Registration is required.
For details and to register, visit US Airways' website.