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Earn thousands of miles for mortgages and real estate

SmarterTravel

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 68 percent of Americans are homeowners. Most likely, a much lower percentage is earning miles from the purchase, sale, financing, or refinancing of their property.

If you’re a homeowner or thinking of becoming one, you could be earning thousands of bonus miles on nine airlines from their loyalty programs’ mortgage and real estate partners. With so many miles, you’ll be able to take that international trip you thought you couldn’t afford after making all those mortgage payments.

Real estate agents

The purchase of a home is a huge investment, so you can really rack up the frequent flyer miles when you buy or sell your home through an airline-affiliated real estate agent. The following table shows each affiliated company and the number of miles you’ll earn based on the sale or purchase price of your house. Awards for Mortgage and Real Estate and Lending Tree appear to have the best offers, but read our advice below about choosing the company that’s right for your needs. Click on the name of each partner for more details:

Company Miles earned Airline
All-Purpose Realty 1,500 miles per $10,000 Air Canada
Awards for Mortgage and Real Estate 3,000 miles per $10,000 Alaska, Delta, United
Cendant Real Estate 1,500 miles per $10,000 American
GMAC Real Estate 12,500-125,000 miles per home purchase Delta, Northwest
Lending Tree 3,000 miles per $10,000 Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, US Airways
U.S. Bank Home Mortgage 100 miles per $1,000 Northwest

Loans and mortgages

You can also earn miles for financing or refinancing your house, which gives established homeowners the chance to boost their mileage balances as well. See below for the number of miles you’ll earn, based on the amount you finance, except as noted.

Company Miles earned Airline
AeroMortgage 1 mile per $1 in interest Air Canada
Awards for Mortgage and Real Estate 1,300 miles per $10,000 Alaska, Delta, United
GMAC Mortgage 100 miles per $1,000 Delta, Northwest
Lending Tree 1,250 miles per $10,000 Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, US Airways
Nationwide Advantage Mortgage 1,000 miles per $10,000 America West
U.S. Bank Home Mortgage 100 miles per $1,000 Northwest
Wells Fargo Mortgage 1,000 miles per $10,000 American

If you’re interested in borrowing against the cost of your house, you can earn miles for home equity loans, as well.

Company Miles earned Airline
Awards for Mortgage and Real Estate 1,300 miles per $10,000 Alaska, Delta, United
GMAC Mortgage 175 miles per $1,000 Delta, Northwest
Lending Tree 1,250 miles per $10,000 Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, US Airways

Additional mileage earnings

A few companies offer even more opportunities to bring home the frequent flyer miles. Awards for Mortgage and Real Estate offers 5,000 bonus miles if you combine services, such as buying your house with their agent and setting up a mortgage with their broker. In addition, Awards for Mortgage and Real Estate and Cendant Real Estate offer bonus miles for using their moving van services; Awards for Mortgage and Real Estate offers 1,000 miles per $1,000 spent, while Cendant offers a flat bonus of up to 5,000 miles.

Strategies for choosing the right company

The purchase of a home is a huge investment, and while earning bonus miles can be a small consolation to your new debt, you shouldn’t let your desire to earn miles overwhelm your good financial sense. Always pick the company that fits all of your needs, not just your mileage-earning ones, and don’t pay more than the value of your miles just to work with an airline-affiliated broker.

Be aware that some of the partner companies are actual agents and lenders, while others are brokers, allowing you to work with any of their affiliated real estate companies and banks. For instance, Lending Tree can set you up with a real estate agent from Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Prudential, ERA, ReMax, GMAC (formerly Better Homes and Gardens), and Realty Executives, or obtain loans from a number of lenders, including Bank of America, CitiMortgage, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual Finance. Nationwide Advantage Mortgage, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage only offer their own products. Be sure to research your company before you apply for a loan or hire an agent to make sure you’re getting the kind of service you prefer.

When not to earn miles

Don’t forget that it’s sometimes better not to earn miles if you can get a better rate from a non-affiliated company. The best way to know where to draw the line is to figure out the value of the miles you’ll potentially earn. Suppose you buy a $300,000 house and finance $280,000 of that amount. If you use Lending Tree, you’ll earn 3,000 miles per $10,000 of your home price, for a total of 90,000 miles, and 1,250 miles per $10,000 of your mortgage, for a total of 35,000 miles.

Using the industry standard that a mile is worth two cents, your new miles have a value of $1,800 and $700, respectively. If you’ll spend more than this amount due to higher interest rates or fees with the affiliated partner, it would make good business sense to forgo the miles and go with the company offering the better deal.

One final point: Not all states allow the award of miles for home purchases and mortgages. Specifically, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and West Virginia do not allow the payment of miles for the sale or purchase of a home, and Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Rhode Island also have certain restrictions. Be sure to check in the fine print that it’s legal to receive miles in your state before you sign on with a mortgage or real estate company on the basis of its mile-earning potential.

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