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Have bonus miles for dessert with miles-for-dining programs

SmarterTravel

A perfect meal should combine unique flavors and stimulating conversation, and afterwards, bonus frequent flyer miles. If you’d like to see more miles on your plate, sign up with iDine, which enables you to earn miles for your meals at select restaurants. If you eat out often or like to treat all of your friends to dinner, you can quickly increase your mileage balance and speed up your quest for a free ticket.

Eight airlines have miles-for-dining programs through iDine. These programs are:

How it works

Even if you don’t consider yourself a mileage maven—and certainly if you do—you should think about signing up for an iDine program with your airline of choice. It’s free, it requires very little effort on your part, and you can earn 10 miles per dollar for an activity you’re going to do anyway.

(If you prefer, you can instead sign up for iDine Prime, which is not affiliated with airline frequent flyer programs, and earn 15 to 20 percent back in cash savings. There is an annual membership fee, which is sometimes waived if you enroll through an affiliated program, for example, with a newspaper subscription.)

To earn miles, you must register your American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa credit card or debit card online with your chosen iDine program, and then use that credit card to pay at any iDine-affiliated restaurant. You can register up to three credit cards in case a particular restaurant doesn’t accept your primary card. You’ll earn 10 miles per dollar spent on food, beverages, tax, and tips. There’s no annual fee, and no membership card you need to remember to present; miles should automatically post to your designated frequent flyer account.

iDine tip:

Some restaurants only allow you to earn miles on the first visit of each month. However, several will let you earn miles on unlimited visits if you first create an online profile with iDine.

The iDine program is affiliated with over 7,000 restaurants in the U.S. Most restaurants allow you to earn miles on up to $600 in charges, which equals 6,000 miles, each month. A few restaurants limit the number of visits per month, or only allow mileage-earning on specific days of the week. You can find specific restrictions for individual restaurants on iDine’s website.

Rewards are not available in conjunction with coupons, discount cards, restaurant promotions, or planned events that have negotiated prices. There is also no limit to the number of different restaurants at which you can earn miles each month, so eat out as often as you like.

Extra bonuses

In addition to the normal miles you’ll earn for eating out, the various miles-for-dining programs often offer bonus miles for signing up or eating out frequently in a limited time period. Often, these special deals are only announced through loyalty program e-mails, and can’t be found on iDine’s or the airlines’ websites. Check the SmarterTravel.com Mile Finder for the most recent bonus offers.

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