The average American eats in restaurants four or more times each week. Odds are, the average American is also leaving some airline miles on the table along with their tip.
Enter airline dining programs. They work like this: Sign up for a dining program and scope out the participating restaurants. Link your travel rewards credit card, visit one, enjoy your meal, and pay with the card you registered. Then collect the bonus miles.
These bonuses can’t compete with big credit card welcome offer bonuses you receive for opening a new card, but it’s a great way to keep earning miles on the spending you’re going to do anyhow. Many airlines also offer larger bonuses to first-time users for hitting one or a few restaurants in the first month after signing up. Plus, you can double dip by earning these miles plus the points you’d normally earn for putting the bill on your credit card.
So why not take advantage? We’ll run you through the various U.S. airlines that give you a way to earn more miles while you eat.
Want to earn even more miles or points when you’re dining out? Register and pay with a credit card that earns more points on all dining like the American Express® Gold Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card!
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Dining
Alaska Airlines’ MileagePlan miles are some of the most valuable miles out there. And their dining program is a way to keep earning those miles.
Like the other dining programs, you can earn 3x Alaska MileagePlan miles for each dollar you spend at a participating restaurant. Just search to see what restaurants are available in your area. And there’s also a bonus for new users.
You can quickly earn 1,000 extra MileagePlan miles after spending $30 at a participating restaurant. Just be sure to pay with your registered card and leave a review through the dining portal within 30 days of your meal.
All the other major U.S. airlines have dining programs too, and I bet I know what you’re thinking: “Why can’t I link the same card with every airline’s dining program and earn miles with each of them for every meal?” If only, right?
From Alaska to United, all these programs are run by the same service provider … which restricts you to registering with one program per card. As soon as you link your card with a second airline’s dining program, it will get booted off the first.
American Airlines AAdvantage Dining
American Airlines’ AAdvantage Dining program operates much the same as Alaska’s. Sign up, link your AAdvantage account number, register with a credit or debit card, and start eating.
You can earn 3x AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend at participating restaurants when you use the card you registered with. Again, no need to register with an American Airlines co-branded credit card to get the bonus miles.
American also offers a bonus to first-time dining program members.
After spending $25 or more at one participating restaurant, you’ll earn 1,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. And that’s in addition to the 3x miles you’ll earn to begin with.
Delta SkyMiles Dining
Delta’s SkyMiles Dining program is simple as can be. Sign up with your SkyMiles account number and register with a specific credit or debit card. Explore the participating restaurants in your area and head that way.
When it comes time to pay, just use the card you registered with, and voila: You’ll earn 3x SkyMiles for every dollar you spend. As with all dining programs on the list, you don’t need to hold the airline’s co-branded credit to get the bonus. Just be sure to pay with whatever card you registered.
And these 3x miles will be on top of any points or miles you earn from the card you pay with.
But it gets better. Delta offers 1,000 bonus SkyMiles to new members in the dining program if you spend at least $30 (taxes and tips count!) at three restaurants within the 30 days of registration. In order to earn those bonuses, you’ll also need to leave a review of each restaurant through the SkyMilesDining.com review portal.
JetBlue TrueBlue Dining
Of course, JetBlue also has its own TrueBlue dining program. Sign up, link your frequent flyer account, register with a card, opt-in for emails and you’ll earn 3x miles for every dollar you spend at a restaurant.
As of publication, JetBlue doesn’t offer any sort of new member milage bonus.
Southwest Airlines Rapids Rewards Dining
Southwest’s dining program works like all the rest. Sign up, link your frequent flyer account, register with a card, opt-in for emails and you’ll earn 3x miles for every dollar you spend at a restaurant.
And similar to other airlines, you can earn up to 1,000 bonus miles by spending at least $25 at three participating restaurants within 30 months. You get 500 miles for the first restaurant and another 250 for the second and third.
Additionally, miles earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards dining program count towards earning a Companion Pass.
United Airlines MileagePlus Dining
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but United’s dining program works just like the others. Get signed up, link your frequent flyer account, register with any credit or debit card you’d like and you’re set.
And again, you’ll earn 3x United miles for every dollar of your dinner bill at a participating restaurant.
New users can currently earn 1,500 bonus United MileagePlus miles after dining at their first restaurant.
Unless you’re a total glutton (no judgment), you’re probably not going to get enough miles from dining out to take your next vacation. But there’s no reason not to take advantage of these dining programs and get to that next vacation faster.
The restaurants you’ll find should be pretty similar across all the airline dining programs. And since you can’t earn multiple miles from one transaction, we recommend sticking to the program whose miles you value the most.