Apparently You Can Earn Bonus Miles For Dining — Who Knew?!

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I’ll be the first to admit I’m not as “hardcore” in this hobby as I used to be. That’s partly because I have more going on in my life now than when I was 16.

Back in the day I would go out of my way to earn bonus miles for virtually every purchase. $5 online purchase? I would spend 15 minutes trying to decide which shopping portal to go through. Over time I’ve kind of included the value of time in deciding whether or not to take advantage of various opportunities to generate miles.

As many of you probably know, most of the major airlines offer bonus miles for dining at select restaurants through Rewards Network.


Basically you register your credit card, and then for dining at select restaurants you earn 3-5 bonus miles per dollar spent (and sometimes there are promotions on top of that).


Back in the day I’d mindlessly go out of my way to dine at restaurants which participated in Rewards Network. And it truly was mindless.

For the most part there’s a reason restaurants take place in these programs, and (in many cases) it’s not because they’re booked out due to how good their food is and how great of a value they provide. After all, Rewards Network apparently takes a 10-15% share of revenue when “their” diners eat somewhere.

So after one too many bad meals, I stopped participating in the Rewards Network affiliated dining program. It was just no longer worth going out of my way to earn bonus miles on largely mediocre and overpriced meals.

It has been at least a couple of years since I’ve actually looked at Rewards Network.

On Sunday Mommy Points wrote about how the AAdvantage Rewards Network Dining program was offering bonus miles for new members. While I’m an existing member, seeing that post jogged my memory.


I’ve spent quite a bit of time visiting my parents in Florida lately, and I hadn’t looked up the nearby Rewards Network restaurants in years.

So I nearly soiled myself when I realized that my favorite coffee shop and my favorite Italian restaurant which are literally within walking distance of where my parents live are now part of the program. I go to the coffee shop daily when I’m visiting them (it’s a good place to work from), and we go to the Italian restaurant probably once or twice a week.

I don’t even want to think about how many points I’ve sacrificed by not having my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card on file earlier (I only had an old American Express linked to my Rewards Network account).

So suffice to say I updated my cards immediately and went to the Italian restaurant for dinner on Sunday night.

I paid with my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and in addition to two Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent I earned three AAdvantage bonus miles per dollar spent.


When I complete a dozen dines I’ll have “VIP status,” which gets me five miles per dollar spent, for an average total of seven miles/points per dollar spent in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.


Earn Bonus Points For Dining

So yeah, if you were like me and gave up Rewards Network for a long time, maybe take another look and see if there are any nearby participating restaurants that you love.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make a few small purchases at “my” coffee shop so I can get “VIP status again. 😉

Do you participate in Rewards Network? If so, do you pick out restaurants specifically because of their affiliation?

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  1. Lisa Vanderpump’s PUMP Restaurant is part of this network. Now we just have to wait and see if I can earn 5x miles on Bethenny’s Skinnygirl products or Kandi Burruss’ sex toy collection.

  2. I agree with you that going out of the way to eat at these places is a mistake as there is often a reason that they are participating in the program. That said there is no reason to not have your CSP linked up.

    I know there is only one place I eat regularly near my home on the list. However, probably four times a yeah I get an email telling me I earned bonus points for eating while away on business. The best was at Fogo in Boston. It was a work dinner and I paid for 9 peoples food and drink. A few days later I got an email letting me know I had earned 4000 miles.

  3. as you and dave mention, the restaurants that participate are usually pretty lousy (esp here in NY). but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enroll your card numbers anyway. it’s always a nice surprise to see that some place i randomly went to actually earned me extra miles on top of the base CC spend.

  4. Absolutely… and I drag my friends there and offer to put the meal on my card if they have cash. I am shameless. At least half a dozen acceptable restaurants within 5 miles of me, including some of the best Indian food and one of the best burgers in the ATL.

  5. Lucky, I;m using Skymiles Dining Rewards program since 2005. They used to provide me 20 miles for a $1 spent!! Well it is 5 miles per $1 spent now. I still use it a lot because those miles, as small as they are per dining, still looks better in my pocket than in someone else’s.
    They also have decent reviews on restaurants. This and Yelps together usually give me a good “picture” of restaurant.

  6. I participate. Sometimes it influences where I go, but rarely. Most of the places that participate in this program are unpopular restaurants, but there are occasional good ones. The best part is when you don’t realize you were getting miles, and then you get them, BOOM!

  7. AAdvantage added my favorite Brazilian restaurant in ATL to their dining program. As if I needed an excuse to eat there more! I walk out with extra pounds and miles. This is bad for my waistline.

  8. While I agree that some restaurants are lousy, even in LA, there are some really great restaurants there, and I randomly dine at these places for work all the time. Easy example is that giggles and hugs in century city is part of the program, and we have our kids birthday parties there ALL the time. That’s $1000-1500 in spend for the party I was going to have there anyway. Coral Tree at Century City mall is on there too, which is actually one of my favorite lunch spots (go to the Brentwood one all the time).

  9. I get a fairly decent chunk of my overall miles from Rewards Network. There are several decent restaurants in my area that participate in the program, and I dine out at least once a day.

  10. the United Dining used to have a promotion even for existing members who were elite (to get a dine bonus), and I got automatic VIP status as a UA elite (this may be just a temporary promotion…)
    I always pay with the sapphire card, and then get a pleasant surprise when I see miles in my account.

  11. I was already signed up with United, but just added the same Chase SP and Freedom cards to AA, thanks for the heads up

  12. Careful of those “small” purchases, i think there is a minimum spend requirement for each visit to count.

  13. @lucky –

    We have been hard-core at this for years (and years.) I typically scout ahead to destinations we might be vacationing to, or that I might be working. Heck a couple of years ago I noticed that every Burger King in PDX was on the network and we even got miles in the airport there!

    I have even been fortunate enough in the past (when I was a corporate puppet) to pay for many of our executive meetings, lunches and entertainment (even banquet meeting rooms) at restaurants that awarded me miles and then get reimbursed by my company.

    This is one of the easiest ways I use to help our friends get into the mileage accumulation game. “You’re gonna eat anyway, right?” I ask…and take it from there…

  14. @MW, you can only have each credit card associated with one Rewards Network account, so by adding your CSP and Freedom to AA, you effectively removed them from United.

  15. I can earn about 1k miles per month through rewards network without trying all that hard. There’s an app too that facilitates finding places near you. And the mobile web site is getting better also. I don’t choose a place solely to earn miles but all things equal if I’m near a place that I know will give a boost to the mileage bottom line, then why not.

  16. So your favourite coffee shop and italian restaurant now get 10-15% less of what you spend there?

  17. Theres only 3 awesome locations for me on food network. But it’s completely worth it considering how frequent I visit those places and 5 AA miles per dollar is a beautiful thing on top of Sapphire Preferred.

  18. @ Ciaran — If you’re a “glass is half empty” type of person, yes. I get 3-5x additional miles, though. 😀

  19. not sure if it’s still available or not, you might have to email them, but with iDine I have VIP status that costs (ironic, I know) $100 per year. But I get 20% cash back at any of the restaurants and there are no blackout dates or anything. Just once per quarter I get an AMEX gift card with my cash back. Which I then register that gift card with iDine and earn 20% cash back…. I’m curious if I can triple dip and get the miles as well or if one will cancel the other. Anyone else have the same benefit?

  20. but what about idine with benefits by Amex? it says you’d get 15% back… that’s almost always a better deal, no?

  21. @ Lantean — Hmmm, can’t say I’ve looked into that/seen a 15% return. 15% return is definitely better than five miles per dollar.

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