Rack Up Miles and Bonuses Eating Out at Restaurants

Dining for miles is one of the easy and free ways you can rack up points. Register, use your credit card when you dine out, and if it happens to be at a participating restaurant you’ll earn miles automatically.

Rewards Network is the company that provides branded mileage-earning dining programs in conjunction with major frequent flyer programs like United MileagePlus, American AAdvantage, and Delta Skymiles.

I’ll always call them iDine, it former name, and the predecessor to that was Transmedia — the old program where you paid to sign up and had a membership card which you needed to present at restaurants for a cash discount.

When I first started earning with them in the mid-1990s, United’s program was only open to their elite frequent flyers.

I used to rack up miles by choosing to schedule reimbursable business meals at participating restaurants, and steering groups of friends towards those restaurants — where everyone would kick in cash and I’d earn miles for the total bill that I’d put on my credit card.

Sadly the program became a whole lot less valuable July 1, 2005. But it’s still better than a hole in the head, as my grandfather used to say.

Remember that you can join several different programs, create different logins and attach a different credit card to each. Here are some of the current joining bonuses:

  • Delta join by May 31, then within your first 30 days earn 500 miles with your first visit spending $30 or more; 1000 miles for your second; 1500 for your third. Note that you have to complete an online review within 30 days of each visit and also that Delta elites earn 1000 miles on their first qualifying visit instead of just 500.

  • United 2000 miles in your first 30 days — 1,000 spending $25 or more on your first participating restaurant visit and 1000 when you’ve spent $100 at participating restaurants.

  • American 1000 bonus miles for a qualifying dine of $25 or more in your first 30 days.

  • Alaska

  • Southwest 1800 bonus points in 3 steps:

And of course you earn points for your spend at participating restaurants, which post automatically when you make charges to the card(s) you have registered to your account.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Been using the programs for years, but you have to pay attention to participating restaurants. Some of my favorites have recently changed.

  2. Haven’t seen one I want to eat at in a while. Isn’t it a sign that the restaurant is struggling?

  3. Are these churnable?That is can you disenroll from a particular Airlines Mileage program wait a period of time we enroll and be eligible for a bonus again?

  4. Like you Gary, I was a huge fan of this program back before 2005, doing exactly what you did and racking up the miles as a result.

    Be aware that certain cards are locked to certain programs. Unsurprisingly, cards like the Delta Amex cards are locked to Delta, etc. Just something to be aware of when trying to sign up.

  5. It seems Delta and United are using the same restaurant rewards network. Can you enroll the same card in both programs and get miles in each airline for the same spend? Now that would be a great incentive!

  6. Did this to extend my United miles 18 more months.

    For me these places are not usually restaurants that we eat at. We thus gave our mom’s for Christmas (83 and 72) a Monthly Night Out. We take each of them once a month to these places that we do not ordinarily go. We get points for using our credit card and we get points for what we spend at the restaurant.

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