Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to rack up thousands of points without ever stepping foot on an airplane. The simplest (yes, most rewarding) options include credit card sign-up bonuses and regular spending, shopping for products online and even purchasing miles directly from the airline. With these tools under your belt, you’ll be flying for “free” in no time.

Credit card sign-up bonuses

You’ve probably seen the offers online or in the mail: You can earn tens of thousands of miles just by signing up for a credit card. In some cases, it really is that simple, but you should generally expect a minimum-spend requirement as well.

For example, Alaska Airlines will give you 25,000 bonus miles without requiring you to spend anything at all. With American, however, you’ll need to spend a few thousand dollars before the promised miles will post to your account.

Credit card spending

"Generally, you can earn one or two extra miles per dollar, but sometimes that figure will jump up to 10, 15 or even 30 miles per dollar you spend."

Once you get the sign-up bonus, you can continue to earn miles every time you swipe your card. Some cards and programs even offer special category bonuses, which let you earn even faster when you make purchases at certain establishments, such as gas stations or office supply stores.

Online shopping

Another great way to earn miles is by making purchases through your favorite airline’s shopping portal. Generally, you can earn one or two extra miles per dollar, but sometimes that figure will jump up to 10, 15 or even 30 miles per dollar you spend. If you buy flowers for $100, you could end up walking away with 3,000 miles!

Purchasing miles at a discount

Finally, another great option is to purchase miles from your preferred airline during sale periods. These opportunities come and go, giving you a chance to purchase miles at a fraction of the regular price. If you’re redeeming for international business or first-class flights, you can get, say, five or 10 cents per mile in value for miles that you purchased for two cents or less.