I Can See for Miles

New and interesting ways to earn — and spend — your frequent flyer points.

What’s the world’s most popular currency? The dollar? The yen? Actually, it may be frequent-flier points. Major airlines are devising more and more ways for you to earn points with them — besides flying on their planes. And there are more and more things to spend miles on — besides air travel. Here is Fast Company’s roundup of new, interesting, and downright charitable ways to earn and spend your miles.

Airline Program Ways to Earn Miles of Smiles First Class
United Airlines Mileage Plus Want to sail the friendly seas? United won’t hold it against you. For every fully paid cruise that you take in an ocean-view cabin on Norwegian Cruise Line, United will grant you between 1,000 and 5,000 miles. Mileage Plus holders can donate air-travel miles to several charities (including the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity) — as long as the donation totals more than 10,000 miles. For United travelers, expired miles are now a thing of the past. As long as you either earn or redeem miles at least once every three years, you can hang on to all of your miles.
American Airlines AAdvantage Earn 5,000 miles — and perfect your short game — when you enroll in a three-day program at the Nicklaus-Flick Golf School, operated by Jack Nicklaus’s Golden Bear Golf Inc. You can donate miles to Miles For Kids In Need, a program that provides free air transportation to seriously ill children. Use your miles to contribute to the future: With 2,000 AAdvantage miles, you can open a Kids Own America CashSmart bank or brokerage account for your kids at any partnering institution.
Delta Airlines SkyMiles The Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express lets you garner miles for just about any purchase: One card owner bought an Irish pub for $500,000 — and received roughly 500,000 air miles. Check out Delta’s SkyWish program: Once you’ve earned 5,000 miles, you can donate extra miles to organizations such as the United Way of America and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Why not give the gift of air miles? The SkyRewards program lets you purchase air mileage in units of 500, 1,000, and 5,000 miles. (The minimum order is 60,000 miles.)
Continental Airlines OnePass You can earn up to 125,000 OnePass miles simply by using Prudential Referral Services when you buy or sell a home. You can donate your miles to one of Delta’s preferred charities: Careforce, for example, provides airline tickets for people who are having a medical or personal crisis and can’t afford to fly. One of the many perks of OnePass is a mileage-purchase plan. If you’re close to earning a free trip, use this option to buy extra miles. (An increment of 1,000 miles costs $25 plus tax.)