Frequent flyer miles, also known as travel points or airline miles, are a part of airline and credit card loyalty programs. Typically, you accumulate a set amount of miles based on your spending that can be used to buy airline tickets. But with travel limited due to the coronavirus, there are a few other ways to cash in frequent flyer miles this holiday weekend without leaving home. 

Plan a staycation.

This year, many families are swapping vacations abroad for something more local. Change up the scenery by trading miles for hotel points and book a room at one of your favorite hotels in town. For those looking to road trip, check out Conde Nast’s 14 Best Roadtrips and use your miles for lodging along the way.  Log into your airline credit card account to see what redemption options are available with hotel partners.

Upgrade your outdoor space to an outdoor oasis.

With so much time spent at home, now is the perfect time to upgrade the patio or create that outdoor living room you’ve always wanted. Eligible airline merchandise programs are a great way to use miles to score that grill you’ve been eyeing. 

Alternatively, you can exchange points and miles on and redeem them for retail gift cards to stores such as Target, The Home Depot, Wayfair, and Macy’s.

For co-branded credit cards and elite frequent flier members such as Delta SkyMiles Amex card and Delta Medallion Members, redeeming miles for merchandise is fairly straightforward. Log in to your frequent flyer or airline credit card online to browse products and brands for easy redemption. Not the outdoorsy type? United MileagePlus Members can use their miles to purchase Apple iPhones, Airpods and Macbooks instead.

Cash miles for gift cards and cater your next family cookout.

For many, summer cookouts conjure images of juicy burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad and…lots of dirty dishes. Avoid dishwasher duty and order in using a eGift card purchased with points. For example, United MileagePlus members can choose from over 270 merchants or go with a restaurant delivery service such as Grubhub. Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cardmembers can support local restaurants while earning more points through their own delivery dining program.

Donate to charity.

With record-breaking unemployment, massive budget cuts and Covid-19 cases rising once more, the role of Philanthropist has never been more needed. Use your miles to donate to various charities around the world. American Red Cross, St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, and Habitat for Humanity are just a few of the dozen organizations on Delta’s SkyWish program. JetBlue’s TrueBlue members can also donate their miles to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Make-A-Wish, and Americares.

Do some summer reading.

If you’re only accumulated a few miles but are still looking to use them, a subscription to your favorite magazine or newspaper is one of the cheapest redemption options available. Redemption programs typically have a wide selection of magazines and newspapers to choose from, with topics ranging from  personal finance, entertainment, travel, and more.

 Got a recent grad in the family? Gift them miles.

Graduation trips, once a customary experience for many recent grads, were canceled this year. But as travel resumes, young graduates will once more have the opportunity to gain the life-changing experiences and cultural perspectives that only exploration and adventure can offer.

According to, “Most airlines allow you to transfer miles to a friend or family member, but each program has its own terms and conditions, so make sure to review their websites for details. Keep in mind, airlines may require that the gift recipient be enrolled in the airline loyalty program for the miles to be applied to their account, so you may need to ask your gift recipient to sign up.”