Is This Any Way To Fly Free

The Lure of Milesource

Note: Milesource is out of business.

Nothing gets my pulse running like the thought of yet another free flight. I’ve become pretty savvy over the years about using air courier travel and building a treasure trove of frequent flyer miles. So when I happened on, my interest was piqued. is in the business of luring people to various shopping sites by “paying” them frequent flyer miles (called AwardMiles) for spending their money there. You get one AwardMile for each dollar spent, just as you do with airline credit cards. In some cases, you can earn AwardMiles just for visiting a site. The catch is AwardMiles are one step removed from being true frequent flyer miles. Instead of transferring your AwardMiles to your favorite frequent flyer program to increase mileage you’ve already earned, you must redeem your miles through Milesource for a certificate good for a roundtrip on American, Delta, Continental or Northwest. It takes 25,000 AwardMiles for a domestic trip. Overseas trips require from 40,000 to 80,000 miles depending on the destination and the airline. That’s about in the ballpark for awards from the major frequent flyer programs.

Here’s how Milesource works: you choose a user name and password and then enter preferred shopping sites via the Milesource site. Then, when you make a purchase, you give the merchant a special email address in the form “”. Only then will you get credit. The choice of online merchants is attractive and growing. Current participants include Amazon, Brooks Brothers, CDNow, OfficeMax, and other big names, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding something to buy if you’re a regular online shopper.

You get an immediate 1,000 miles when you sign up, an additional 500 if you fill out a survey. There are two ways to earn miles without shopping. You can visit the Click Arcade where you can click on links to 29 sites (not the same ones as in the shopping section). You receive one point each time one of these sites loads in your browser. You can earn points for visiting each site once a day, so web surfers with time on their hands (not to mention dedication) could earn 10,585 miles a year by visiting all 29 sites daily. Presumably the list of sites available will change over time and the number of Click Arcade sites may rise or fall. The other way to earn AwardMiles is to click on links in emails that Milesource will send you touting various sites. This time, the reward is five miles per click.

A little simple arithmetic will tell you that, unless you’re a very avid shopper, it will take a fair bit of time to qualify for your first free trip. However, there’s an added element to the Milesource program that can speed things up.

You can also earn AwardMiles by referring others to the program and enjoying a sort of multi-level marketing payoff in AwardMiles. You get 10% of the mileage earned by anyone you refer, plus 5% of the mileage earned by the next three levels of referrals. The Milesource web site offers a calculator that lets you estimate how much you’ll earn. My guess is the results are somewhat over-optimistic but, still there is enough potential to make the proposition interesting, especially if you have the means (a web site or email newsletter, for example) to spread the word and get lots of people clicking and buying for miles. Like all affiliate programs, your success in this one will depend on promotion.

I was intrigued enough to sign up to see what’s possible with their system. If you’d like to join the experiment, follow this link and join Milesource

[Milesource has bit the dust]