5 Ways to Earn Miles and Save Money on Thanksgiving

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I was in legitimate shock last night when I realized that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! I knew it was November and consequently Thanksgiving must be coming up soon, but I fully lost track of the notion that this is officially the week before Thanksgiving. Wow, time flies when you are having fun taking care of sick kids, or something like that.

So, let’s regroup and go full on Turkey Day for a bit. Equally as shocking as the reality that Thanksgiving is next week is that Americans spend over a billion dollars on turkey alone at Thanksgiving. A collective billion dollars just on the turkey is kind of staggering, but it is also an opportunity to earn a lot of points or even save a few dollars.

I’ve seen articles on how to save money on Thanksgiving dinners by swapping out traditional favorites like green bean casserole for something in season like kale and Swiss chard. Um, no. I mean, if you prefer winter squash and kale then by all means rock those side dishes, but don’t change your all-time favorites to shave off a dollar or two. Be smarter than having to compromise in order to save on a once a year meal. Here are my tips for earning miles and saving money at Thanksgiving, and I promise that none of them require compromising or changing your menu at all.

This kid isn't giving up her Thanksgiving rolls for anyone!

This kid isn’t giving up her Thanksgiving rolls for anyone!

Use a Card That Pays a Bonus at Grocery Stores

Including drinks, the average family Thanksgiving meal cost around $70 last year, though I’m betting lots of us that host spend more than that. No matter what you actually spend on the meal, it is a safe assumption that your grocery trip(s) to secure the ingredients are larger than your average grocery expenses. An easy way to save money, or earn some extra points at the grocery store is to of course be sure you are paying with a credit card that earns a bonus at grocery stores like The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card that earns 3x Membership Reward points at US grocery stores, up to $6,000 per year in purchases – and you get a 50% bonus on top of that with 30 transactions in a billing cycle upping it to as high as 4.5 points per dollar spent at the grocery store.

You could also go with a cash back option like no annual fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. No matter what time of the year, most families would be well served by having a credit card that pays out a bonus at grocery stores.

If you like to buy in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club for your Thanksgiving needs then remember that the Chase Freedom card has wholesale clubs in their 4th quarter 5x bonus, up to $1,500 in purchases. If you use one of those types of cards you should earn several hundred points for your Thanksgiving grocery purchases or between 3 – 5% cash back, depending on your card.


Shop Small at Farmer’s Markets and Earn Bonus Points

If you are able to secure a turkey from a local farm or purchase some fresh produce from a farmer’s market you might be able to earn 2x points from those small businesses via your registered American Express cards thanks to the “Shop Small” campaign that runs through the end of the year. You can check their Shop Small map for eligible retailers, but you thankfully don’t have to stick to the chain stores in order to earn extra points for your Thanksgiving needs.


I’ve been turning to my Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Amex to earn 2x valuable SPG points at small businesses ever since that promo started, and I plan to continue until the promo concludes at the end of the year.

Order Thanksgiving Decor (and outfits) Online to Earn Major Airline Miles

Obviously the key ingredients to a successful Thanksgiving dinner are the people you are with and food you eat, but if you also like to decorate your home with autumnal themed decor or splurge on some new coordinated outfits for your family, then that is another opportunity to rack up the miles and points.

This really is the absolute best time of the year to rack up airline miles for online shopping at retailers ranging from Macy’s to Pottery Barn to Gap and well beyond as there are bonuses of 3,000 – 5,000 miles available from United, Alaska, Southwest, and American via their online shopping sites as well as retailer specific bonuses of 15x miles per dollar and more.

Homemade Thanksgiving attire

Homemade Thanksgiving attire

Earn Points on the Restaurant Items You Sneak on the Thanksgiving Table

If you are like me and don’t cook absolutely everything from scratch (I’m looking at you Honey Baked Ham), remember to pay for those ‘supplemental’ items you sneak onto the table with a credit card like the Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x points on dining charges at restaurants.

Save Money By Strategically Using Gift Cards and Amex Offers

Before heading out to make your Thanksgiving related purchases it is worth a glance at the Amex Offers available via your online American Express account. For example, you may be able to get a $20 statement credit for a $100 Staples.com purchase – where they sell gift cards to places like Whole Foods, in case you are in the market for an organic free range turkey who had his feathers brushed daily. I’ve also seen recent Amex Offer statement credits available for retailers like Sur La Table, which might be good if you need to bulk up on your fancy kitchen supplies.


Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season in general are fantastic opportunities to both save money strategically as well as maximize the dollars you are spending anyway to turn them into hundreds or even thousands of airline miles.

If you have any other money saving or mileage maximizing tips for upcoming Thanksgiving and other holiday purchases I’d love to hear them!

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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