When people think of frequent flyer miles, they sometimes tend to think about the business person or salesman who flies all over the world to earn miles. For example, if you have seen the movie 'Up in the Air', you may remember that George Clooney's character had a goal of earning a certain amount of frequent flyer miles. But you don't necessarily have to travel all the time (or even at all!) to earn miles. There are some programs that allow you to earn miles for free.

Before you begin your quest to earn frequent flyer miles, you need to have an account with an airline. Some examples include Continental OnePass Miles and Delta Airline Skymiles. To determine which program is best for you, consider which major airport is closest to you. For example, I live in Houston, Texas, and Intercontinental Airport Houston is the closest airport to me, and that's the airport I fly out of most of the time. It is one of Continental's hubs, so it makes sense to join Contiental's OnePass program. However, in South Houston there is another airport, Hobby. Southwest Airlines is their major hub, so someone who travels a lot from Hobby may do better to join Southwest's Rapid Rewards Program. Of course most airline frequent flyer programs are free to join, so signing up for multiple airlines would not be a bad idea either.

Now you have your frequent flyer program; what are some ways to earn free miles?

Do your shopping online – some airlines will give away points every time you shop online with certain vendors. If it is shopping you are going to do anyway, why not get the free miles too?

Utility Providers – I'll give an example: about a year ago I was unhappy with my electric company constantly raising my rates, so I went online to do some research to switch my electric provider. I found one that I liked, and it just so happened that Continental had partnered with them to give miles to new customers who were also OnePass members. So not only am I happier with a better electric provider, but I earned miles as well!

Online surveys – one website, e-rewards.com, is a survey website that is completely free to join and currently partners with several airlines such as Continental, Delta, JetBlue, and Emirates, to name a few. All you have to do is fill out surveys, and e-rewards will pay for each survey completed. This money can then be redeemed for frequent flyer miles. The site is reputable and has been around for years. Personally, I have earned approximately 5,000 miles over the years just filling out surveys, and without spending a dime.

Of course there are other ways to earn frequent flyer miles without traveling. One way is to apply for a credit card that earns miles whenever you buy something; another is to open an account at certain banks and use debit cards that earn miles. While these are nice perks, they aren't completely free. They usually have annual fees attached to them. So read the fine print and know exactly what you are paying for. Especially when it comes to credit cards…if you are the type of person who doesn't pay off credit cards each month, you may end up spending more on interest rates that the cost of airline tickets!