One of the most important things when it comes to earning points & miles and award travel in general is taking advantage of every opportunity to earn points & miles on the money you’re already spending. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take advantage of the many online shopping portals available. In general, almost all of the major airlines and credit cards programs have an online shopping portal, allowing you to earn bonus miles or points for your purchases. These are free points on everyday purchases!
What exactly are online shopping portals?
Essentially every one of the different online shopping portals is run by a third party website that offers consumers an incentive for shopping at different retailers affiliated with the portal. In exchange for directing you to a specified retailer, the portal will take a cut of any purchase you make from the retailer, and they’ll give you points or miles as a reward. You will ultimately benefit by being awarded points/miles, and the retailer gets more traffic because of people shopping through the portals. This really is a situation in which everybody wins!
Thrifty Tip #1: The points and miles you earn through the portals are in addition to the points and miles you earn on the credit card used to pay for the transaction! You do not have to use an affiliated credit card through the affiliated portal. This allows you to work towards spend requirements for signup bonuses, stack category multipliers, or even utilize gift cards! Use whatever card you want!
Which programs offer points and miles for online shopping?
As mentioned above, most of the major airlines and credit card programs have an online shopping portal. Deciding which portal to use depends mostly on your travel goals and the points & miles you are trying to stockpile. Since I’m based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, a major Delta airlines hub, I generally utilize the Delta Skymiles shopping portal as I place a higher value on Skymiles.
Another portal I frequent often is the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall. Being that I am a Chase Sapphire Reserve card holder, I have access to the portal, and they typically have a vast array of retailers and offer very lucrative bonuses.
Thrifty Tip#2: You must click the link on the portal’s site and then make a purchase from the retailer’s page that it routes you to. DO NOT navigate away and come back later; you will miss out on the bonus points/miles.
How do I access the shopping portals?
For the majority of the airline portals, all you need is a frequent flyer/loyalty account number. Once you have determined which portal you would like to shop through, all you need to do is go to the portal website and sign up for an account. However, the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal does require you to hold an Ultimate rewards earning credit card in order to shop. It really is that easy!
- American Airlines
- Delta SkyMiles
- Hawaiian Airlines
- United Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
Thrifty Tip #3: Each shopping portal will run promotions during the year. Many portals will have promotions up to 7x points during the holidays so look for those sales!
How can I determine which shopping portal to use?
As mentioned above, this certainly depends on your individual situation and what points and/or miles you are trying to accrue. However, cashbackmonitor.com is a great tool for finding which portals have the best bonuses for the retailer you are shopping at.
As you can see below, the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal offers 6 bonus points per dollar spent at Macy’s while the Skymiles shopping portal only offers 4x. CashBack Monitor is typically my first stop before making an online purchase.
Thrifty Tip #4: Unlike Delta SkyMiles, many of the points and miles programs out there expire if there has been no activity over a certain period of time. Making a purchase through an online shopping portal is a great way to reset the clock on your mileage expiration and keep your balance intact!
Thrifty Tip #5: Even when buying appliances online you can earn points through a shopping portal. Check our article on how to save money by buying appliances online!
My approach to online shopping portals is very simple. If I can buy something online through a portal and avoid a retail brick and mortar store while earning points & miles in the process, it’s a no-brainer. I will always choose the points, and you should too!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.