There have been several great deals over the past few weeks whereby you can earn bonus miles for shopping through an online portal. I’ve received several questions about how exactly online shopping portals work, so figured I’d do a brief rundown of how they work, and the best ways to pick up additional miles for your purchases.
My approach to online shopping portals is fairly simple: if I can purchase something online and get bonus miles, rather than having to go to a store (and not get any bonus miles), I’m pretty much good. There are often opportunities to stack gift cards or double-dip, as well as several portals that offer cash-back, but for now let’s just go over the basics of earning miles and points on your online shopping.
Which programs offer bonus points or extra miles for online shopping?
In general, most major airlines and credit card programs have an online shopping portal, allowing you to earn bonus miles or points for your purchases. The notable exception is American Express Membership Rewards, which sadly discontinued their shopping mall last year.
I find the most lucrative portal to generally be the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall. Anyone with a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold has access to this shopping portal, and they typically have the best bonuses at the retailers I find myself frequenting.
I’ve listed the major airline portals below. I generally wouldn’t recommend using a hotel shopping portal, as the best hotel portals tend to be Marriott and IHG Rewards, and in both cases it makes more sense to accrue Ultimate Rewards points. The same is also generally true for United and Southwest, so keep in mind that they are Ultimate Rewards transfer partners as well.
|Airline||Online Shopping Portal|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Aeroplan eStore|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||Mileage Plan Shopping|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||AAdvantage eShopping|
|British Airways Executive Club||BA eStore|
|Delta SkyMiles||SkyMiles Shopping|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||Rapid Rewards Shopping|
|United MileagePlus||Mileage Plus Shopping|
|US Airways Dividend Miles||Dividend Miles Storefront|
How do I decide which online shopping portal to use?
This somewhat depends on what your travel goals are, and what miles you’re trying to accrue, as well as what you’re purchasing.
One of the main ways I encourage people to keep miles from expiring is by making a purchase from an online portal. You can often purchase something from iTunes or similar, which is a great way to reset the expiration clock with an airline program.
Otherwise, if you have a specific product in mind, it helps to do some research. For example, I’m actually shopping for a new suitcase at present, as my carry-on is once again ready for replacement. I know that eBags, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and a few other places sell my bag, and they all seem to be about the same price.
Cashback Monitor and EV Reward are great websites for finding out which portals have the best bonuses. Cashback Monitor seems to be the most accurate, though EV Reward displays everything on one page, which is nice. A quick search shows which online shopping portals are offering bonus points for each store:
The best option for eBags seems to be through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, and 8 points per $ for something I was already going to purchase seems like a pretty good deal!
Neiman Marcus, however, is offering 18 American Airlines AAdvantage miles per dollar, which is awesome! The downside is that Neiman Marcus charges sales tax, so that adds to cost somewhat. I value both Ultimate Rewards points and American AAdvantage miles highly, so this is still the better deal.
How do I earn bonus miles?
The process for earning bonus points is fairly straightforward in most cases:
- Go to the shopping portal for the program you want to earn miles in
- Sign in to your account
- Find the retailer you want to purchase from, and click on their link
- Complete your purchase as normal
- In most cases the portals claim points will post in 4-6 weeks, though in my experience they’re often much faster
As a best practice, I would recommend using clearing your cache and making sure your shopping cart is empty beforehand, as otherwise there can be issues with the “click-thru” not tracking correctly. It’s also smart to keep track of the points you’re expecting to earn, and following up if they don’t post.
What about shipping costs?
Many retailers waive shipping for orders over a certain threshold, while others (such as Apple, BestBuy, Nordstrom, and the ContainerStore) will allow you to order the item online, then pick it up in the store. This can be the best of both worlds, as you still get the bonus miles, but don’t have to wait for the items to be shipped.
It’s also worth noting many items are eligible for free two-day shipping through Shoprunner, which is offering eligible American Express cardholders a complimentary 1-year membership.
Overall, I find this to be a pretty easy way to pick up extra points throughout the year. Does anyone have any other online shopping portal tips to share?
(In the interest of full disclosure, some of the above links earn me a referral bonus, and all are for the best available offers for each card — thanks for your support!)