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Do you know this effortless way to exponentially increase the miles & points you earn?
Online shopping portals are an easy way to earn lots of bonus miles, points, or cash back on purchases you’d probably make anyway. Nearly every airline, hotel, and bank has some kind of shopping portal to help you earn Big Travel extra quickly!
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about online shopping portals. And show you how easy they are to use!
Different Types of Shopping Portals
No matter what rewards currency you want to earn, you’ll find a beneficial shopping portal that suits your needs.
Almost every major airline has a shopping portal, so you can likely earn bonus miles with your favorite airline! Here are examples of airlines with shopping portals:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- United Airlines (and United Airlines MileagePlus X app)
Depending on current promotions and where you shop, you could earn 30+ points per $1!
Hotel shopping portals aren’t as prolific as airlines, but there are still a handful to choose from, like:
3. Cash Back
If you’d rather earn hard cash, there are tons of portals for you. Depending on where you’re shopping, you could earn 20%+ back!
Some of the top cashback sites are:
You can even sometimes earn cash back for travel purchases, like airfare, hotel stays, and online travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline, etc.) through these sites!
Several banks have their own shopping portals, as well. So you can earn cash back and flexible rewards from your online shopping, too! You can earn bonus points through:
What Are the BEST Type of Rewards to Earn?
There is no “best” rewards program. The rewards you choose to earn will differ based on your travel goals. For example:
- If you want to fly from the West Coast to Hawaii, you might want to use the Chase portal to collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- If you’re more interested in domestic flights, you’ll probably do better collecting points through either the JetBlue portal or the Southwest portal
- If you rarely fly, but you visit family for the holidays in small towns, you might collect Choice hotel points through the Choice shopping portal to earn free hotel nights
That said, earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points is likely the best idea if you don’t have any travel plans in mind. That’s because it’s easy to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to lots of travel partners, or use the points at a fixed cash value to reserve travel.
Use Shopping Portal Aggregators to Find the Best Deal
Shopping portal bonuses change constantly, and checking each individual portal takes forever. So it’s important to know the best shopping portal aggregators! They keep tabs on all shopping portals, and let you know which one will give you the highest return for your purchase.
Examples of shopping portal aggregators are:
My current favorite is Cashback Monitor. I find it’s usually the most up-to-date, and there are lots of handy features!
Keep in mind, miles & points can have VERY different values. One thing I love about Cashback Monitor is that you can designate different cash values to miles & points. Then instead of displaying the amount of points you’ll earn, it will tell you what percentage you’re getting as a return.
So if you value Alaska Airlines miles at ~1.8 cents each, and British Airways Avios points at just 1 cent each, you can type that into Cashback Monitor.
Then when you click on a merchant, you’ll see which is the better deal according to YOU.
Get Even Bigger Returns on Your Purchases
Here are a few tips to help you get the most for your money.
1. Stack Promotions for Even More Rewards
If you know what you’re doing, you can get an even better return than what the shopping portal aggregators tell you. That’s because you can sometimes “stack” bonuses, to earn more than one for the same purchase.
For example, you can get a $10 statement credit at Lowe’s when you spend $50+ with a current AMEX Offer at the time of writing. You can add that offer to your AMEX credit card, and use that card to make a purchase on the Lowe’s website through an online shopping portal, and earn even more cash back! And Lowe’s sells lots of things other than home improvement stuff. 😉
2. Monitor Bonus Promotions
Shopping portal promotions are being released all the time. For example, American Airlines just released a tiered bonus that disappears soon.
Log-in to your accounts once in a while, and watch for email promotions. Sometimes they are NOT listed on sites like Evreward and Cashback Monitor. Though with Cashback Monitor, you can set alerts for when certain stores increase their cashback offer.
A great way to stay on top of all this is by subscribing to the Million Mile Secrets newsletter, or by following us on Facebook and Twitter! We monitor these kinds of things, and we tell you about the ones we think are worthwhile. It makes things a lot easier for our readers!
Watch Out for Pitfalls
If you’re not careful, there are a few mistakes you can make to lose your bonus points.
1. Ad Blockers
Ad blockers prevent shopping portals from properly tracking your purchases. So if you have an ad blocker enabled on your browser, you will likely NOT get bonus miles & points for making purchases through a shopping portal.
Turn off your ad blocker beforehand!
2. Non-Qualifying Purchases
Some items do NOT qualify for bonus rewards through shopping portals. They will be listed in the fine print, but you can generally count on cash equivalents (like gift cards) to NOT be eligible for bonus earnings through the portal.
3. Combining Promotions
Many shopping portals will state that you can NOT use store promotion codes alongside their cash back offer. So always read the fine print, or you might be unpleasantly surprised later!
That said, in my experience you’ll sometimes still get a shopping portal bonus when you use a store promotion code. But don’t count on it.
How to Use a Shopping Portal
Here’s a quick guide to help you see exactly how a shopping portal works!
1. Choose a Merchant Through Cashback Monitor
When you get to the Cashback Monitor home page, you’ll see a long list of popular stores. You can see at a glance what kind of return each is offering. Or you can use the search bar near the top to find a certain merchant.
I’ll choose Walmart for this example.
Note: If you see notifications on the top and side of the page about ad blockers, that means your ad blocker is still on. Turn it off before you continue, to ensure that your purchases will track later on.
2. Choose the Rewards Currency You Want to Earn
You will now be able to see all the available portals you can use with Walmart.
Click on the miles, points, or cash back you prefer to earn. I generally value miles & points higher than cash back, because of the value I can squeeze from them! I’ll choose to shop at Walmart through the British Airways Mall.
3. Navigate to the Merchant Website via the Miles & Points Shopping Portal
You will be immediately directed to the store page on the shopping portal you selected. Just click “Shop Now” (or whatever variant is on your preferred shopping portal).
Then you’ll be prompted to enter your British Airways account details.
The shopping portal will indicate that it’s taking you to the store website.
4. Shop as You Normally Would!
You are now on the actual store website! Shop just like normal, and you’ll receive bonus miles, points, or cash back for your purchase.
I’ll now earn 4 British Airways Avios points per $1 I spend at Walmart. Plus, because the Chase Freedom currently earns 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on the first $1,500 in spending at Walmart and department stores this quarter, I can stack those deals, and earn both bonuses!
5. Check to See If Your Points Have Posted
Depending on the portal, it can take several days to several weeks for your miles and points to show up in your account. Check the terms and conditions on the portal you’re using to get an idea of what to expect.
If you don’t receive your bonus within the specified timeframe, you can contact the portal with your issue. There’s usually a “Contact Us” or “Help” section you can click through.
In the case of cash back portals, each portal pays out a little differently. For example, Top Cash Back requires users to manually request a payout (via bank transfer, PayPal, or gift card). But sites like Ebates automatically mail you a check every 3 months.
If you shop online and are NOT using online shopping portals regularly, you are leaving LOTS of miles & points (or cash) on the table!
Shopping portals are easy to use. You can earn airline miles, hotel points, or cash back to accomplish whatever goals lie ahead. But sometimes all the flash deals, increased earnings, and limited-time promotions are a lot to juggle.