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You know full well that the easiest way to rack up miles and points quickly is by opening the best travel credit cards and earning their amazing welcome bonuses. But far and away the second easiest way is by strategically spending on your cards via shopping portals to receive preposterously high return rates.
It’s easy to earn bonuses like cash back or miles & points for online purchases by using shopping portals. What isn’t always straightforward is knowing whether or not you’re using the best shopping portal for your purchase. There is an easy solution to this problem, though! Cashback Monitor is a site that allows you to search just about every shopping portal out there, at the same time, and easily compare earning rates. But it’s much more than just a simple search engine — it has a few extra features that can help ensure you’re always getting the most rewards per dollar spent.
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How to pick the best shopping portal with Cashback Monitor
Cashback Monitor is my favorite shopping portal comparison tool. But when you’re looking for the best shopping portal rates it’s important to remember that even Cashback Monitor won’t display every single shopping portal (although it does cover most of them). For example, RetailMeNot won’t show up in Cashback Monitor searches.
When you’re comparing the best earnings rates it’s important to remember that not every shopping portal is the same. If you’re shopping through a bank portal you’ll generally need to use a rewards credit card issued by that bank to make the purchase. But that’s not the case with hotel, airline, or just general cash back portals.
Also, be sure to read reviews of each portal or make small test purchases before you put all your cash back eggs in one basket. Each portal will have different payout procedures and some are much better at tracking purchases than others.
If you want to learn about the different types of shopping portals and how they work, check out our guide to online shopping portals.
1. Search for the best current rate
The easiest way to make use of Cashback Monitor is to simply use it for what it’s designed for – to compare current shopping portal rates. It works just like any search engine. Just go enter the store or brand you want to make a purchase with.
Here are the search results I got for IHG Hotels.
The search results are divided by different types of shopping portals (cashback, travel miles/points, credit card points, and other rewards points). Just because a shopping portal is displayed in the search results doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have access to that portal. For example, for bank portals (Chase, Barclays, etc.) you’ll need a specific credit card from that bank to be able to use that portal.
Cashback Monitor also allows you to set a specific value to the miles and points you’re looking to earn. This makes it really easy to compare portal earning rates based on how you personally value certain miles or points.
To assign values to points you’ll need to create a Cashback Monitor account and log in on the top right of the screen. Then click the “Assign Value to Miles” tab.
Then just type in a value you want for each type of miles or points. After that, click “Save” at the bottom of the screen. The next time you search Cashback Monitor will adjust your results based on the values you assigned.
It’s easy and straightforward. Before I make any purchase online I always check Cashback Monitor first.
2. Easily view the best historical rates
If you’ve got a big purchase coming up you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the best return for your spending. You can do that two different ways.
The first is by checking the best reward rates for a specific store. You can easily do this from the Cashback Monitor search page. Just search for the site you’re making a purchase with and when the search results populate, click the “View Best Rate History” link.
Cashback Monitor will show you the best reward rates of the past few years for each category. At a quick glance, you can see that Marriott occasionally hits 12% cash back or 10 miles per dollar.
Knowing what the best earning rates have been can give you a good idea of whether or not it makes sense to wait to make your purchase.
3. Get alerted when a rate increases
Once you know what the best recent rates have been you can set alerts for when the rate increases to a certain threshold.
First login into your account, then select the “Manage My Alerts” tab. After that you can add your email if you want the alerts emailed to you, otherwise they will only show up in your Cashback Monitor account under “My Messages.”
Next, enter the store you want to set an alert for – I entered IHG Hotels. Then choose which type of portals or which specific portal you want to track. Finally, set the target earning rate at which you want to receive an alert (i.e. 10% or 6 miles per dollar, etc.) and click “Create Alert.”
I set an alert for IHG hotels at 10% cash back and another one for 8 miles per dollar. So I won’t receive any messages or emails unless a shopping portal rate increases to at least those numbers.
That’s all there is to it!
If you’ve never used shopping portals before, you’re missing out on free cash back and rewards you can earn with very little extra effort. The one thing you’ll want to watch out for is that if you apply an unauthorized promo code to your purchase it can negate the rewards you earn through the portal. So be sure to weigh your options and figure out the best deal for you.
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