Triple Dip: How to Earn Tons of Extra Travel Rewards (Like United Miles) From Your Online Shopping

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INSIDER SECRET: When employing this strategy it’s best to use a credit card with a good earning rate on non-bonus spending. I’ll explain why.

One of the best ways to earn more miles and points is to maximize your earnings on your everyday spending. Other than taking advantage of large welcome bonuses from some of the best credit cards for travel, the best way I’ve found to do this is using gift cards purchased through the United MileagePlus X app combined with online shopping portals. This “triple dip” strategy allows you to earn standard credit card points plus points from both the MileagePlus X app and an online portal.

I’ll show you how to use this strategy to earn tons of extra points for purchases that you are already making.

Using the “Triple Dip” strategy will have you flying free in no time. (Image by Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock)

Triple Dipping Travel Rewards

The triple dip strategy is a simple three-step process that allows you to earn way more points for most purchases. The general process is:

  1. Use a credit card to purchase an eGift card from the United MileagePlus X app
  2. Make an online purchase through any airline’s online shopping portals such as Southwest or United
  3. At checkout on the online shopping portal, use the eGift card that you purchased through the MileagePlus X app

This strategy earns rewards from:

  • Credit card points from purchasing the eGift card
  • United points from using the MileagePlus X app
  • Miles or points through the online shopping portal that you used

I’ll walk you through the process step by step:

Step 1: Purchase EGift Cards From the United MileagePlus X App

The United MileagePlus X app is a free app that allows you to earn extra United miles for purchases. You can sign up for free; you simply need to enter your United frequent flyer number during registration so that miles can be credited to your United account.

Once you have the app downloaded and registered, you’ll need to enter in your credit card info to use for future purchases. You can use any credit card with the app, and you’ll get a 25% point bonus if you have a United card like the United℠ Explorer Card. (you don’t have to pay with the United card to get the 25% bonus).

The first step in the triple dip strategy is to determine if the store you’re looking to purchase from has gift cards in the MileagePlus X app. The app typically has over 100 stores at any time, so it’s likely you’ll find one that you normally frequent.

You can purchase eGift cards from a long list of companies with the MileagePlus X App.

As you scroll through the list, you can see the earning rate that each store is currently offering.

Once you have found a store you want, you can purchase a gift card in any amount up to the specified limit. The gift card does not have to be a round dollar amount. In fact, I regularly purchase a gift card down to the exact cent for the purchase I am planning to make.

You can purchase the gift card with any credit card, but you’ll want to use one that maximizes your points. Choose a card that earns the most points for general spending, since the MileagePlus X doesn’t count for any bonus category (there have been some reports that the gift card purchases will code for the company you bought it from, but this does not appear to be happening consistently).

For example, you could choose the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns 1.5% cash back (1.5X points per dollar on purchases).

Step 2: Navigate to Your Store’s Website Through an Online Shopping Portal

The next step is to determine if your store is listed in an online shopping portal. Online shopping portals allow you to earn extra points on your purchases when you visit a store’s website through the portal. I strongly recommend using a site like Cashback Monitor to find out which portals are offering the best deals.

Here are some popular online shopping portals:

Airlines Others

When you click on your store’s link within the shopping portal, you’ll be redirected to the store’s website. Be sure to complete your purchase through that page, because if you open a new window or tab, you may not get credit for the purchase through the portal.

Step 3: Use Your eGift Card at Checkout

The final step is to use your eGift card that you bought through the United MileagePlus X app to pay for your purchase.

One important point to note is that the terms and conditions for some online shopping portals state that purchases made with gift cards are not eligible for bonus points through the portal. However, in my experience, as well as many other folks, shopping portals do give the bonus points even when you pay with a gift card. While this is something to keep in mind, even if you do not receive the points from the portal, you will still get the points from your credit card and from the MileagePlus X app.

An Easy Example

To show just how lucrative the triple dip strategy can be, here is a great example of how you can really maximize your points.

In looking through the United MileagePlus X app, I found that Columbia Sportswear was offering 5X points per dollar on gift cards. Since I also have the United℠ Explorer Card, I earn 25% more points, for a total of 6.25X points per dollar.

You can earn 5X points or more on many merchants through the United MileagePlus X App!

Next, I found that Columbia Sportswear was listed on the British Airways portal, offering 8X points per dollar. So I clicked through to the Columbia site from the portal and started browsing. In this case, I found a rain jacket that I wanted for $130. I added the item to my cart and went to check out. With shipping, the total came out to $136.

So I went back to the United MileagePlus X all and purchased an eGift card for exactly $136, utilizing my Chase Freedom Unlimited to earn 1.5X points. I received the eGift card within one minute via email, which I then entered in at the checkout page and completed the order.

All said and done, I earned:

1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the E-gift card purchase

6.25X United miles from the United MileagePlus X app

8X British Airways Avios points from the British Airways shopping portal.

So for total spending of $136 I earned 2,142 total points: 204 Ultimate Rewards points, 850 United miles and 1,088 British Airways Avios points.

Bottom Line

The triple dip strategy allows you to earn a ton of extra travel rewards over using a credit card alone. And because the United MileagePlus X app and online shopping portals have a wide variety of participating stores, you can likely take advantage of the strategy on purchases you were already planning to make.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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1 year ago

The MPX app can also act like a shopping portal, separate from MileagePlus Shopping. The “Featured Apps” section is just that. In my experience, it doesn’t actually open the merchant’s phone app, it just loads the merchant’s site within the MPX app. It’s how I got 2X at Home Depot when the MileagePlus Shopping rate was 1X. Just another portal to check, on top of what you find on Cashback Monitor, on top of Samsung Pay, and so on…

Also, regarding MPX: My Citi Premier and my United Explorer both see restaurant gift cards as being purchases from the merchant itself. That means that, at least on those cards, purchases of restaurant gift cards code as “Dining” and earn 2X. Check out Doctor of Credit’s “Payments Workshop” for thousands of Data Points on how stuff gets coded at various merchants on various cards. Be wary of old DPs.

Also, for another dip: Card-Linked Programs! Ebates/MileagePlus/others have one (don’t stack with each other, though) for in-store purchases – just go to the shopping portal and find “In-Store Cash Back.” United Visa Rewards will also give you extra on the United Explorer at certain merchants. BoA/Chase Offers and Amex Offers are the other issuer-dependent ones. Pei is another universal one that will earn a few % here and there (often places that don’t partner with others), but it makes you log in to your bank (runs on Plaid backend). Use these for a little extra boost when you need the shopping protections that your card provides, but that you’d lose if you bought a discounted gift card.

Finally, my favorite recent multiple-dips:
@ Macy’s:
Amex Offer on Macy’s ($10)
Pei ($2 back on every $20)
Ebates In-Store (6 MR/$)
@ Bed Bath and Beyond:
Amex Offer on Happy GC ($15 back on $100)
coupon (20% off one item)
Ebates In-Store (3 MR/$ – Happy GCs are Visa/MC!)

Reply to  George
1 year ago

Regarding MPX transactions being earning points as if the purchase was made from the merchant associated with the gift card, this isn’t what’s actually happening.

The MPX purchase transaction sets the Merchant Category Code to one that is generally representative of the gift card purpose. This can change at anytime, and changes made by the merchant will not be reflected for MPX purchases.

Reply to  UA
1 year ago

I am aware of that, and what I was trying to get across by saying the card “sees” it as that. And why I added the Payments Workshop bit, with the “old DPs” caveat.

That said, I can see how some may have been confused by it. So thanks for the clarification.

1 year ago

However, if you return something after buying this way, your refund will be a gift card, not credit.

1 year ago

Thanks for this helpful info!

1 year ago

Have you found you can use gift cards for purchases with TopCashback? I find my purchases regularly don’t track without using gift cards. Is anyone else having this issue? The company wants me to clear my cookies before every transaction, which is preposterous.

FYI, 4th layer, Citi Rewind the purchase until Sept 22. You may receive fewer points, but the Rewind is worth it.

Reply to  ssss
1 year ago

You can’t stack Citi Price Rewind with MPX. The item itself has to be purchased with your Citi card, and by going through MPX, you’re purchasing a gift card, not the item itself.

Reply to  ssss
1 year ago

Clear just cookies specific to the Topcashback website. Chrome allows you to easily identify cookies related to a specific site by searching for them in its settings. Then simply delete one by one from the list that shows.

Reply to  Neno
1 year ago

Great information to know! I just looked at Chrome and google, and I can’t figure it out. How do you clear the cookies for one site? Thank you for this super helpful tip.

Reply to  SSSS
1 year ago

On Chrome mobile, you can go to Settings > Site Settings. I don’t use my computer much for online shopping, but I think on the PC, when visiting the site itself, you can click somewhere around the address bar to access site-specific settings?