Online shopping portals are one of the easiest and quickest ways to earn extra points and miles on everyday spending. Adding one extra step to your online shopping routine is all it takes.
Visiting a shopping portal before every online purchase allows you to rack up a ton of extra airline miles or credit card points over time. Simply put, there’s no reason not to use a shopping portal.
Basics of Shopping Portals for Points and Miles
Before getting into the details, let’s outline the basics to how shopping portals work. Most airlines and some credit card companies will allow users to earn extra points and miles simply by visiting their website and using a link to access the online store.
If you’re planning on buying a pair of shoes from Adidas, instead of going directly to Adidas.com, you can visit the Alaska Air Shopping Portal, use their link to Adidas.com, and earn an extra 4 points per dollar spent. You still use your favorite credit card, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which earns 1.5x on every purchase.
For the $50 purchase, you would earn:
- 1.5x from Chase Freedom Unlimited: 75 Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 4 points per dollar through the Shopping Portal: 200 Alaska Air Mileage Plan
If a shopping portal hadn’t been used, you would have only earned 75 Chase Ultimate Rewards. But, thanks to spending an extra minute or two and clicking the link through the Alaska Air Shopping Portal, you earn another 200 Alaska Air Mileage Plan miles.
Different Shopping Portals
Many different airlines have shopping portals. I’ve actually used shopping portals to earn miles on All Nippon Airways for a future redemption I have in mind, Hawaiian Airlines to keep miles from expiring (more on this below), and Virgin Atlantic when there weren’t any better options.
But, the popular domestic airlines in the United States are listed below:
- Alaska Airlines: Mileage Plan Shopping
- American Airlines: AAdvantage eShopping
- Delta Airlines: SkyMiles Shopping
- JetBlue: ShopTrue
- Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping
- United: MileagePlus Shopping
Earning additional credit card points is also an option for shopping portals. The most popular is the Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal. Barclaycard and Wells Fargo also have shopping portals. In order to use these portals, you will need to have a card open for that bank.
For example, in order to use the Chase Shopping Portal, you will need to have a card like the Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Using the Chase Shopping Portal
Once you log into your Chase account, you will click “Earn bonus points” to access the shopping portal.
After accessing the portal, there are several ways to sort stores. If you know what online merchant you’re looking for, it’s easiest to search for a store.
Because Chase Ultimate Rewards are a transferrable point currency, extra Ultimate Rewards earned through the Chase shopping portal is like earning points for any of Chase’s 12 transfer partners.
There aren’t great options for hotel portals. Hilton discontinued theirs last year, and now there are just two of them left.
We’ve written a little bit about cash back portals as it pertains to Amazon, and the same holds true to other sites. Cash back portals like Ebates/Ratuken and Mr. Rebates work with most sites and will earn cash back. But is it better to earn cash back or points and miles?
Ratuken (formerly known as Ebates) actually offers new users the ability to earn American Express Membership Rewards instead of cash back. This would be on top of any Membership Rewards that would be earned through putting the purchase on cards like the American Express Gold Card or the American Express Everyday Card.
How to find and choose shopping portals
Not all shopping portals have the same bonuses, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best bonus possible. Thankfully, there’s a great website for this called Cashback Monitor.
I visit Cashback Monitor every time I purchase something online to make sure I’m using the right shopping portal. The nice thing about Cashback Monitor is that it shows bonuses from credit card portals, airline portals, and even cash back portals.
Using our Adidas example from earlier, here is what the Adidas store page on Cashback Monitor looks like. American gives five points per dollar, but I don’t really have American AAdvantage miles, so that’s of no interest to me. However, using the Chase Chopping Portal with my Freedom card is actually the best option as it gives 5 points per dollar.
When choosing shopping portals, it’s important to use the best option that makes sense for you. I fly Alaska Air and Southwest the most, so I typically use those when the Chase Shopping Portal isn’t the best option.
- Beware of promo codes. If you find a promotion on the shopping portal website, feel free to use it, but do not use promo codes from places like Retail Me Not or other websites. If you do, it’s against the terms and conditions of the site, and your purchase will not earn any points or miles through the portal.
- Shopping portals will have bonuses from time to time. Things like back to school season or Valentines Day will offer tiered bonuses based on spending. For the back to school version, many of the airline shopping portals
- I love to use portals to keep points from expiring. Nothing makes me crazier than having points expire, but shopping portals are a great way to keep this from happening. Since any account activity typically extends the expiration of the points or miles, earning just a single point through a shopping portal works. I have 7,579 American AAdvantage miles, but I rarely fly American. In order to keep them from expiring, I typically use AAdvantage eShopping once every 18 months.
- Many of the airline shopping portals have button extensions for browsers. While I don’t like to clutter my internet browser, it allows you to activate the specific portal once you’re already on the merchant website. For example, you go to adidas.com instead of a shopping portal first, a pop up will appear asking if you would like to activate the shopping portal.
- Bonuses change from time to time. Be sure you doublecheck the earning rates periodically when you’re shopping as they will increase and decrease for certain merchants.
Shopping portals are a no-brainer when it comes to earning extra points and miles toward free travel. Taking a few extra minutes before making online purchases can add up quickly, resulting in thousands of extra points over time.
These points and miles can be stacked, too, as the points and miles earned with your credit card will also be earned, so you’re earning double (or more) for every purchase.
Using websites like Cashback Monitor can also make it easier to figure out the best ways to maximize your earnings.
Start giving the different shopping portals a try before doing any online shopping to earn extra points and miles toward free travel.