How to Use Online Shopping Portals to Boost Rewards
Don’t Miss Your Chance to Double Dip
If you have a rewards credit card, you’re likely already earning cash back, points, or miles on every purchase you make.
But with some rewards programs, you can earn even more rewards by shopping through an online shopping portal. In fact, in many cases, you can earn rewards by shopping through a portal no matter which credit card you use. Shopping with a credit card in the same program is just a great way to maximize your reward opportunities.
If you’re in a loyalty program, and especially if you have a credit card within the same program, these online shopping portals should be on your radar. Here’s what you need to know.
With some shopping portals, such as Shop through Chase, you may be required to use specific credit cards to take advantage of extra-point offers, but for many airline and hotel programs, you just need to be registered in the program to earn bonuses through the portals. That said, if you have a credit card in that program, you can “double-dip” and earn even more points within the program. (Or you can use another card to earn rewards in two different programs.)
How Online Shopping Portals Work
When you shop online, the typical process involves purchasing something directly from the merchant’s website, either because you knew to go there or after you used a search engine to find a product or service. If you have a rewards credit card, you’ll earn cash back, points, or miles on that purchase, just as you would in a physical store.
Using an online shopping portal requires a different approach. First, you’ll typically have to be enrolled in the associated rewards program. (They are usually free and easy to join, and if you have a credit card in the program, you may have even been enrolled automatically.)
Portals partner with retailers and other merchants to provide bonus rewards on the same purchases you can make outside a portal. For example, you might get 3 points per dollar spent at Macy’s.
Because points or miles often need to be validated or approved by the retailer, they may take 15, 30, or even 45 days to post to your account, in some cases.
We’ll use the Delta SkyMiles program as an illustration of both the portal structure and the double-dipping concept.
Say, for instance, you fly Delta regularly and have a SkyMiles rewards account to accrue miles good toward airfare. One day you log in, go to the SkyMiles Shopping website, and begin browsing the more than 1,000 stores offering SkyMiles. When you see a special deal to earn 3 SkyMiles per $1 you spend at Adidas, you buy those new sneakers you’ve needed for $100, automatically earning 300 SkyMiles because the cookies have tracked your account.
Let’s say, though, that you use a Delta SkyMiles credit card to buy the sneakers, and that card pays 1 SkyMile per $1 on any non-Delta purchase. Your $100 sneakers have now earned you 400 SkyMiles: 300 from shopping through the portal and 100 from using your card.
Other portals only award bonus points with specific credit cards. For example, Chase offers as many as 15 bonus points per $1 when you use a Chase credit card to shop at more than 350 stores through its Shop through Chase portal.
So, let’s assume you use the Chase Freedom Unlimited and spend $100 with a retailer that offers 10 bonus points per $1. You’ll earn 150 points from the card (because the rewards rate is 1.5 points per $1 spent) and an extra 1,000 points from the shopping portal. That gives you rewards worth $11.50 instead of $1.50.
Some rewards programs also have separate in-store or online offers that work in a similar way, but you must register the card(s) you want to use first. Once you register one or more cards online, you can go directly to participating retailers to shop and get the extra rewards.
Online Shopping Portals Linked to Rewards Programs
|Loyalty Program||Online Shopping Portal||How to Access Portal|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||Mileage Plan Shopping||Enroll in Mileage Plan for free|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||AAdvantage eShopping||Enroll in the AAdvantage Program for free|
|British Airways Executive Club||British Airways eStore||Enroll in the Executive Club for free|
|Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||SkyMiles Shopping||Enroll in SkyMiles for free|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||TrueBlue Shopping||Enroll in TrueBlue for free|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping||Enroll in Rapid Rewards for free|
|United MileagePlus||MileagePlus Shopping||Enroll in MileagePlus for free|
|Choice Privileges||Choice Privileges Online Mall||Enroll in Choice Privileges Rewards for free|
|Wyndham Rewards||Wyndham Rewards Shopping||Enroll in Wyndham Rewards for free|
|Barclays||Barclaycard RewardsBoost||Have an eligible Barclaycard account|
|Chase||Shop through Chase||Have an eligible Chase account|
|Citi||Citi Bonus Cash Center||Have an eligible Citi account|
|Wells Fargo’s Go Far Rewards||Earn More Mall||Have an eligible Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards account|
While the bank-run shopping portals may require that you have an eligible card to access their portal, and may even say you have to pay with one of those eligible cards to earn the extra rewards, that may not always be the case. You may be able to use another bank’s credit card (or even a debit or gift card) to complete your purchases once on a retailer’s site.
Other Online Shopping Portals
There are also online shopping portals that are completely separate from traditional credit card and travel rewards programs. These also require enrollment, which again is free, but the rewards are more often cash rather than points or miles. Here are a few examples:
- BeFrugal: Get cash back or gift cards
- Rakuten: Get cash back, or choose to earn American Express Membership Rewards
- Swagbucks: Get cash back via PayPal or as gift cards, enter sweepstakes or make charitable donations
- TopCashback: Get cash back or gift cards
Tips for Using Online Shopping Portals
With so many shopping portals offering rewards on purchases, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. If simplicity is your top priority, you may want to stick with just one portal. But if you want to maximize your rewards, using multiple portals is probably the way to go.
In fact, the same retail partners are often partnered with many shopping portals, and the rewards rates are often different. Websites like Cashback Monitor and Evreward show these comparisons in one place, making it easy to compare rates before you buy.
Either way you do it, here are some ways to help make sure you’re getting the best rewards available:
- Make sure cookies are enabled: Make sure your browser settings aren’t blocking the cookies that enable your shopping to be tracked.
- Disable ad blocking software: If you use software to block advertisements, it could cause you to miss out on your rewards. To prevent this from happening, consider disabling it when you’re shopping online.
- Add a browser extension: To make things easier, some online shopping portals have a browser extension or “button” that will pop up when you’re on a partner website so you don’t have to go through the portal website every time.
- Don’t dawdle: If you visit a retailer’s website through the shopping portal, leave and come back later, the shopping visit may time out, and you’ll have to start the process all over again.
- Read the fine print: Some retailers may have some products that are excluded from earning bonus rewards, and certain purchases may earn lower bonus rewards rates than others.