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Maximize Your Points and Miles This Holiday Shopping Season

by on November 21, 2011 · 46 comments

in American, American Express, Delta, IHG Rewards, Shopping, Ultimate Rewards, United, US Airways

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One of the easiest ways to rack up a ton of points is by shopping online. Airline and credit card shopping portals make it very easy – all you have to do is click their simple link to your retailers website and they’ll automatically kick you back a certain number of points (usually based on how much you spend).

Why do they do this? Well retailers want to increase their sales so they will give commissions to anyone (including me through my marketing company) for any business they send their way. The amount ranges, but I’ve seen offers generally in the 6-10% range. So basically, airline shopping malls probably buy miles for about a cent a piece or less, so they give you 1-3 cents usually for every 6-10 cents you make them. Not a bad deal, huh?

So basically, when you go directly to a retailers website to shop you are throwing points (aka money) in the trash. Always click through a shopping portal or cashback link when they are available!

Here are the main mileage/point shopping portals and some of their sweet upcoming deals:
I will do almost all of my shopping at the Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Mall (you must be a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold card holder):
November 21: 10 points per dollar spent at Kohls.com
November 22: 20 points per dollar spent at shoes.com
November 23: 10 points per dollar spent at HSN.com
November 24: 10 points per dollar spent at toysrus.com
November 25: 10 points per dollar spent at BestBuy.com
November 26: 10 points per dollar spent at Macys.com
November 27: 5 points per dollar spent at OfficeMax.com
November 28: 10 points per dollar spent at apple.com (I’m finally breaking down and getting an iPad!)
November 29-Dec 15: Tons of offers, including 10 points per dollar at Target.com on December 5.

Nov 29- Dec 15 Chase Offering

Air Canada: Aeroplan EStore: 2 miles per dollar spent on ebay.ca, miles per dollar at gap.com and oldnavy.com.
American: AAdvantageEshopping.com: They are giving 500 bonus miles for spending $500-$999 or 1,000 for spending over $1,000 by December 31, 2011, registration required. 7 points per dollar at Perfumania.com.
American Express: Bonus Points Mall. 6 points per dollar at target.com and bloomingdales.com.
Delta: Skymilesshopping.com. 7 miles per dollar at groupon.com and 8 miles per dollar at jcrew.com.
Priority Club Shopping: Spend $400+ and get 1,000 bonus points.  8 points per dollar at LandsEnd.com
Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping. 25 points per dollar at magazines.com.
US Airways: Dividend Miles Storefront. (I think they have the least lucrative shopping offers). 5 miles per dollar at Omaha Steaks, 6 miles per dollar at godaddy.com.
United: Mileageplusshopping.com. 1,000 point bonus when you spend $250 or more with selected retailers. 8 miles per dollar spent on groupon.com.

Please let me know if I’ve missed any good offers and I’ll update this post. Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Raj B

    UR is offering 12 pts/$ for Groupon purchases through Dec. Great deal, although not as lucrative as last Monday’s 20 pts/$ special, but still a much better value than Delta’s 7 SMs/$.

  • Valerie G

    Would you spend more money on a single item (e.g., offered at two different stores for the same airline) because one store offers more miles for the item? Looking at a pair of shoes on two websites. One site will give me 1130 miles and the other will give me 285 for a difference of $20. Not used to “playing the game,” so advice would be helpful! Free shipping and free returns on both, so that’s not a factor. :) Thanks.

  • Raj B

    Valerie, unless you need those extra miles this minute to redeem a specific reward, I would save the money and get the fewer miles.

    The extra miles will cost you appx 2.4 cpm, which is pretty expensive.
    [$20/845 miles = $0.024/mile]

  • Anonymous

    Agree with Raj. I might pay an extra 1 cent per mile but 2.4 isn’t worth it

  • mike

    With apple 10 points is great. but I think I will use my amex plat for the extra year protection and take 6 points per dollar. I like getting that extra year of protection for using Amex, I don’t think the sapphire offers that correct???

  • Clay

    Thanks for the 1000 free AA Points! I spend more than that in their mall and would have never seen the offer!

  • Dave Op

    I don’t have anything specific to buy at the stores offering 10 points/mile. Can you buy gift cards and get the 10 points?

  • Rob

    Membership Rewards is doing 5x at Target and Apple.com, many more offers at the MR website.

  • Valerie G

    Thanks! I was able to find a discount code for the website with the lower miles that actually brought my total cost down to $81. So only 243 miles, but I’m learning how to play! I don’t need the miles immediately; looking to frugally reach 100,000 SkyMiles by June (I have 96,000 right now) for a trip at the end of the summer.

  • joediver

    My wife is a HUGE Kohls shopper. She will often combine coupons for great savings. The problem is Kohls requires you use the Koh’s credit card for some of these deals. Can I still get the UR points going through their portal but using the Kohls card?

  • Anonymous

    People have reported getting the points even with nonUR card. Can’t hurt to try! Report back if it works

  • Phil

    if you want to get the ipad you are better trying bestbuy on nov 25th. i think you will likely get 5-10% off on black friday (they are offering it at $45 off currently to their “elite” rewards members) and then you’ll get the 10x

    i plan to do that to upgrade my imac. i can sell my current one for $900+ on ebay and buy brand new version of same at bb for $1200 minus expected $150 discount and the ~10k chase ur points are like an effective $1-200 rebate on top of that so replace with the latest version, new guarantee etc for pretty much a wash.

  • David Floyd

    You missed that Ultimate Rewards is giving 12points per dollar for Groupons (at least) till end of year. This can seriously stack up if you get a great groupon in your area. Groupon also has a holiday program to send groupons as holiday gifts…

  • Gavinmac

    UR is offering 8 extra points per mile (so I guess that’s 9 points per mile) at Barnes and Noble. And you can use it to buy gift certificates, unlike some of the other deals where gift certificates are excluded. Also, if you buy $100 or more in gift certificates in a single transaction, you get a one time $10 Barnes and Noble e-card back. I think.

  • Drguercio17

    How do you get these points through Groupon?

  • nyugator

    Don’t totally disregard Dividend Miles store. I recently made a 1800flowers purchase that gave 25 pts pers dollar spent. Pretty awesome haul for flowers I would have sent anyway.

  • MJLouise

    Are all these malls run by the infamous Cartera? Does anyone have hints on how to document & track these bonuses? They do such a poor job of actually awarding points / miles that I have almost given up on them, except for special circumstances like the Grand Slam.

  • Steelsnow

    Make sure you read the terms on the link that takes you to Kohl’s thru the UR site. It does state that she cannot use a discount coupon for greater than 15% with her Kohl’s card and earn points currently. Not sure if it is being enforced, but this might be a deal breaker for her if she has a 30% coupon.

  • Andre LaPlume

    I’m guessing the UR 25% off sale on the 28 th won’t include Apple products?

  • Anonymous

    That 25% sale is only when using UR points to buy stuff

  • InTheD

    Just stumbled upon this website the other day http://www.nerdwallet.com/discounts/ All you do is type in what retailer you want and it tell you all the award programs attached to it and how many points each program is giving per dollar. This way you can maximize your reward points.

  • Andre LaPlume

    Thanks, TPG. Would it be better to buy an IPad with the 10x points bonus or at a 25% discount, in your humble opinion?

  • hc

    Thanks so much for listing this!! I was planning on also breaking down and getting an iPad.. now I know to get it on the 28th!! Awesome!

  • Andre LaPlume

    Amazing site – most helpful.

    Thanks!

  • lkar

    The one thing that tempers some of my excitement about using the UR mall is that virtually all of the retailers that give decent bonuses also charge me tax and shipping, for things that I could often buy on other sites without paying those. For example, I can buy about $200 worth of toys at toys r us under the promo and get 2k UR points, plus paying about $16 in tax. Or, I can find the same toys for about $192 from a different vendor on a rewards shopping mall that only gives me 2x points but does not charge me tax. For those sorts of deals, I view it as buying 2k UR points for $24.

    Or, consider apple. I’m in the market for a 128 gb 13.3 macbook air. I can purchase it at amazon for $1234.00 all in, or on apple store on 11/28 earning about 13,000 UR points, for $1410. While buying 13k UR points for $176 is worth it to me, it is only barely so.

  • lkar

    Sears and Overstock appear to permit points on purchases of gift cards. Check the T&C on the days they are offering 10x carefully, though.

  • Tcmaes

    I do not see the rapid rewards shopping mall deal of $0.25 per dollar for magazines.com. I am only seeing $0.20 per dollar.

    This may be a good way to purchase some additional miles if you are close to earning your Companion Pass on Southwest Airlines.

  • Anonymous

    Geez, I recently bought a MacBook Air. I did get 2x points and helped meet my Chase Sapphire spend, but 10x points would be enough for a roundtrip flight!

    Thanks for the heads up, I’m gonna have to consider my options now.

  • Kay_jay

    I don’t have Chase Sapphire or Ink, but I do have Chase freedom card, which again gives you the same cashback as Brian mentioned. Correct me if I am wrong

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  • SarahA

    Be aware that *sometimes* using a discount code will invalidate getting miles. This has happened to me a few times (usually when ordering flowers) – when I inquired why my miles hadn’t posted yet, I was told it was because I’d used a code (i.e. Free Shipping or “10% off 1 item” – that sort of thing).

  • Andre From Sac

    Ah man, I bought my IPhone too early to earn the 10 points, instead of 2 points. I knew I should have read your blog first…As usual thanks for the advice. :)

  • Jwsky

    I have had bad luck shopping throught AA and CO. About one out of four purchases either never deliver the points or it takes forever. I have to e mail them over and over sometimes. I bought something at Home Depot through AA last May. In October they announced my purchase was made. Then another email saying the points were on the way. I still do not have them. And I am very carefull about processing the order correctly through their website.
    I still keep trying, but no longer waste my time following up when nothing happens.

  • Guest

    Specifically for Apple, have you considered buying refurbished items? They’re only available on the Apple Store and typically cost less than the tax-free alternatives

  • lkar

    Great tip. With tax, the refurbished seem to come out about the same as new with no tax, but of course you get the 10x (I think — I don’t see a restriction for refurbished items).

  • MJLouise

    You can use a Sears gift card at Land End, in person or online.
    http://www.landsend.com/cd/popup/0,,copyName=pop_giftcard_0204_faq.html
    Can I redeem a Sears® or Kmart® Gift Card at Lands’ End?
    Yes! Sears® and Kmart® Gift Cards can be redeemed at landsend.com, by phone, or in Lands’ End® retail stores. You’ll need your 16-digit Gift Card number and 8-digit PIN. (Sorry. We cannot accept Sears® or Kmart® Gift Cards that do not have the 8 digit PIN or Kmart® cards that have a 19-digit account number.)

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  • Anonymous

    My AA purchases always post like clockwork. Have never used the CO site

  • Anonymous

    Right- the key difference is that you can’t transfer those points to airlines/hotels

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  • http://www.tukwilatalk.com Chuck Parrish

    Ultimate Rewards: 15pts/$ thru EOM Jan. 2012

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