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Video SRQ: How Does the Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal Work?

by on June 2, 2013 · 13 comments

in Chase, Shopping, Ultimate Rewards

TPG reader Joseph would like some clarification on how the Ultimate Rewards Shopping portal works:

“I just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, but I’m a little confused about the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. Is this like Ebates, where you try to click through from this website before making a purchase?

I think what has me confused is that people often talk about earning 3 or 4 cents when making travel purchases from Ultimate Rewards, and I can’t tell if it’s just because they click through before booking a flight or hotel (on say Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) or if this is for folks who redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel with the added bonus?

On a side note, do you now recommend booking airfare or hotels through something like Orbitz via Ultimate Rewards versus with the airline or hotel themselves? Are points and/or elite benefits still earned and recognized for those hotel stays and airline flights booked through such consolidators?”

Welcome to the Ultimate Rewards club!  Using the shopping portal is really simple and can help to give your points balance a nice boost. In order to make a purchase through the portal, first log into your Ultimate Rewards account and click the “Earn Faster” tab on the top right that will take you into the shopping portal.

Once in the Ultimate Rewards Mall you'll see the top retailers and their earning ratio.

Once in the Ultimate Rewards Mall you’ll see the top merchants and their earning ratios.

The Ultimate Rewards Mall is really lucrative in general, but you always want to check other portals to make sure the Amerian AAdvantage or Delta SkyMiles shopping portals aren’t going to give you a vastly better earning ratio for points or miles per dollar spent.

Usually on the first of each month there will be different earning ratios for the various retailers so you should use sites like EVreward and rewardsDB that will compare earning ratios for all the different shopping portals so you can maximize the amount of points or miles that you’ll earn on your purchase.

The portal will tell you how many points per dollar you will receive for a certain as well as current deals.

The portal will tell you how many points per dollar you will receive for a certain merchant as well as current deals.

Once you’re in the shopping portal you can search for your preferred retailer. Let’s say you’re looking to make a purchase from Nordstrom.com. Enter “Nordstrom” in the search box and the merchant will come up as well as the number of points per dollar that you will earn on the purchase. If you then click the link for Nordstrom you will be redirected to Nordstrom.com. You won’t see anything different once you are on the retailer’s website, but by using the portal it puts a cookie on your computer and when you check out, as long as your purchases are eligible, you will get a nice little deposit in your Ultimate Rewards account in about a week or so.

I try to always use a Chase card when using the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, which isn’t absolutely necessary, but if for some reason a bonus doesn’t post Chase representatives are much more willing to give courtesy postings if you used a Chase card.

Booking Travel Through the Ultimate Rewards Portal

Travelocity earns 2 pts/$ while Orbitz and Expedia only earn 1 pt/$.

Travelocity earns 2 pts/$ while Orbitz and Expedia only earn 1 pt/$.

When it comes to booking flights through the Ultimate Rewards portal, right now you should book using Travelocity because you will earn 2 points per dollar you spend. Those two points are on top of the two points per dollar you’ll be earning by paying with your Sapphire Preferred as well as the 7% points dividend you receive at the end of the year (which you’ll earn on all those bonus points as well). Essentially you’ll be getting 4.28 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on any travel booked through Travelocity because you’ll also be getting an additional bonus for booking through Ultimate Rewards. If you book through Orbitz and Expedia you only receive 1 extra point per dollar through the portal, so 3.21 points per dollar all told.

You will still earn elite status and get upgraded on flights when booking through sites like Orbitz and Travelocity, but you may have some difficulty if your flight gets cancelled. The airline could tell you that you must contact your travel agent in order to get rebooked, but it usually isn’t too much of an issue.

With hotels it’s a bit of a different story. If you book a hotel through one of those travel sites you probably won’t earn elite status credit or points for the nights you stay and the rates you book. Hotels generally try to make you book directly through their website in order to earn credit with their loyalty programs. Some people have reported still earning points and elite credit and enjoying their elite benefits on stays booked through online agencies, but in general I would not expect to have your stay booked through one of those online travel agents count towards your elite status.

Using shopping portals is such an easy way to earn extra points and miles so if you’re not already shopping through portals, definitely check it out and keep it in mind for your next online purchase. Hopefully this answered your questions, but if not please comment below or tweet me @thepointsguy!

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • AJ

    Can you transfer points from MyPoints dot com to Chase?

  • RobM

    Re: your Nordstrom Example – wouldn’t one be better off using a Chase Ink card at an office supply store to purchase Nordstrom Gift Cards @ 5X UR Points, then making the purchase through the UR Shopping Portal and also receiving the “nice little deposit in your Ultimate Rewards account”?

  • Joe

    Thanks for the thorough reply to my question! It seems, however, that booking on southwest doesn’t earn any bonuses through the portal or places like Travelocity.

  • Rob P

    Yep Southwest flights have to be booked on their site. However they give you some points after your flight, and with your Sapphire you’ll get 2.14X points on the airfare purchase. A better way to buy Southwest flights is to buy Southwest gift cards with an Ink card at an office supply store for 5X points.

  • Corky

    Worth mentioning that the bonus from using a particular card, e.g. Ink, will show up separately from the bonus for using the mall.

  • thepointsguy

    Buying Southwest gift cards with Ink is the best bang for your points!

  • thepointsguy

    Yes.. but if you don’t have an Ink card, you might as well go through the portal

  • thepointsguy

    No- Chase points only transfer externally- no non-Chase points can transfer in

  • Ben Looney

    If one finds a cheaper rate for a hotel on a site like Orbits/Priceline/Travelocity etc compared to the hotel’s own site, isn’t this when we should be using that hotel’s Best Rate Guarantee? It’s a little complicated because all the major hotel chains have different BRG policies, but it may be worth it. Also, Marriott comes up in Chase’s UR mall sometimes. So by clicking through that would give you an extra point or two, plus you’ll be booking directly with Marriott (which, again, would set you up to use a BRG if you find a cheaper rate elsewhere). Please correct me if I’m wrong TPG, I’m a relative newb compared to some/you.

  • Ben

    Shopping portals are great, but I recently got burned for not reading the disclaimer. Sears was offering 4 miles per $ thru the SkyMiles Shopping Portal. I bought a $2K fridge thinking of all the miles I was going to get, turns out the disclaimer stated that brand was not eligible for miles!!! I was so pissed!

  • thepointsguy

    You can always still email the portal and ask for the credit..never hurts!

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  • Joe

    So, do you have to book with a Chase card on a purchase made through the portal?

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