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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, Capital One Venture Card
While tons of stores, airlines and hotels offered fantastic deals starting on Black Friday, today is Cyber Monday, which means there are all kinds of fantastic discounts, rebates and bonuses you can take advantage of by shopping online. Here are some ways you can maximize the deals.
Note: I will only be pointing out an example of points bonuses through shopping portals since everyone is looking for different things to buy, but this is more of a general guide to maximizing online shopping portals and other sites like Big Crumbs to help you find the biggest discounts with the retailers you’re interested in.
Online Shopping Portals
Many of the major airline and hotel programs as well as Ultimate Rewards from Chase have online shopping portals. Online shopping portals are sites where these programs work with partner retailers – including many of the big familiar names like Target, Best Buy, Gap, Walmart, etc. – to offer loyalty program members multiple points or miles per dollar they spend there.
To earn those bonuses, you must register your frequent flyer/hotel points/credit card account with the online shopping portal and then when you click through to a retailer, it puts a cookie on your computer that can track your purchase and earn you the bonus points. Pretty simple as long as you make sure to click through the online shopping portal before shopping online.
One of the other great things is that you can pretty much use any credit card you want to make the purchase, so even if you’re going through the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping portal, you don’t have to use a Citi/AA card, you can use your Delta Amex and earn both the bonus American miles and whatever Delta miles you would normally earn on the purchase.
Here is a list of online shopping portals:
Air Canada: Aeroplan EStore
Amtrak: Amtrak Guest Rewards
British Airways: BA Miles Estore
Chase: Ultimate Rewards Shopping
Choice Rewards: Choice Privileges Mall
Citi: Thank You Shopping
Frontier: Early Returns Mall
Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian Airlines eMarket
Hilton HHonors: Hilton HHonors Shop to Earn Mall
Marriott Rewards: Shop My Way
Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping
US Airways: Dividend Miles Shopping Mall
Virgin Atlantic: ShopsAway
Just note that many portals will exclude the purchase of gift cards from accruing points/miles, however the systems often do not detect gift cards and you can still get the bonus points. On top of that, when it comes time to use those gift cards, you can go back through the online shopping portals and potentially earn miles on your purchase using the gift cards. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a classic double dip.
Before you go through the portals one by one looking for merchants, though, I’d first suggest visiting a site called EVReward.com where you can search by retailer (since many of us shop according to what we need to buy instead of just by the points or miles we need to earn) and compare the bonuses each online shopping portal is offering. It’s an extremely handy site.
I generally prefer accruing Chase/Amex points because they are transferable to a number of different partners, but sometimes the Ultimate Rewards portal isn’t offering any bonus at particular retailers, so in that case if bonuses through other portals are much better, I’d go that route instead.
There are also two sites that offer cash back rebates when you click through to a merchant from them.
If you’re interested in going this route instead, here are some quick instructions for you:
1. Create a BigCrumbs or Ebates account.
2. Once logged in, search for your retailer of choice, and if the rebate is tempting, click on it to be redirected to its site.
3. Shop as usual and when you check out, pay with your credit card, and then look out for a cash back credit on your statement.
Category Spending Bonuses
But we’re not done yet. Remember, many great travel credit cards also offer lucrative category spending bonuses at various types of merchants. You can check out this post for Maximizing Category Bonuses on Credit Card Spend, but here are a few of the cards I spend the most on and which categories they earn bonuses in as a reminder:
American Express Premier Rewards Gold: 3X points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines, 2x for gas and groceries. 15,000 point bonus with $30,000 in spend each calendar year.
American Express Business Gold Rewards: 3X points per dollar on airfare (on all scheduled U.S. and international passenger airlines), 2X points on advertising with select media (graphic design, tradeshows and advertising services), gas (from stand-alone U.S. gas and commercial fuel stations) and shipping (in the U.S. for courier, postal, and freight services) and 1X points on other eligible purchases.
Arrival: 2X per $1 on all purchases
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: 2X per $1 on all purchases
Chase Ink Bold and Chase Ink Plus - 5x office supplies, wireless and land-line phone and cable (including internet), 2x on gas and dining
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 2x on travel and dining
Chase United Club Card: 1.5 points on all spend, 2.5 on United airlines spend
Chase Freedom: 5x rotating categories that now include department stores and Amazon
Citi Forward Card: 5x on restaurants, books, movies and music
Citi Thank You Preferred: 2x points on purchases for dining and entertainment, and 1 ThankYou point for every dollar you spend on other purchases.
So depending on what credit card and shopping portal you use, you could be raking in dozens of points or miles (or both) per dollar in purchases, all of which adds up fast.
As I said, I’m not going to go through each portal in detail to outline the bonuses since there are just too many and everyone is interested in their own thing, but here are a couple you can look out for – and if you find any of your own, be sure to report back here and share them!
I always check EVRewards first because it generally has an accurate picture of the bonuses being offered, but it’s not always complete, so if you find that a merchant is offering bonuses through one or several shopping portals but not the credit card, airline or hotel one you’re looking to accrue points in, it’s still worth double checking your preferred portal first before buying through another. Also keep in mind that most of these offers and deals are valid only for Cyber Monday.
I value AA miles at around 1.9 cents apiece. For example, I’d gladly pay $1,282.50 for a one-way first class ticket to Asia on Cathay Pacific (67,500 miles) or pay $380 for a one-way award from Hawaii to NY and then onto Europe at a later time and date, (which is only 20,000 miles as long as the first leg departs in the off-peak season of October 15-April 15).
So at that valuation, you’re looking at a pretty large return on your spend with the below offers, especially if you include category spending bonuses.
Rosetta Stone: Get 21 miles per dollar spent on Rosetta Stone Software, plus get $225 off the original price and free next day air shipping.
Perfumania.com: Get 12 miles per dollar spent and many products are 35% off.
Restaurant.com: Get 33 miles per dollar spent and $3 for $25 restaurant gift certificates.
Nordstrom.com: Get 4 miles per dollar spent.
Don’t forget about the American Airlines Spending bonuses. If you spend $75, you will earn a bonus of 750 miles, if you spend $150, you will earn 1,500 miles, and if you spend $250 you can earn a bonus of 2,500 miles. The spending is cumulative, so it doesn’t all have to be one purchase, but you have to make your purchases by 11:59pm ET tonight.
Delta Skymiles Shopping
Shoes.com: Get 15 miles per dollar spent.
WSJ Wine: Get 12 miles per dollar spent.
Neiman Marcus: Get 4 miles per dollar spent.
Until December 5th, Delta also offers bonuses for shopping. You can earn 250 miles per every $115 you spend up to 2,500 miles.
Ebates has some amazing Cyber Monday deals, offering extra percentages of cash back in addition to Cyber Monday Sales.
The Body Shop: 15% cash back and 50% off Cyber Monday Sale
JC Penny: 12% cash back plus sales and discounts on various items.
Macys: 10% cash back plus sales and discounts on various items.
Drugstore.com: 10% cash back plus sales and discounts on various items.
The versatility of Ultimate Rewards points means that even if the points per dollar ratio is not as high as others, I may take advantage of these deals anyway. Not only can you transfer them to British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic and United as well as Hyatt, Priority Club, Marriott and Amtrak, plus you can use Ultimate Rewards’ Pay With Points to pay for travel outright at a rate of 1.25 cents per point if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink plus, so you’re getting at least an 18.75% return on your spending.
Kohl’s: Get 10 extra points per dollar and 20% off now through Tuesday.
eBags: 8 extra points per $1.
JC Penney: Get 4 extra points per $1.
Nordstrom: 5 extra points per $1.
Restaurant.com: 15 extra points per $1.
Sephora: Get 6 extra points per $1.
Elizabeth Arden: Get 4 miles per dollar spent and 20% off plus free 10-piece beauty gift plus free shipping with any $59 order.
Famous Footwear: Get 4 miles per dollar spent plus 20% off and free shipping.
LastCall by Neiman Marcus: Get 4 miles per dollar spent plus 40% off everything.
Clarins: Get 4 miles per dollar spent plus 9 piece gift (including beautiful bag) with any $60 order.
Sears.com: Get 6 miles per dollar spent today. Also get an extra 5-15% off featured categories plus free shipping on most orders $59 or more. Expires 12/4/13.
eBags: Get 12 miles per dollar through 12/2/13, and for one day only an extra 20% off site wide.
Kohl’s: Get 3 miles per dollar through 12/7/13 and 20% off everything on Kohls.com using promo code CYBERSAVE. Expires 12/4/13.
As I said, this is just a sampling, so be sure to check your shopping portals of choice for offers and read the fine print carefully because many expire a midnight Eastern Time tonight, so these won’t last long!