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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days of the years, and while you can get some amazing hotel offers, in-store deals and other discounts, it’s also a perfect opportunity to maximize points and miles earning for shopping via online portals.
What are Shopping Portals?
Shopping portals act as middlemen, inviting customers to shop at specific retailers by offering extra points, miles, or cash back. Usually they’re run by third party e-commerce websites. The retailers pay the portals some percentage of any purchases you make in exchange for sending business their way. In turn, the portals give you an incentive to spend more by offering miles and points that they purchase from loyalty programs at a steep discount.
Generally everyone wins: the retailer gets more business; the shopping portal makes money for nudging the transaction along; the airlines, hotels, and other loyalty programs make money from the points and miles they sell (that they hope never get redeemed); and the savvy shopper gets an extra return on every dollar spent, especially around the holidays, where certain portals offer more miles/points for specific vendors.
How Do I Use Them?
To earn those extra points and miles, you must first register your frequent flyer, hotel, or credit card loyalty account (e.g., American Airlines AAdvantage, Marriott Rewards, or Chase Ultimate Rewards) with the online shopping portal. Then, when you click through to a retailer, the portal adds a cookie on your computer that can track your purchases and deliver your bonus points.
One of the best aspects of shopping portals is that you can use whatever credit card you want to make the purchase, even if it’s not affiliated with the portal. For example, if you’re using the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping portal, you don’t have to use a Citi/AA card; you could use your Chase Sapphire Preferred card and earn both bonus AAdvantage miles and whatever Chase Ultimate Rewards points you would normally earn on the purchase.
Here is a list of online shopping portals:
- Air Canada: Aeroplan EStore
- Alaska: Mileage Plan Shopping
- American: AAdvantageEshopping.com
- Amtrak: Amtrak Guest Rewards
- British Airways: BA Miles Estore
- Chase: Ultimate Rewards Shopping
- Choice Rewards: Choice Privileges Mall
- Citi: Thank You Shopping
- Delta: SkyMilesShopping.com
- Discover: ShopDiscover
- Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian Airlines eMarket
- Hilton HHonors: Hilton HHonors Shop to Earn Mall
- Marriott Rewards: Shop My Way
- Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping
- United: MileagePlusShopping.com
- US Airways: Dividend Miles Shopping Mall
- Virgin Atlantic: ShopsAway
Many portals exclude the purchase of gift cards from accruing points/miles, however the systems often don’t 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 again on your purchase. 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 suggest first visiting a site called EVReward.com, where you can search by retailer and compare the bonuses offered by each online shopping portal. It’s not always 100% accurate (sometimes it’s not updated quickly enough, as the portals are constantly changing and offering new deals), but at least you can get a sense of your options and the return you’ll earn. Just double check with the portal in question to confirm the bonus before you buy. EVReward also offers coupon codes and discounts, as well as info on cash back rebates.
I can’t list every deal from every portal this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but below is a list of portals that are offering strong returns at some popular retailers. Keep in mind that each portal (and in some cases, each retailer) has a specific date when their special offer expires, so pay attention to those dates to ensure you get your offer.
Most of the pre-Thanksgiving holiday spend bonuses have already ended, but stay tuned, because portals may pull out steep discounts at midnight on Cyber Monday.
- Famous Footwear: 5 miles/$
- Bose: 6 miles/$
- Disney Store: 4 miles/$
- Fannie May: 6 miles/$
- Kiehls: 9 miles/$
- Nike: 8 miles/$
- Nike: 10 miles/$
- Vera Bradley: 6 miles/$
- Disney: 4 miles/$
- Saks Fifth Avenue: 5 miles/$
- Neiman Marcus: 6 points/$ (Free shipping/returns until Dec. 31, 2014)
- Toys R Us: 4 miles/$
Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Apple Store: 3 points/$
- Guitar Center: 4 points/$
- Nordstrom: 7 points/$
- Macys: 6 points/$
- FTD.com: 35 miles/$
- L’Occitane: 3 miles/$
- Nordstrom: 4 miles/$
- Restaurant.com: 8 miles/$
- Neiman Marcus: 9 miles/$ (Expires Dec. 1, 2014)
- Target: 3 points/$
- REI: 5 points/$
- Saks Fifth Avenue: 10 points/$
- Lord & Taylor: 4 points/$
- Toms: 4 points/$
- Clinique: 4 points/$ (Free Holiday Kit of 3 favorites with any $45 purchase. Kit includes Happy Fragrance, Deep Comfort Hand and Cuticle Cream, and Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief. Use promo code MERRY until Dec. 31, 2014).
- Neiman Marcus: 6 points/$
- Global Wine Cellars: 4 miles/$ (Save 50% on 6 limited-production boutique wines with promo code GWCNOV14 until Dec. 16, 2014)
- Kohls: 3 miles/$
- Magazines.com, 12 miles/$
- Neiman Marcus, 4 miles/$ (Save up to 40% off Better Apparel and 25% off children’s until Dec. 1, 2014)
- Nordstrom.com, 4 miles/$ (Save up to 40% off selected products until Dec. 1, 2014)
For more information on maximizing your return from credit card spending during this holiday shopping season, make sure to read this post. If you spot other good deals and portal bonuses, please share them with your fellow readers in the comments below! With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.