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The holiday season brings a variety of point and miles earning opportunities. Whether it’s buying gifts for your favorite traveler or using the best credit card for these purchases, you can do many things to boost your account balances before the end of the year. One of the best ways to do this is through airline shopping portals, and one carrier just sweetened the deal for those of you in need of last-minute gifts.

United December bonus
If you’ve waited until the last minute for your holiday gift purchases, you may be able to earn bonus United miles.

Through December 24, you can earn bonus United miles and take advantage of other discounts when you shop at select retailers through MileagePlus Shopping. These offers are actually grouped into four different categories:

  1. Green Monday (generally the second Monday in December and the third largest online shopping day of the year)
  2. Free Shipping
  3. BOPUIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In Store)
  4. eGift Cards & Last Minute Gifts

Many also include higher bonus rates for holders of United co-branded credit cards (including the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase, which is currently offering 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open). Let’s take a closer look and see if any of these bonuses are worth your while.

Green Monday

As mentioned above, Green Monday generally refers to the second Monday in December and typically is the third largest online shopping day of the year (behind Cyber Monday and the Tuesday immediately following Cyber Monday). It dates back almost 10 years and started with eBay. Not surprisingly, the online auction site is one retailer with elevated offers for United miles in this first wave.

Here’s the full list along with applicable dates:

Retailer

Usual bonus (cardholder)

Usual bonus (non-cardholder)

Elevated bonus (cardholder)

Elevated bonus (non-cardholder)

Applicable dates

eBay

1 mile/$

0.5 miles/$

4 miles/$

3 miles/$

December 11 – 14

New Balance

5 miles/$

3 miles/$

10 miles/$

10 miles/$

December 12 – 14

Macy’s

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

6 miles/$

6 miles/$

December 12 – 14

Kohl’s

2 miles/$

1 mile/$

6 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 11 – 14

HP Home

2 miles/$

1 mile/$

4 miles/$

2 miles/$

December 11 – 14

Lenovo

2 miles/$

1 mile/$

4 miles/$

2 miles/$

December 11 – 14

Bose

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

4 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 11 – 12

Omaha Steaks

6 miles/$

4 miles/$

10 miles/$

10 miles/$

December 11 – 14

Aveda

5 miles/$

3 miles/$

10 miles/$

8 miles/$

December 11 – 14

As you can see, many of the merchants are offering a big jump through the end of the day today (12/14), and there are several with much higher earning rates for cardholders. Just be sure you pull the trigger soon! These bonuses end at 11:59pm tonight.

Free Shipping

The second wave includes both bonus miles as well as free shipping offers. Here’s a detailed break-down of the merchants in this category:

Retailer

Usual bonus (cardholder)

Usual bonus (non-cardholder)

Elevated bonus (cardholder)

Elevated bonus (non-cardholder)

Applicable dates

Barneys New York

2 miles/$

1 mile/$

4 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 17 – 18

Toys “R” Us

1 mile/$

0.5 miles/$

3 miles/$

2 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 17 – 18

Dell Home

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

4 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 17 – 18

The Finish Line

4 miles/$

3 miles/$

8 miles/$

8 miles/$

December 17 – 18

Kmart

3 miles/$

2 miles/$

6 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 17 – 18

Bed, Bath & Beyond

2 miles/$

1 mile/$

4 miles/$

3 miles/$

December 15 – 18

Bloomingdale’s

3 miles/$

2 miles/$

6 miles/$

6 miles/$

December 15 – 18

Nordstrom

4 miles/$

3 miles/$

6 miles/$

6 miles/$

December 15 – 18

Backcountry.com

5 miles/$

3 miles/$

10 miles/$

10 miles/$

December 15 – 18

It’s important to note that the free shipping offers aren’t automatic and across the board. Some require a minimum purchase while others require you to add a coupon code at checkout. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for the individual merchant so you know what to expect when it comes to earning United miles!

BOPUIS

The third category covers BOPUIS, which stands for “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store.” As we get further and further into December, many sites start posting cutoff dates to receive gift before Christmas via standard shipping, and picking up an item in the store is an easy way to get around that. Here are the details for the merchants in this category:

Retailer

Usual bonus (cardholder)

Usual bonus (non-cardholder)

Elevated bonus (cardholder)

Elevated bonus (non-cardholder)

Applicable dates

Neiman Marcus

5 miles/$

3 miles/$

10 miles/$

10 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 19 – 20

Sears

3 miles/$

2 miles/$

6 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 22 – 24

Walmart

1 mile/$

1 mile/$

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 20 – 21

L.L. Bean

1 mile/$

1 mile/$

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 20 – 21

Jos. A. Bank

5 miles/$

3 miles/$

10 miles/$

10 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 20 – 21

Apple Store

1 mile/$

1 mile/$

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 20 – 21

Cabela’s

3 miles/$

2 miles/$

6 miles/$

6 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 20 – 21

While this category is geared towards picking up your item(s) in store, it does appear that all purchases should earn the higher bonuses. However, be sure to read the details for each store’s offer before you click through.

eGift Cards & Last Minute Gifts

The final category is fantastic for anyone on your list who’s typically hard to shop for. Many retailers restrict your ability to earn bonus miles through shopping portals when you purchase gift cards, but for a few days, select stores are lifting this restriction. These last wave is also great for procrastinators who need last-minute gifts! Here’s a break-down of the participating retailers:

Retailer

Usual bonus (cardholder)

Usual bonus (non-cardholder)

Elevated bonus (cardholder)

Elevated bonus (non-cardholder)

Applicable dates

Rosetta Stone

6 miles/$

4 miles/$

10 miles/$

10 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 22 – 24

Home Depot

2 miles/$

1 mile/$

4 miles/$

2 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 22 – 24

LivingSocial

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

4 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 16 – 18 and 22 – 24

Groupon

3 miles/$

2 miles/$

6 miles/$

6 miles/$

December 13 – 14 and 22 – 24

Restaurant.com

10 miles/$

6 miles/$

15 miles/$

15 miles/$

December 16 – 18 and 22 – 24

Gilt City

2 miles/$

1 mile/$

4 miles/$

3 miles/$

December 16 – 18 and 22 – 24

REI

2 miles/$

2 miles/$

4 miles/$

4 miles/$

December 16 – 18 and 22 – 24

Bergdorf Goodman

4 miles/$

3 miles/$

8 miles/$

8 miles/$

December 16 – 18 and 22 – 24

Example

Here’s an example of how this promotion can result in some significant earnings. Let’s say that you were planning a purchase at Neiman Marcus. MileagePlus Shopping usually offers you 3 miles per dollar spent at Neiman Marcus, but from December 13-14 and 19-20, this earning rate jumps to 10 miles per dollar spent. You decide to spend an even $1,000 and you use TPG’s recommended card for everyday non-bonus spending: the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.

Your earnings are thus:

$1,000 x 1 point per dollar spent = 1,000 Starpoints (worth $25 based on TPG’s valuations)
$1,000 x 10 miles per dollar spent = 10,000 MileagePlus miles (worth $150)

Total Rewards = $175

Total Return = 17.5%

That’s a decent return for your holiday shopping!

Maximizing with Gift Cards

While you typically can’t earn bonus points or miles through shopping portals by purchasing gift cards, I have been able to use retail gift cards to pay for the purchase and earn bonus points or miles.

A few retailers in the above table do have electronic gift cards (delivered via e-mail) on Staples.com, including Sears and Macy’s. You also may be able to find additional ones in an actual store, though you also have the option of purchasing them in grocery stores (with a card like the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card from American Express) or gas stations (with a card like the Citi ThankYou Premier Card).

Auf den Sitzen der 747-8 liegen ein Kissen, eine Decke und Lufthansa Kulturtaschen // A pillow, a blanket and Lufthansa amenity kits are lying on the seats of a 747-8
A valuable redemption (like Lufthansa’s new business class) is that much closer if you take advantage of this promotion!

Bottom Line

Everyone should be making online purchases through shopping portals as it is, but it’s great to see one airline offering an additional incentive to shop through its site. Even though United significantly devalued its program at the beginning of last year, there are still ways to get a solid value from redeeming MileagePlus miles. This holiday promotion can hopefully put you even closer to that dream trip!

Will you be taking advantage of these bonuses through MileagePlus Shopping?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.