Travel Tuesday Top 10: Holiday Shopping Bonuses
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
As I wrote yesterday, shopping online can be a really lucrative way to augment your points balances thanks to online shopping portals, credit card bonuses and more. Though I have a feeling that the big bonuses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still to come, many online retailers and the shopping portals of various airline, hotel and credit cards rewards programs are already offering great bonuses at some of your favorite merchants. I'll be keeping tabs on these all week for you, though, and will let you know if any other lucrative offers come up.
In the meantime, here are ten of the best so far - it's a mix of both the earning rate (how many points you earn per dollar, or point bonuses you earn based on how much you purchase) as well as the broad appeal of stores. So for instance, although you can get 15 points per dollar you spend at Shari's Berries on delicious things like cake pops and fruit baskets, I'm including merchants like the GAP, where more of us shop, even though the per-dollar rate is 10 points.
As always, if any of you come across some truly great deals, please let me know in the comments below.
1. 10-15 Ultimate Rewards Points Per Dollar at Kohl's: This department store carries everything from apparel and shoes to home goods and perfume, so chances are you'll find plenty of gift ideas here. Not only is Kohl's offering Chase cardholders who earn Ultimate Rewards points on the Sapphire, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold and Plus, and Freedom cards 10 points per dollar, but also remember that Kohl's is one of the Freedom card's fourth quarter bonus spending merchants, so you earn an additional 5 points per dollar here (up to the $1,500 max) for a potential total of 15 points per dollar. If you were to spend the Freedom's whole $1,500 bonus limit here, you'd be earning a whopping 22,500 Ultimate Rewards points. Plus save 20% when you enter the coupon code CYBER20 during checkout and get free shipping. Also November 21-25, you can get $15 in Kohl’s cash for every $50 you spend in store, online and at the kiosk. The coupon will be sent to you via email.
2. 15 points per dollar at Shoes.com with US Airways: Carrying everything from boots and loafers to sandals and stilettos, Shoes.com is a huge online emporium of all things footwear-related. The usual per-dollar bonus is 5 miles, but right now, US Airways is offering 15 miles per dollar spent on the site, and you can also get 15% off your order by entering the promo code 15OFF at checkout.
3. 10 Points Per Dollar at NorthFace on United: Heading to colder climes this winter? Wherever you're off to, you can get 10 points per dollar at NorthFace through the United Shopping portal plus free shipping on orders of $50 or more for members of its VIPEAK loyalty program, which is free to join.
4. 12 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at 1-800-Baskets: This site is a handy way to keep track of Ultimate Rewards portal bonuses and which Chase credit card has the best bonus offers (it can vary by card), including this one for 12 points per dollar you spend at 1-800-Baskets.com. You can also stack this bonus with other offers like same-day delivery, saving $10 on baskets $49.99 or more, and saving 15% on “Tasty Gift Ideas for All Occasions” baskets. In this same vein, you can also earn 12 points per dollar at FTD.com, 10 points per dollar at ProFlowers and TeleFlora and 9 points per dollar at 1-800-Flowers.com through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
5. 10 points per dollar at Choice Privileges Mall for eBags.com: eBags.com sells everything from designer handbags to backpacks and messenger bags, briefcases and laptop cases to luggage, iPad cases and wallets, so whatever your baggage, chances are it has something you need, and this promotional rate of 10 points per dollar is a great way to rack up Choice Rewards points (Comfort Inn, Quality, Clarion, etc.) quickly. The site also has an ongoing 25% off holiday sale and free shipping on orders of $99 or over. If Choice Rewards aren't your thing, you can also earn 9 points per dollar with Amtrak or 8 points per dollar at Priority Club.
6. 10% Cash Back at Bloomingdale's Through ShopDiscover: 10% back is a great deal, but but this offer earns place #6 on the list because it's simply a cash-back offer rather than points, but you'd be hard-pressed to find too many points redemptions where you could regularly get more than 10 cents per point in value, so this is definitely a great deal. Plus, Bloomingdale's is one of the best places on the web to shop for everything the famous department store sells. Not only that, but new ShopDiscover members who sign up their card with the site will earn an additional 5% cash back on department store purchases up to $1,500 now through December, bringing you even more potential savings. There are also tons of other concurrent offers including $25 when you spend $200 or more, 25-50% off home goods, and free shipping on various items. Find them all here.
7. Shop Gap for 10 Aeroplan eStore miles per dollar: While most airlines and Ultimate Rewards are offering a paltry 2-3 points per dollar at this popular outfitter, Air Canada's Aeroplan mileage program is offering a whopping 10 miles per Canadian dollar to shop at the Gap this holiday season, plus free shipping and returns on orders of $50 or more.
8. Earn 9 Ultimate Rewards points at Brookstone: Get your favorite gadget geek all kinds of interesting things this holiday season at Brookstone, and earn up to 9 points per dollar you spend. That'll make that massage chair even more enjoyable. Of course, not everyone has an Ultimate Rewards-earning card from Chase or so you can also earn 6 Citi ThankYou points per dollar, 7 Marriott Rewards points, or 6 points at either Hawaiian Airlines, US Airways or Priority Club for Brookstone purchases.
9. Fixed Bonuses of 850-1,500 points with Verizon: Verizon Wireless is offering varying amounts of points for purchases made through shopping portals this holiday season. They range from 850 US Airways or Delta miles to 1,100 Southwest points, 1,200 United miles, 1,300 American Airlines miles and up to 1,500 Priority Club points. Just note, you can't get these bonuses simply by buying a cheap headset - they are for purchases of new phones or devices and/or service plans. Still, if you're in the market for a new phone or carrier, or you are signing up family members for new plans, might as well score a few extra thousand miles or points in the process. Check your program of choice's individual shopping portal for the specific bonus.
10. General shopping bonuses: In addition to merchant-specific, spending-based bonuses, many online shopping portals are offering thousands of bonus miles for all the purchases you make this holiday season. For instance, now through December 31, 2012, you can earn 2,500 bonus United miles when purchasing though MileagePlus Shopping. Every time you spend $250 at select retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Williams-Sonoma and QVC, you'll get 500 bonus miles, up to 2,500 max. US Airways is offering a similar promo where you earn 300 bonus points for spending $150, 500 for spending $250, and 1,000 for spending $500. Though not a fixed bonus, now through December 20, 2012, the Aeroplan eStore is offering bonuses of up to 5x miles when you shop through its online portal this holiday season. The general offer is for 4x miles on all purchases through the eStore, but if you are an Aeroplan Facebook fan and register online before shopping, you’ll earn up to 5x miles on purchases of $25 or more when you shop at 4 eStore retailers (you earn smaller bonuses if you shop at fewer).
As a reminder here's the list to the shopping portal sites:
Air Canada: Aeroplan EStore
American Express: Bonus Points Mall (Currently under maintenance)
Amtrak: Amtrak Guest Rewards
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 Earnings Mall
Marriott Rewards: Shop My Way
Mastercard: Mastercard Marketplace
Priority Club: Priority Club Shopping
Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping
US Airways: Dividend Miles Shopping Mall