Maximizing Points and Miles For Valentine’s Day Gifts
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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it’s time to get something special for the loved ones in your life. Though you might be caught up in the romance of it all, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be maximizing your miles on gift purchases. After all, the only thing better than getting a box of chocolates is knowing that you earned hundreds/thousands of points on it!
Here are some of the best rebates and bonuses for your Valentine’s Day purchases this year.
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 to offer loyalty program members multiple points or miles per dollar they spend there. This is great for Valentine’s Day because many flower retailers have great limited-time deals where you can earn over 20 points or miles per dollar, which I will outline in more detail towards the end of the post.
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 Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express 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
Alaska: Mileage Plan Shopping
Amtrak: Amtrak Guest Rewards
British Airways: BA Miles Estore
Chase: Ultimate Rewards Shopping
Choice Rewards: Choice Privileges Mall
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 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 three sites that offer cash back rebates when you click through to a merchant from them.
The first is Big Crumbs, the second is Ebates, and finally, there is Top Cash Back. All three regularly offer cash back bonuses of anywhere from 1-10% back on purchases at major retailers as well sometimes having deals on things like Amex gift cards.
If you’re interested in going this route instead, here are some quick instructions for you:
1. Create a BigCrumbs, Ebates or Top Cash Back 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.
For instance, right now, Big Crumbs is offering up to 40% off of Valentine’s orders and other specials from 1-800-Flowers.
VALENTINE’S DAY BONUSES BY MERCHANT
Now that you’ve got the general shopping portals information, I’d like to run through some specific vendors that are offering decent for Valentine’s Day gift.
FTD.com is a great flowers and gifts (chocolates, jewelry) clearing house that has tons of choices in a lot of different price ranges, and it has made some aggressive deals with shopping portals that put spending bonuses in the range of 10-35 miles or points per dollar at many of them.
Here are the current bonuses:
American Airlines: 30 miles per dollar
Delta: 35 miles per dollar
Hilton HHonors: 15 points per dollar
JetBlue: 20 points per dollar
Marriott Rewards: 15 points per dollar
United: 30 miles per dollar
Ultimate Rewards: 10 points per dollar
Although 10 points per dollar is the lowest we see here, the versatility of Ultimate Rewards points means that this would probably be the offer I take advantage of if I choose FTD.com for my Valentine’s Day purchases. Not only can you transfer them to British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic and United (if you are going to transfer to United, better to get the 30 miles per dollar), as well as Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Amtrak, but you can also 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 12.5% return on your spending.
Another big seller around this time of year, 1-800-FLOWERS also offers some larger-than-usual spending bonuses. According to Statistic Brain, the average number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day is 196 million. So get in on the fun and order some flowers (and earn some miles as you do so).
And American Express is also offering Platinum cardholders the following special on 1-800-Flowers orders:
Where you can get a one-time $15 statement credit by spending $50 or more online at 1800flowers.com before February 28, 2014.
If you want to send chocolate, Godiva is among the best choices for your sweet tooth of a sweetheart. Several portals are offering deals below:
American Airlines: 3 miles per dollar
Amtrak: 5 points per dollar
Delta SkyMiles: 2 miles per dollar
Hawaiian Airlines: 3.5 miles per dollar
Hilton HHonors: 5 points per dollar
Marriott Rewards: 4 points per dollar
Southwest: 6 points per dollar
Ultimate Rewards: 3 points per dollar
US Airways: 2 miles per dollar
United Airlines: 2 miles per dollar
Instead of just one gift, get a whole basket of gifts!
American Airlines: 4 miles per dollar
Amtrak: 7 points per dollar
Delta SkyMiles: 3 miles per dollar
Frontier Airlines: 5 miles per dollar
Hawaiian Airlines: 9 miles per dollar
Hilton HHonors: 7 points per dollar
Southwest: 4 points per dollar
If you want a bit more variety than just the typical flowers and chocolate, at Neiman Marcus you’ve got a large selection of other items. Jewelry and designer handbags are perfect for the ladies in your life, and of course ties and wallets are also great Valentine’s Day gifts for men, who may be less-than-impressed if you hand them a bouquet of flowers.
American Airlines: 5.0 miles per dollar
Delta SkyMiles: 3.0 skymiles per dollar
Hilton HHonors: 5.0 points per dollar
Marriott Rewards: 3.0 points per dollar
Southwest: 4.0 points per dollar
US Airways: 3.0 miles per dollar
United Airlines: 3.0 miles per dollar
It’s also a good idea to simply check the portals themselves for special Valentine’s Day deals, as many of them are offering special bonus and items through February 14th that might not be reflected on EVReward.
American AAdvantage eShopping
American is offering a special promotion through February 14, 2014 where you can earn a up to a 1,500-mile bonus. On the AAdvantage eShopping portal if you spend $150 collectively on purchases you earn a 500 mile bonus, $300 collectively you earn a 1,000 mile bonus or $450 collectively you earn a 1,500-mile bonus. No registration necessary.
Keep in mind that most of the below deals expire a few days before Valentine’s Day so take advantage and get an early start on shopping.
Fragrancenet.com: 3 miles per dollar
FTD.com: 30 miles per dollar
WJSWine: 7 miles per dollar
Macy’s: 3 miles per dollar
Vera Bradley: 3 miles per dollar
Delta has a special section with Valentine’s Day offers on its shopping portal.
Cherry Moon Farms: 6 miles per dollar
FTD.com: 35 miles per dollar
Pro Flowers: 12 miles per dollar
Send Flowers: 7 miles per dollar
Sephora: 3 miles per dollar
Shari’s Berries: 12 miles per dollar
Southwest has a large selection of Valentine’s Day offers to choose from.
Cherry Moon Farms: 7 points per dollar
David Yurman: 4 points per dollar
Godiva: 6 points per dollar
Sak’s Fifth Avenue: 3 points per dollar
See’s Candies: 3 points per dollar
Shari’s Berries: 7 points per dollar
Tory Burch: 3 points per dollar
United is offering double points on select Valentine’s Day gifts.
Elizabeth Arden: 4 miles per dollar
Gordons Jewelers: 2 miles per dollar
Kay Jewlers: 2 miles per dollar
Lancome: 3 miles per dollar
Macy’s.com: 4 miles per dollar
MyJewelrybox.com: 4 miles per dollar
Spafinder Wellness: 2 miles per dollar
So it’s always a good idea to go directly to your shopping portal of choice and see what specials are being advertised on the homepage, as well as searching for the particular merchant you’re interested in to see what spending bonuses might be available before making your purchase.
Chase’s online shopping portal is one of the best out there, and as I mentioned, even if the bonuses are sometimes lower than on other sites, I still shop here thanks to the versatility of Ultimate Rewards points. Here are a couple current deals.
Blue Nile: 5 points per dollar and up to 25% off.
Harry & David: 4 points per dollar.
Pro Flowers: 15 points per dollar and 20% off on orders of $39.99 or more.
Red Envelope: 10 points per dollar.
Shari’s Berries: 15 points per dollar and up to 20% off gourmet dipped strawberries.
Wine.com: 7 points per dollar and 5% off sitewide.
Just take note of when these offers expire – don’t procrastinate on your shopping!
If you’re planning a romantic evening getwaway, don’t forget that, Rocketmiles is offering a Valentine’s special where, when you book a hotel over Valentine’s Day via Rocketmiles, the Rocketmiles concierge will arrange a little something special for you and your loved one. According to Rocketmiles, “It could be flowers, wine, chocolate, garlic fries, live mariachi, or some other surprise – just leave it to us and enjoy the special night”. Only valid for stays within the USA.
Happy Valentine’s Day from the TPG team!