5 Key Tips for Using Shopping Portals This Holiday Season

Nov 29, 2016

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Airline shopping portals are one of the premier ways to earn bonus points and miles for your purchases. And with the holiday gift-buying season well under way and with plenty of special deals to take advantage of, don’t forget that you can put yourself on track for your next redemption just by working through your shopping list.

Shopping portals offer you various incentives for purchasing through the respective third-party website. Are you a loyal Delta flyer? Perfect — you can buy Scruffy’s holiday gift from PetSmart and earn 3 SkyMiles for each dollar you spend. So that $115 dog bed and the top-of-the-line $80 treats you’ve been eyeing will net you 585 bonus SkyMiles — worth about $7 based on TPG’s most recent valuations. While that might not seem like much, these small amounts can add up in the long run — and if you’re making the purchase anyway, why not reward yourself with extra points and miles?

But before you go to your favorite airline’s shopping portal and click “Buy,” there are a few things to keep in mind. If you fail to follow all the terms that come with purchasing through an airline shopping portal, you could be left in the dark and without the bonus points or miles you were expecting. So before your next shopping portal purchase, make sure you follow these five tips:


1. Click Through to the Retailer Directly From the Portal

To make sure you get those bonus miles in your account, be diligent about placing your order from the direct link of the airline shopping portal. Once you’ve selected a retailer, click the link and make sure to not jump away from that link once you’re shopping. Especially when you have multiple tabs open in the same browser window, it’s easy to forget which is the direct portal link — be sure to take note! If you click away from that link or place your order from another window, you could miss out on bonus points and miles.

2. Be Careful Which Promo Codes You Use

Promo codes can be an enticing option — especially with the prospect of saving even more on your order. However, be careful of which promo codes you use on your purchase. To play it safe, only use those that you’ve found on the portal itself. If you use other codes not found on the portal, you run the risk of missing out — it’s best not to take that chance, unless the savings outweigh the value of the bonus points you’ll earn.

3. Consider Using Gift Cards

While it may not be the first thing to think about when doing your online shopping, using a gift card can earn you even more points and miles in return. For example, if you purchase a Walgreens gift card with your Chase Freedom Card (No longer open to new applicants), you’ll not only earn 5% cash back (or 5x points if you have an Ultimate Rewards-earning Chase card), but also the bonus 2 miles per dollar with the AAdvantage Shopping Portal. With the Freedom Card’s rotating bonus categories, you can take advantage of these kinds of offers all year long.


Keep in mind that while it may be a good idea to use your gift cards on purchases to maximize your earnings, gift card purchases through shopping portals are oftentimes not eligible for bonus points and miles.

4. Make Sure Your Cookies Are Enabled

On the back end of things, one of the most important parts of earning bonus points and miles for airline shopping portal purchases is making sure your cookies are enabled. Cookies allow the portal to track your purchases to make sure that you earn your bonus rewards. It’s easy to overlook this, so be sure to confirm that cookies are enabled before clicking through to a retailer from an airline shopping portal. A useful tool to make sure your cookies are enabled is the Cookie Checker.

5. Read the Fine Print

As always, reading the fine print is crucial when it comes to deciphering what’s included and what you should skip. When it comes to shopping portals, you need to pay attention to the details for each individual merchant you’re planning on shopping with. For example, many retailers and portals don’t allow you to earn bonus points and miles when you purchase a gift card — even if you make the purchase through the portal.


For example, if you’re planning on making a purchase with Nike through the United MileagePlus Shopping portal, note the exceptions. You won’t earn miles on Air Jordan products, flash sale items and purchases through the SNKR app, among a few other restrictions.

Bottom Line

Airline shopping portals are one of the greatest ways to earn bonus miles with your favorite airline without actually flying. And with the holiday shopping season upon us, now’s a great time to take advantage of all the bonus offers out there. However, before you head to a portal, there are some important things to keep in mind. So make sure you follow these simple steps to ensure you nab your bonus rewards.

Featured image courtesy of elenaleonova via Getty Images.


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