The Beginners Guide to Airline Shopping Portals

Jul 14, 2019

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If you’re new to the points and miles game, it’s easy to assume that the only way to earn points and increase your loyalty with an airline is to fly them frequently or carry their credit card. However, that’s a common misconception for beginners— there’s actually plenty of alternative ways to earn points, one of the most effortless being through online shopping portals.

Not only is this is a great way to boost your points on top of flying and earning through credit cards, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to double dip.

There are also shopping portals for hotels and credit cards that you can read more about here, but today we’re going to focus specifically on airline shopping portals.

In This Post

Fundamentals of Online Shopping Portals

To sum it up concisely, online shopping portals allow you to earn bonus points and miles at hundreds of online retailers just by doing business with them through the portal. This already sweet deal gets even sweeter when you use a credit card that lets you earn additional points for your spending. Hence, why shopping portals are such a game changer in the points and miles game and in my opinion, totally underrated by beginners.

Related: Maximizing Online Shopping Portals in 2019

You can earn anywhere from a few extra points on smaller purchases such as ordering photos through Walgreens or you can reap big rewards when you make major purchases like buying a new Macbook through the portal—the points add up either way.

A practical time to use the portal is when ordering everyday necessities, like contacts. You might not think about earning additional points through purchases like these, but if you were to order through 1-800-CONTACTS, you could earn 5 miles/$1 spent by going through the AAdvantage portal. Not only is it convenient, but it adds up and could ultimately lead you to your next vacation just by ordering something you need online and through the portal.

Say you’re spending $500/year on contacts, here’s what you could be earning:

Now you’ve racked up 3,500 bonus points just by saving yourself time and pre-ordering your contacts.

How To Use The Shopping Portals

Now that you’ve got a general understanding about the potential points you could earn through these portals, let’s talk about how to actually get and use said portals.

Step 1: Pick an airline 

All of the major carriers offer shopping portals, so there’s no issue there. However, it’s important to pick an airline that you’re most likely to fly and can easily access. Otherwise, what’s the point of earning United points if they don’t fly out of your base airport?

Step 2: Sign up for the airline’s loyalty program

In order to earn points, you have to have an account with the airline of your choice. It’s a super simple, but vital task to do before you start earning.

Step 3A: Download the Google extension

I’m going to assume you’re already using Google Chrome — because you definitely should be — since it will give you links to all the major airline shopping portal plug-ins. By downloading the plug-in, you will automatically be notified with a pop-up if a site you’re shopping on offers points. All you have to do is click “activate” — it’s as simple as that.

Note that British Airways doesn’t have a plug-in, but you can use American miles to book reward flights on British Airways. Thus, the AAdvantage eShopping is essentially the equivalent.

Step 3B: Shop through the link

If you’re being stubborn about downloading Google Chrome, then you can earn points by manually going through the list of which stores your preferred airline offers points at. This way is a bit more time consuming and may lead you to leaving the points behind all together, but if you’re not easily frustrated with clicking between tabs, then go for it!

Step 4: Book reward flights

Once you’ve accumulated enough points to book a reward flight, book the dang thing! Check to see if it’s a good redemption rate with tthe following formula:

 price of the ticket / airline points valuation = cents per mile

It’s always nice to get a good redemption, but if you’re short on cash, then it might make more sense to book with points regardless of the redemption value.

Tips and Reminders

This is a relatively straightforward process, but it’s also easy to miss a few steps the first couple of times using it. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  1. If using the plug-in, you must “activate” the points when alerted by the pop up. Otherwise you will miss out on the points completely, which would be a real shame because you were so close.
  2. If using the shopping portal site, you must click through the link on the site and then make a purchase from the page that pops up. Don’t navigate away and come back later as the bonus will no longer be activated.
  3. You must make sure that you have cookies enabled in your browser for the retailer’s site. This is what allows the portal to “track” your purchases and award bonuses accordingly.
  4. Only use promotions or promo codes found on the portal; if you use others, the purchase may become ineligible for bonus points/miles.

Bottom Line

Online shopping portals are an amazing tool that every type of traveler and online shopper should be taking full advantage of as it’s an effortless way to boost your points and miles balance. This is a great way to get into the points and miles game as it doesn’t require getting approved for a credit card. However, if you do have a credit card this is the perfect opportunity to fully maximize it.

Featured image courtesy of filadendron via Getty Images

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