Earn Points, Miles or Cash for Yourself While Shopping for Work
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Do you happen to be one of those people who makes a ton work-related purchases, but your company reaps all of the benefits because you're using a corporate card? Whether you're ordering office supplies or booking a hotel for your boss's next business trip, your company is collecting points on all of the purchases that you make for them. Well, what if I told you that you can earn points, miles or cash-back for yourself on purchases you make with a credit card that doesn't belong to you?
That's where the magic of online shopping portals comes into play. Using a shopping portal is one of the easiest ways to rack up extra points, miles or cash-back on online purchases. All you need to do is create an account with the loyalty program or cash-back portal of your choice, click through to your desired website and make a purchase as you typically would. By starting there instead of going to the merchant's website directly, you'll earn bonuses into your account. The best part is that it doesn't matter which credit card you use — it doesn't even need to be your own!
Let's take a look at the deals on Delta's shopping portal at the time of writing:
- Purchasing ink for the office? You can earn 5x miles on ink at 123inkjets.com.
- Need to send a gift to a client? Send a bouquet from ProFlowers and earn 6x miles.
- Making a hotel reservation for your boss? Book through Marriott and earn 4x miles or IHG for 2x miles.
- Looking for printing services? Staples Copy & Print offers 4x miles.
- Need basically anything else you could ever need? Order from Walmart and earn 1x mile.
Frequent purchases through the shopping portal can earn you some serious rewards. Just take it from Edward R., a sales associate for a small business in Washington, DC and long-time TPG reader. "Last year, I earned over 95k miles from the AA shopping portal, and I can safely assume it was over 90% business purchases," he told TPG. "A majority of purchases came from office electronics (I used Staples, Dell Home and Samsung Electronics America within the last 120 days). I also use general shopping sites for other supplies we need (Jet, Hayneedle, UnbeatableSale)."
If you stick with Edward's assumption that 90% of his earnings were from business-related purchases, he took home nearly $1,200 worth of American miles based on TPG's most recent valuations. If you're in a similar boat and can shop online for your work with a manager's or your company's credit card, you can take home some serious rewards.
Of course, the best way to take advantage of an online shopping portal is by pairing it with one of your own rewards credit cards. Book a stay at an IHG hotel (which offers 2 miles per dollar in the Delta portal) with your Chase Sapphire Reserve (which offers 3x points on travel). A $300 reservation will earn you 600 SkyMiles through the portal and 900 points from Chase. Now, you're earning points and miles from two different sources on one purchase! That's over $25 of total value based on TPG's valuations, nearly 10% back.
If you don't trust yourself to remember to go through the portal every time you need to make a purchase, there's a simple solution — the button! Many of these sites offer extensions that can easily be added to your preferred browser, including Delta, United, American Airlines and even cash-back sites like Ebates. Once installed, a notification will pop up on the top of your screen to notify you that the website you've opened offers a deal through the shopping portal.
For example, I recently visited Macys.com, and the button instantly popped up in the right-hand corner to notify me that I could earn 4 miles for every dollar I spent. All I had to do then was click "Activate" to earn extra miles on my purchase. Just be sure to stay within that window or you won't earn your miles.
Don't let the fun stop with business purchases. Have any family members that don't collect airline miles or can't be bothered to utilize these portals? Well, don't let them leave any points, miles or cash-back on the table — they could be yours! Install the button on your mom's computer and tell her to click the activate button whenever it pops up. Simple enough, right? Now you'll earn miles every time she decides to order that new thing she saw on HSN that she just had to have. You can make earning miles a family affair. Just be sure to take them somewhere special with all of your rewards!
One final tip: consider using a shopping portal aggregator if you're open to collecting points and miles in multiple loyalty programs. These sites allow you to quickly compare earning rates across the major categories of shopping portals (cash-back, airlines, hotels and credit cards). Before long, you'll be booking your next award trip to a far-flung destination, all made possible by the wondrous tool known as the online shopping portal!
(Just don't let your boss in on the secret.)