Skip to content

Quick Points: Earning points, miles and cash back on in-store purchases

July 29, 2022
6 min read
Person Tapping to Pay with Credit Card
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

You've likely seen us talk about all of the ways to "double dip" — or even "triple dip" — when making online purchases. You can earn the points from your credit card, a shopping portal and an app. These combinations are a great way to rack up points and miles.

But what if you're shopping in person? Can you still earn extra points and miles when you aren't in front of a computer, using a shopping portal? Luckily, the answer is "yes."

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

United MileagePlus X app

(Screenshot from MileagePlus X)

As the name suggests, you can earn United Airlines miles with the MileagePlus X app.

Prior to making an in-store purchase, you can purchase a gift card for that merchant via the app. This applies even if you don't pay with a United credit card — as long as the card is listed as a payment method inside your MileagePlus X app. But if you have a United cobranded credit card, you'll earn 25% more miles on top of the standard earnings. You'll earn this bonus even if you pay with a different credit card.

As gift card transactions process quickly, I normally walk up to the cash register and type in the exact charge, to the penny, in the app. Thus, you can earn a bonus multiplier from the app (up to 8 miles per dollar) and then use the best credit card for that spending category to earn extra points this way.

In the screenshot above, you could earn 5 United miles per dollar on purchases at Domino's. If you pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll earn an additional 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. And remember that at most merchants, you can pay the exact amount you need for your purchase, rather than buying set amounts with traditional gift cards.

Related: Here’s why it matters which card you use to pay in the United MPX app

Use shopping portals with in-store purchases

While they're usually called "online shopping portals," some of these portals work with in-store purchases. If the portal doesn't specifically say it works with in-person shopping, your luck can be hit or miss. However, some of these portals specifically highlight the ability to shop in person and still earn bonus points and miles — including new-user bonuses.

Two portals that regularly offer bonuses and allow you to achieve them with in-store shopping are the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan shopping portal and United MileagePlus Shopping.

You may also earn on purchases you pick up in-store. Read the terms and conditions of each merchant to ensure this applies.

Related: Earn more miles with new shopping portal bonuses from these airlines

Earn miles and Loyalty Points with SimplyMiles

You can earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points with SimplyMiles. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Similar to the above options, SimplyMiles offers bonus miles on purchases after adding offers to your account. These can be used online and in person. However, you must use a Mastercard to participate in these offers. As long as you pay with the card linked to the offer in your account, you will qualify for the bonus earnings.

All offers come in the form of bonus American Airlines AAdvantage miles. On top of the bonus miles, you can also earn bonus Loyalty Points, which is great news for anyone chasing AAdvantage elite status.

Related: Chasing American Airlines elite status? Here are 14 ways to earn Loyalty Points

Earn cash back with Dosh

(Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

Dosh takes a different approach from the options mentioned above. Rather than earning bonus points or miles, you will earn cash back. Once you accrue at least $25 in earnings, you can cash out via PayPal or Venmo.

In order to earn cash back with Dosh, link a credit card to the app and then use that card to pay at participating merchants. Transactions will track automatically and issue any rewards for which you qualify. Our tests have shown that you can earn Dosh dollars on top of rewards through other programs, meaning you can stack these offers with things like dining programs.

Related: Can I earn points and miles from 2 dining rewards programs at the same time?

Earn gift cards or crypto with Drop

Drop is another app in which you can link your credit cards and qualify for earnings automatically at participating merchants. Unlike Dosh, however, you cannot cash out your earnings into your bank account. Drop rewards are worth 0.1 cents apiece and can be cashed out for gift cards to popular merchants like Amazon, Starbucks and Uber, or can be cashed out for crypto.

Related: Interested in earning crypto on your credit cards? Here’s what you need to know

Bottom line

Whenever possible, you should avoid earning just 1 point per dollar on your purchases. By using shopping portals, our guide to the best credit card to use in each spending category and the apps available for in-store purchases, you can stack rewards on each dollar that you spend. Luckily, a few minutes of pre-shopping research is all you need to use select online portals with in-store purchases.

With phone apps, it's even easier. Just find the merchant you're currently shopping with and see if it participates in any of the programs you use. If you pay with a card linked to your account, apps like Dosh and Drop will track qualifying purchases automatically. With the MileagePlus X app, you'll need to purchase a gift card for the merchant and pay with that. Luckily, the gift card will show as a barcode on your phone, which the cashier should be able to scan easily.

An extra minute of work while you're waiting in line can lead to thousands of extra points each year.

Featured image by JACOB LUND/SHUTTERSTOCK
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases