From shopping portals to cash back: Your complete guide to maximizing Black Friday purchases
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. While I used to go to the stores in the wee morning hours before the turkey was even fully digested, I have transitioned to online shopping.
For years, retailers have extended Black Friday deals to a week or even for the entire month of November. Sure, the deals alone can save you a good amount of money, but knowing how to maximize your savings and points-earning along the way is equally important.
Here are some tips to make the most of your purchases.
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Use an online shopping portal
If you’re making any purchases online, my top tip is to make sure you go through an online shopping portal first. These portals will earn you extra points, miles or cash back for purchases you were going to make anyway. The best part is that you can decide which portal you want to use based on your preference for points, miles or cash back. In fact, many loyalty programs have exclusive portals, so you can even choose your favorite airline or credit card program.
For example, let’s say you were going to make a purchase on Macys.com. Instead of going directly to the Macy’s site, you’ll want to first go through one of the shopping sites below. Since every portal has a different payout, you can use a shopping portal aggregator like CashbackMonitor.com or Evreward.com to search for the store you want and quickly compare the current bonuses, since payouts change from day to day and vary between programs.
So, you might find one portal that pays 10% cash back while another is offering 3 bonus miles per dollar spent. Let’s say you’re making a $50 purchase: A site offering 10% cash back will put an extra $5 in your pocket, while an airline portal offering 3x miles will earn you an additional 150 miles. To find the best value, you can use TPG’s monthly valuation guide to see what your bonus miles are worth.
Many of these programs also offer Chrome extensions that will notify you when you visit a website that’s eligible for extra rewards and let you activate the bonus — whether it’s points, miles or cash back — without even clicking through the portal’s website.
One of the best payouts right now is on Rakuten. This site is offering a $30 bonus for all new members of the site after they spend $30 within 90 days of signing up. This could be far better than any bonus miles or cash back you’d earn with a different site.
Earn points and miles on your holiday purchases
If you want to earn points or miles for a future trip with a specific airline, hotel or even train, there are about a dozen loyalty programs that have their own shopping portal. You’ll need to register on your desired portal and link it to your loyalty account. Once you log in to your account, you can search for the store where you want to shop. From there, you’ll be directed to the store’s specific website and you can shop as you normally would. If you’re not logged in to the shopping portal and you don’t click through to the portal’s store link from there, you won’t earn any bonus points or miles that you might by going through the portal.
Here’s a list of airline and hotel (and even train!) loyalty program portals through which you can earn points and miles.
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue Shopping.
- Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping.
- American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping.
- Amtrak Guest Rewards Shopping.
- British Airways Shopping.
- Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Shopping.
- JetBlue TrueBlue Shopping.
- Spirit Airlines Shopping.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping.
- United MileagePlus Shopping.
- Wyndham Rewards Shopping.
Earn credit card points on your holiday purchases
Just like the aforementioned airline, hotel and train programs, there are a handful of banks that have their own shopping portals where you can earn extra points on your purchase. These will earn you points within the respective program, similar to those accrued from regular credit card spending. From there, you can redeem your points as you’d like — whether it’s for cash back, through the program’s travel site or by transferring to a partner program.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (the bonus points you see might differ depending on the Chase account you are signed into).
- Citi Bonus Cash Center.
- Barclaycard RewardsBoost.
- Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards.
Earn cash back on your holiday purchases
If you’d prefer cash in your pocket that can, in theory, reduce the purchase price of a specific item, you might prefer a cash-back shopping portal instead. Each portal will offer a different amount of cash back, so you’ll want to compare the sites. You’ll also find that some portals will pay you back quarterly, while others allow you to request your cash back more often.
Here are some of the most popular shopping portals to earn cash back on your online purchase:
- Rakuten (or you can opt to earn American Express Membership Reward points instead).
- Mr. Rebates.
Use Amex Offers
If you carry any American Express credit cards in your wallet, you can take advantage of Amex Offers. This includes both cobranded cards, such as the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, as well as cards that earn Membership Rewards points, such as the American Express® Gold Card.
You’ll need to log in to your Amex account online to see which specific offers you are eligible for since they vary from card to card. Make sure to add the offer to your card if you see any you like because they can disappear and some are only available for a limited time.
Some interesting Amex Offers available at the moment that can save you money or earn you additional points on your upcoming Black Friday shopping purchases include:
- Madewell: Spend $115 or more, get $15 back.
- Wayfair: Get 5 additional miles per eligible dollar spent, up to 5,000 miles.
- Under Armour: Spend $50 or more, get $10 back.
- Glossier.com: Spend $70 or more, get $20 back.
- Quip: Spend $40 or more, get $20 back.
- Levi's: Spend $150 or more, get $30 back.
- Shop Black-owned brands for the holidays: Spend $20 or more, get $15 back.
- Aveda: Spend $75 or more, get $15 back.
- GoPro: Spend $200 or more, get $40 back.
There are slightly different terms for every Amex Offer, so check the details of each promotion. Some offers require the minimum spending to be a single purchase, while others are for cumulative spending. Some offers are for purchases made online only or in-store only, so make sure to know which purchases will trigger the statement credit.
Above all, the best part of Amex Offers is that you can combine them with any other coupon you might find or a bonus from an online shopping portal, allowing you to double- or even triple-dip on your savings.
Try Chase Offers
Similar to Amex Offers, Chase also offers statement-credit opportunities when you use your registered credit card to make a purchase. You will need to log in to your Chase account either online or on the app to see which offers you are eligible for. (Note: Some accounts will show more offers than others, and some might not display any offers at all).
Depending on the card you carry, here are some that may be helpful for you this Black Friday season:
- J.Crew: 10% back.
- Zulily: 10% back.
- Shutterfly: 10% back.
- Kindle: 20% back.
- Dell: 5% back.
Know which credit card gets you the most points
When you’re spending a lot of money, it's important to choose the best credit card. Why earn 1% cash back when another card might reward you with a whopping 5% cash back (or more)? Here are some bonus earning opportunities you can reap by spending strategically with the right card at certain merchants.
Best cards for Amazon
- Discover it® Cash Back: Enroll to earn 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in cumulative spending on purchases for the quarter) at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com through Dec. 31, 2021. Plus, earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.*
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: Earn 5% cash back on Amazon purchases. Plus, earn 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.*
Best card for Target
- Target RedCard™: Receive an immediate 5% discount at Target.*
Best card for Walmart
- Chase Freedom Flex: 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in spending for the quarter) at Walmart and PayPal; must activate the offer by Dec. 14, 2021, for purchases through Dec. 31, 2021)
Best cards for wholesale clubs (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club)
- U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card: 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet spending.*
Best cards for department stores
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Earn up to 2% back on all purchases — 1% when you buy, plus 1% when you pay.
Best cards for office supply stores
Even if you aren’t gifting someone a new office chair, remember that many office supply stores sell third-party gift cards — like Amazon, Delta or Disney — that you might want to give someone on your holiday shopping list.
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card: 5% cash back (on up to $25,000 in combined spending in all 5% cash-back categories each card membership year).
* The information for the Discover it Cash Back, Amazon Visa Signature, Target RedCard and the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
With Black Friday nearly upon us, now is the time to put a shopping plan into action. Check the online shopping portals; add the Amex and Chase offers to your credit cards; use the cards that offer the most points, miles or cash back for your purchases; and note the cards that come with price and purchase protections.
By following these tips, you’re sure to save even more money on your Black Friday purchases. Happy shopping!
Additional reporting by Stella Shon.