From shopping portals to cash back: Your complete guide to maximizing Black Friday purchases

Nov 23, 2020

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.


Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. While I used to go to the stores in the wee hours of the morning 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 longer, and the ongoing pandemic has solidified that trend. Sure, the deals alone can save you a good amount of money, but knowing how to maximize your savings and point earnings along the way is equally important. Here are five tips to make the most of your purchases.

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In This Post

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. 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 Evrewards.com to search for the store you want and quickly compare the current bonuses, since payouts change 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 extra 150 miles. You can use TPG’s monthly valuation guide to see what your bonus miles are worth to find the best value.

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 $40 bonus for all new members to the site after making their first purchase 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 on 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 into 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, you won’t earn any rewards.

Here’s a list of all the loyalty programs to earn points and miles.

Earn credit card points on your holiday purchases

Just like the aforementioned airline, hotel and train programs, there are a handful of banks that also have their own shopping portal where you can earn extra points on your purchase. These will earn you points within the respective program, similar to the points earned from regular credit card spend. From there, you can redeem your points as you’d like — whether it’s cash back, through the program’s travel site or transferring to a partner program.

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 the most popular shopping portals to earn cash back on your online purchase:

Use Amex Offers

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

If you have any American Express credit cards, 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 Reward points, such as the American Express® Gold Card.

You’ll need to log in to your online Amex account to see which offers you are eligible for. Make sure to add the offer to your card if you see any you like because they can disappear. Some popular Amex Offers that can save you money on your upcoming Black Friday shopping purchases include (amongst hundreds of others):

  • Zulily: Spend $75 or more, receive $15 statement credit
  • Vince: Spend $300 or more, receive a $75 statement credit
  • Madewell: Spend $100 or more, receive a $20 statement credit
  • Ray-Ban.com: Spend $150 or more, receive a $30 statement credit
  • Levi’s: Spend $125 or more, receive a $25 statement credit
  • Intermix: Spend $250 or more, receive a $50 statement credit
  • Simon Pearce: Spend $300 or more, receive a $90 statement credit
  • Kendra Scott: Spend $100 or more, receive a $20 statement credit
  • Club Monaco: Spend $200 or more, receive 4,000 Membership Reward points
  • Cole Haan: Earn 6 additional Membership Reward point per dollar spent, up to 10,000 points
  • Adidas: Earn 4 additional Membership Reward point per dollar spent, up to 5,000 points
  • Macy’s: Earn 1 additional Membership Reward point per dollar spent
  • NeimanMarcus.com: Earn 1 additional Membership Reward point per dollar spent
  • Bloomingdales.com: Earn 1 additional Membership Reward point per dollar spent
  • Gap.com: Earn 1 additional Membership Reward point per dollar spent
  • Dell.com: Earn 1 additional Membership Reward point per dollar spent

There are slightly different terms for every Amex Offer, so check the details of each promotion. Some offers require the minimum spend to be a single purchase while others are for cumulative spend. Some offers are for purchases made online only or in-store only, so make sure to know which purchases will trigger the statement credit. The best part of Amex Offers is that you can combine them with any other coupon you might find or bonus from an online shopping portal, allowing you to double or even triple dip 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. These offers aren’t necessarily as lucrative as Amex Offers, but every extra saving can help.

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 offers and some might not even display any offers).

(Photo courtesy of Chase.com)

Know which credit card gets you the most points

Using the best credit card is important when you’re spending a lot of money. Why earn 1% cash back when another card will give you a whopping 5% cash back (or more)?

Best cards for Amazon

  • Discover it Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in cumulative spend on purchases for the quarter at Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com after activating the offer). Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card: 3% cash back

Best card for Target

  • Discover it Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in cumulative spend on purchases for the quarter at Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com after activating the offer). Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Target REDcard™: Receive an immediate 5% discount

Best card for Walmart

  • Discover it Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in cumulative spend on purchases for the quarter at Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com after activating the offer). Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom (no longer available to new applicants): 5% cash back (up to $1,500 spend for the quarter at Walmart and PayPal; must activate the offer by Dec. 14, 2020)

Best cards for wholesale clubs (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club)

Best cards for department stores

Best cards at 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.

  • Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card: 5% cash back (up to $25,000 in combined spending with all 5% cash-back categories each card membership year)
  • Chase Ink Business Plus Credit Card: 5x points (up to $50,000 in combined spending with all 5x point categories each card membership year) *This card is no longer available to new applicants.
  • SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express: 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores (up to $50,000 in combined spending with all 5% cash-back categories each card membership year) *This card is no longer available to new applicants.

Use a card with price protection

Price protection is a great credit card benefit and, at times, can be more valuable than the points and miles you earn with the card. The number of cards that offer this benefit is definitely dwindling — American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Discover and Citi do not offer this benefit. There are, however, still a handful of cards that will provide you with this protection on your next purchase.

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday prices are typically very competitive, they are not always the best deals you’ll find, as prices can dip at various points during the holiday season. As long as you made the purchase with a card that comes with the price protection benefit, you might be able to get the difference back if the price drops within a set number of days. Keep in mind that all of the price protection benefits listed below are only for U.S.-issued cards for purchases made within the U.S.

Here are some of the more popular cards that carry the price protection benefit:

Capital One

If you have a Capital One Spark business credit card, you’re in luck, as price protection is still a benefit on these four cards. These cards include:

With this benefit, with only these Capital One cards, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item up to $2,500 per year. You have up to 60 days from when the purchase was made to file a claim. Just remember, the competitor’s price must be in a printed advertisement, as internet advertisements are excluded.

The information for the Capital One Spark Miles Select and Capital One Spark Cash Select has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

UBS Bank

Although the UBS Visa Infinite Credit Card isn’t talked about much, it’s one of the better cards when it comes to price protection. With this card, if you buy an eligible item with your card in the U.S. and see a printed advertisement at any retail store or from a non-auction online site for less within 90 days of the original purchase date, you may be able to file a claim and be refunded the difference up to $500 per item. This benefit is limited to $1,500 a year per account.

U.S. Bank

Only the U.S. Bank Cash 365 American Express Card is eligible for the price protection benefit — which it actually refers to as “Best Value Guarantee.” This card has the weakest benefits compared to all the other banks, as a lower price must be found within 30 days of the date of purchase. The caps are also lower than some of the other cards, as you’re only able to receive up to $250 back per item, up to $1,000 per year.

The information for the U.S. Bank Cash 365 American Express Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. 

Wells Fargo

The Wells Fargo Visa Signature® card also offers a price protection benefit as long as you find the item at a less expensive price within 60 days from when the purchase was made. With this benefit, you’ll be reimbursed the difference up to $250 per item and up to $1,000 per year.

The information for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. 

Bottom line

With Black Friday Week 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!

Featured image via Shutterstock.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.