Maximizing shopping portals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
To help you score major discounts on holiday purchases during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite deals for flights, hotels and travel accessories. But finding the best offers is just one part of the equation. Today we're going to look at how you can use shopping portals to earn extra points, miles or cash back for purchases.
For the uninitiated, shopping portals are online hubs affiliated with loyalty programs that earn you rewards for shopping at various retailers. All you have to do is sign up for a program using your loyalty account number and click through to a retailer from the portal before making your purchase (rather than simply going to a store’s website directly). You can also simplify this process by downloading the Google Chrome browser extension for each portal, which will automatically notify you when a site you're shopping on is eligible for a points bonus.
Just about every major airline has a shopping portal, as well as several hotels and other travel brands. We've compiled a comprehensive list of shopping portals on this page, but some of the most popular ones are:
- Alaska: Mileage Plan Shopping
- American Airlines: AAdvantage eShopping
- Chase: Shop Through Chase
- Delta: Sky Miles Shopping
- JetBlue: ShopTrue
- Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping
- United: MileagePlus Shopping
As we mentioned, many of these programs offer Chrome extensions that will notify you when you visit a website that's eligible for extra rewards and let you activate the mileage bonus without even clicking through the portal's website. However, if you want to get the best bang for your buck, 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.
Let's look at an example of the rewards shopping portals could offer. We'll pretend we're making a purchase from Saks Fifth Avenue. Payouts may differ between different Chase accounts, but right now, Shop Through Chase is offering 10 points per dollar spent at Saks. So, based on TPG’s valuations of Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents each, we'd be getting a 20% return on top of whatever discounts the retailer is offering. And we'd get our regular earnings through our credit card as well.
Although most shopping portals only offer rewards for online purchases, there are a few programs that allow you to earn bonus points and miles for in-store shopping. For instance, Alaska's Mileage Plan Shopping is currently offering up to 1.5x miles per dollar spent in-store and 8x miles online at Macy's. Just as you need to log in to online portals and click through the portal’s store links, you must link your credit card to the portal and activate offers individually to earn rewards for in-store shopping.
If you want to maximize your purchases even further, be sure to check which Amex Offers and Chase Offers you are eligible for. These programs provide cardholders with discounts and other bonuses for making purchases with specific merchants. American Express' program is available on virtually any American Express card, including personal cards and business cards. Chase's program is currently only available for select consumer credit and debit cardholders.
You'll need to log in to your online accounts to see which offers you are eligible for (offers tend to vary by cardholder and credit card). Some Amex Offers that are currently available and can save you money on your upcoming Black Friday shopping purchases include:
- Bloomingdales: Spend $100+, receive a $20 statement credit
- Macy’s: Spend $100+, receive 1,500 Membership Rewards points
- Best Buy: Spend $300+, receive 3,000 Membership Rewards points
- J.Crew: Spend $75+, receive a $15 statement credit
- eBags: Spend $100+, receive a $20 statement credit
- Staples: Earn 2x Membership Rewards points
- Home Depot, Lowes: Spend $75+, receive a $10 statement credit
Picking the best credit card for your purchases
In addition to scoring the best deals and earning bonus points through shopping portals, you'll want to make sure you're using the card that will offer you the most points for your purchases and also cover you in the case of price drops, theft or damage. We've covered the best credit cards to use for Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases in depth, but basically, the best option depends on where you'll be doing the most spending and what type of protections you value the most.
If you'll be shopping in department stores, you'll want to use a card like the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants), which is offering 5% cash back at select U.S. department stores and when you use PayPal or Chase Pay this quarter, or 10% if paired with a full Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. If you're making a high-value purchase, you'll want to use a card like the American Express® Gold Card, which protects you if your purchase is damaged, lost or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
If you're new to the points and miles world and haven't picked up any travel-rewards credit cards yet, note that some issuers offer instant card numbers upon approval. So, fear not, you have time to reap rewards if you plan on going on a Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping spree and are new to the game.
There are several ways to double or even triple-dip your mileage earnings in the shopping rush. Using a loyalty program’s online shopping portal is one of the easiest. Although earning one or two additional points per dollar may seem insignificant on some purchases, they can add up in the long run and there isn't much additional legwork to get them if you download the right Chrome extensions. Besides increasing your points balances, using a shopping portal is also an easy way to keep your miles from expiring.