Earn bonuses with Alaska and United for shopping online, just in time for Mother’s Day
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, many of you may be thinking about presents for that special person in your life. And with the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, chances are you’ll be looking to make most of your gift purchases online rather than at a brick-and-mortar store.
Fortunately, this presents the opportunity to take home some extra rewards on your purchases, and a pair of U.S. airlines just announced bonus offers through their respective online shopping portals.
These bonuses aren’t the best we’ve ever seen, but every little bit can help as you look ahead to travel in 2021 and beyond. If you’re planning to make some online purchases in the next few weeks, you might as well take home some extra rewards. Let’s take a look at these offers.
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Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping
Alaska’s offer is very straight-forward, with two tiers (depending on how much you spend before the end of the promotional period).
- Earn 500 bonus miles when you spend $50 or more
- Earn 1,000 bonus miles when you spend $300 or more
The bonus you earn is based on the cumulative amount of spending you complete through the portal prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday May 12. And remember that these are in addition to any miles you earn directly with the merchant. However, you can only earn one of the tiers, so spending $350 won’t get you both the 500-mile and 1,000-mile bonuses.
Interestingly enough, the lower tier is actually more lucrative if you’re looking at the return on your spending. If you spend exactly $50, the 500 bonus miles would be worth an additional $9 in rewards based on TPG’s most recent valuations — an added return of 18%. However, the 1,000 bonus miles are worth $18, so on $300 in spending, that’s only an additional 6% back.
Nevertheless, either one of the bonuses is a nice added boost to your spending.
Remember that the usual exclusions apply. Qualifying purchases do not include returns, cancellations, shipping and handling, taxes, gift card or other cash equivalent purchases. In addition, certain products are not eligible, so be sure to read the terms and conditions of the individual merchant to make sure your purchase will qualify.
The full details are available at this link.
United MileagePlus Shopping
The second offer is available through United MileagePlus Shopping, and it’s a bit more complex than the Alaska one. It has three tiers, with slightly different amounts of bonus miles (as part of the MileagePlus program’s 40th anniversary celebration).
- Earn 140 bonus miles when you spend $40 or more.
- Earn 540 bonus miles when you spend $100 or more.
- Earn 1,040 bonus miles when you spend $300 or more.
Note that this offer has a slightly longer timeframe than Alaska’s, as it runs through May 17 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. It too is based on cumulative purchases made through the platform.
The three bonus amounts are worth $1.82, $7.02 and $13.52 based on TPG’s most recent valuations, giving you an additional return of 4.55%, 7.02% or 4.5% (respectively). And of course, these bonuses are in addition to the miles you’d earn with the specific merchant.
You’ll also face the same restrictions noted above. Your qualifying spending excludes shipping, taxes and any other fees associated with your purchase(s), and some items or categories aren’t eligible. As always, carefully review the terms for each individual merchant so you don’t miss out on the bonus miles.
For full details on this offer, visit this page.
How to maximize these offers
These new bonuses are decent, and with many readers shopping online right now (even as the coronavirus pandemic subsides), this represents a great option to earn bonus miles on purchases you were already planning to make — or you may want to grab something new if you can stack another discount or bonus from a program like Amex Offers.
For example, I currently have an Amex Offer for 1-800-FLOWERS on my Platinum Card® from American Express, allowing me to get $10 back if I spend $50 or more on eligible purchases. In addition, both Alaska (7x) and United (15x) are offering bonus miles for every dollar spent at 1800flowers.com. (Eligibility for this offer is limited. Enrollment is required in the Amex Offers section of your account before redeeming.)
As a result, I just picked up the first tier of the Alaska bonus by ordering flowers for my mom. I knew I needed to make sure the subtotal of my purchase was at least $50 to reach the spending threshold and earn 500 bonus miles. However, there’s an offer for a free vase on select bouquets right on Alaska’s shopping portal. As a result, I got her this double bouquet with a clear vase for a base price of $54.99. With taxes, fees and shipping, the total for the purchase came to to $75.84.
However, I’ll also take home the following:
- 76 Membership Rewards points (the base earning rate on the Amex Platinum), worth $1.52
- $10 off with the Amex Platinum offer
- 385 Alaska miles (7 miles per dollar spent x $54.99), worth $6.93
- 500 Alaska miles (from the above promotion), worth $9
- Terms apply
In other words, my total purchase of $75.84 will result in $27.45 worth of rewards and discounts, dropping my out-of-pocket costs down to $48.39. This represents an effective discount of more than 36%. And (most importantly) my mom in New York will get a nice bouquet of flowers delivered directly to her later this week.
If, on the other hand, you’re solely interested in earning American miles on these purchases, be sure to check the SimplyMiles platform for any applicable bonus offers. Since these are linked to your AAdvantage credit card, you should be able to stack them with these new promotions as well.
Note that by going through these portals, you’re also potentially giving up rewards through other portals — like Rakuten or Chase. Be sure to use an online tool like Cashback Monitor to compare earning rates and select the best option.
Use the right credit card
It’s critical to swipe the right credit card when making online purchases, so pay close attention to any bonus categories that might apply to the merchant at which you’re shopping. If there’s no additional bonus or discount potential, you’ll want to make sure you use a credit card that has high earning rates on non-bonus spending. Great options include cards like the following:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Read our guide to the best credit cards for everyday spending to see which cards will maximize your returns for online purchases.
Featured photo by filadendron/Getty Images.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with all currently available airline shopping portal promotions, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older offers below.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
- $250 Annual Fee
- Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
- Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
- Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
- Earn 2X miles on all other travel
- Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
- Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.