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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.

Shopping portals are one of the essential elements of earning tons of points and milesTPG reader K1s23 wants to know how to maximize a hotel booking with a shopping portal…

Do Hilton stays booked through Ebates qualify for elite nights and earn points too?

TPG Reader K1s23

There’s an ever present debate over whether to book through an OTA like Hotels.com or directly with the hotel. While you can usually earn miles and enjoy loyalty program perks when booking an airline ticket through an OTA, the same doesn’t typically hold for hotels. But is there a way you might be able to save more cash (or earn extra miles) while booking a hotel though a shopping portal like Ebates without forgoing points and perks?

Yes, booking a hotel through a shopping portal should still qualify to earn elite nights and hotel points. This is because when clicking through a portal, like Ebates or the United shopping portal, it brings you directly to the hotel’s website and not a third party travel agency (i.e. Expedia or Priceline) that actually books rooms on your behalf. And when booking a stay directly through a hotel’s website, your visit should help with your elite status qualification and allow you to earn points on the stay.

In other words, as long as a shopping portal takes you directly to the hotel’s website to book, your stay should work like any other you booked directly with a hotel operator. Just be aware that if you do book through an OTA like Hotels.com or Expedia, your stay likely won’t count towards elite status, and you’ll walk away with no more hotel points than you started with.

Because of this, clicking through a shopping portal really is a no-brainer, since you’ll net whatever points and elite credits you would get for the actual stay at the hotel, the points earned from the purchase on your credit card and then the points, miles or cashback from the portal itself. That’s a solid triple dip and can add up to a serious return on the stay.

For instance, Ebates is currently offering 1% to 2% cashback on Hilton bookings, depending on your Hilton Honors elite status:

If you’d prefer to collect United miles, you can earn an extra mile per dollar spent on bookings at Marriott properties (though you might get a higher rate if you hold a United card like the United Explorer Card):

And American Airlines’ shopping portal is currently offering 5 miles per dollar (or a 7% return) on all IHG bookings:

These earning rates would be in addition to any bonus that the corresponding portal is offering, like this fall’s offer of 1,500 bonus United miles for utilizing its platform for an online purchase.

Of course, these rates many change over time, so I’d recommend using a website like Cashback Monitor to compare cashback, mile and points earning rates at different shopping portals when you’re ready to book.

Other ways to save while still earning elite credits and hotel points would be to use the Citi Prestige’s 4th night free program, although make sure to book over the phone since booking online qualifies as a prepaid rate through an OTA and won’t allow for elite status and point earning.

On the other hand, if you’re happy using an OTA, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card both earn 10x miles on stays booked and paid for at Hotels.com/Venture – which can be stacked with Hotels.com rewards program, effectively earning 20% back on your stay.

Thanks for the question, K1s23, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by The Points Guy staff.

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