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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

While we generally focus on credit card welcome bonuses and bonus categories as the best ways to earn points and miles, there are endless opportunities to boost your earnings even more on items you were already planning to buy. TPG reader Beth wants to know if it matters which card she pays with when purchasing through a shopping portal …

Can I use a shopping portal from one program but pay with another? For example, use the AAdvantage shopping portal but pay with my Sapphire Reserve?

TPG READER BETH

Online shopping portals are one of the best ways to earn bonus miles on everyday purchases with thousands of online merchants. Most major airlines and hotel chains offer a shopping portal, and Chase even has its own version for Ultimate Rewards-earning cards. If you don’t want to bother with points and miles, there are also a number of cash-back portals like Ebates. This array of options allows you to pick what type of rewards you want to earn. Any time you’re shopping online, you should check a site like cashbackmonitor.com to compare earning rates across multiple portals.

The good news for Beth is that most programs don’t care which card you use to pay, and you can mix and match as you please. One day you can use a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited to earn a solid return on non-bonus spend, and then you can switch to a brand new card if you’re working on earning a sign-up bonus. These shopping portals earn their commission by directing you to the merchant where you make a purchase, so you would even earn bonus miles from the portal if you paid with a debit card (but please don’t).

Now, it’s worth pointing out that the Chase portal is technically an exception to this rule. When you log in to your Ultimate Rewards account and navigate to the shopping portal, you’ll be told that you need to use the Chase card to earn the bonus. but many people have successfully earned bonus miles even if paying with another card. Still, this is not how the program was designed to work, so be aware of this potential hiccup.

In addition, these portals can be a little glitchy, so I strongly suggest only clicking through to the store when you know what you want to buy and are ready to checkout (i.e. do your browsing first). It also helps to close out extra tabs and make sure you only have one browser window open at a time. Finally, be sure to read the exact terms of the given merchant, as certain types of purchases — mostly gift cards or other cash equivalents — are generally excluded from earning shopping portal bonuses.

Many airlines also offer dining rewards programs, which follow a similar concept as online shopping portals. The one major difference is that you have to link your card of choice online before going out to eat at an eligible restaurant. While you can only link each card to one program (so you can’t register your Chase Sapphire Reserve with American and United at the same time) you’re free to use any card you want with these portals, and there’s no requirement to stay within the same program.

Bottom Line

Shopping portals are a free and easy double-dip opportunity, and if you ever shop online, it’s an absolute no-brainer to use them. You’re free to use whatever payment method you want when shopping through these sites, giving you valuable flexibility in choosing the type of rewards you want to earn on the purchase.

Thanks for the question, Beth, 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 @alesha_macarosha via Twenty20

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.