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Increase your miles and points balances when you shop online
Many airlines and hotels award miles or points when you purchase through an online shopping portal. These shopping portals have retailers from which you probably are already making purchases. There are hundreds of retailers, including Target, Walmart, Sam’s, Sephora, and Macy’s. Shopping through a portal has no extra costs, so there’s no reason not to sign up. In most cases, you don’t even need to have the airline or hotel’s co-branded credit card. All it takes is an extra step when you make an online purchase.
If you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card, you can also shop via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to earn extra Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I mainly use Chase Ultimate Rewards because I like flexible points that can be transferred to airlines or hotels, but I have found that airlines tend to have a lot more stores. Even if the store you need is not available on UR, be sure to check your airline of choice because there is still a chance the airline portal will have it. Although Amazon is not currently an option on any portal, just about any other online retailer can be found.
Amex does not have a portal like Chase, but if you have an Amex Membership Rewards earning card, you can earn Amex Membership Rewards points with Rakuten. The way Rakuten works is similar to the way shopping portals work. In fact, it’s a little easier if you install the extension on a Chrome browser. Click here for more info on how to use Rakuten to earn more Amex points.
Tip: Shopping portals are a great way to keep any miles you’ve already earned from expiring. Some airlines have expiration policies in place that state your miles will expire without activity after a certain period of time. If you have miles with an airline that are close to expiring, make a purchase through the airline’s shopping portal. No matter how small the purchase, it will reset your miles expiration date!
Related post: Keep your airline miles and points from expiring
Earn your first 80,000 points!
There’s no better time than the holidays to earn lucrative travel credit card rewards! Minimum spending requirements are easier to meet since we all tend to increase our spending around the holidays. Once you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card, you can earn even more points by shopping online through the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
Current offer: Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, earn $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
No matter what your travel goals are, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the first card I suggest for almost anyone. The welcome bonus of 80,000 is worth $1000 towards travel if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. But you can potentially get even more value out of those points by using transfer partners. This card also earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining spend.
Here’s how it works:
- Log in to your shopping portal of choice
- Choose the store
- Complete a purchase the exact same way you normally would
- Earn points. Lots of them.
Bookmark the portals you are most likely to use for easy access:
How many bonus points does shopping through a portal yield?
The amount of bonus points you earn depends on the store. It can be anywhere from 1-30 bonus points per dollar. Portals tend to update their earn rates very frequently. One month a store may give 5 points per dollar, and the next month it may be only 2.
These points add up very quickly. Even if you’re only earning 1 bonus point per dollar, you still get the point per dollar for using your card. This means you’re getting a total of at least 2 points per dollar. I use portals for everything I possibly can. Along with the convenience of online shopping, I’m earning more than I would if I were to go to the store.
Here is an example of how this adds up:
I buy most of my makeup at Sephora. Let’s say I need to buy $50 worth of makeup. I could:
- Go to the mall and buy it and use one of my credit cards to pay. This would net me 50 points since I’m not aware of any cards where Sephora is a bonus category.
- I could use the Chase UR shopping portal and get 3 bonus points per dollar plus 1 point for using my credit card. That’s 4 total points per dollar which is 200 points on $50.
3. Use Southwest’s portal and earn 4 bonus points per dollar. That’s 200 Southwest Rapid Rewards points plus the 50 that I get from 1 point per dollar from using whichever credit card I choose. This nets me 250 points.
Other airline portals may offer more or less points per dollar. The best portal for you really just depends on which miles and points you’re trying to earn.
Important: Southwest points earned from purchases made through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal do qualify for the Companion Pass. Note that any CP qualifying points earned in 2020 reset January 1, so keep that in mind. Timing is important if you’re trying to earn a Companion Pass. Click here for more information about earning a Southwest Companion Pass. Remember that although you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest to redeem for flights, they will not count toward earning the Companion Pass. So if you’re trying to qualify, you should use the Southwest portal.
A few important things to know about shopping portals:
- If you’re shopping through an airline or hotel portal, you do not have to use their co-branded credit card. In other words, you can use a Southwest co-branded card to make a purchase via the American Airlines portal. You’ll earn points on your Southwest card the same way you would if you were making a regular purchase. You’ll also earn the amount of American Airlines miles per dollar specified for the given retailer.
- Technically you are supposed to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card for your purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal, but there are many reports of people getting miles and points while using other cards to pay. I personally would not try this, especially on a big purchase, because I wouldn’t want to risk not getting the points, but feel free to try.
- The official terms of most portals state that it can take 6-8 weeks for points or miles to post. I mostly use the Ultimate Rewards and Southwest Portals so I really can only speak to those 2, but my points usually post within a week.
- The official terms state that if you use promo codes not found through the portal, you may not get points. I have used promo codes and still received points a few times before, but do this at your own risk.
Watch for spending bonus offers
Airline portals frequently offer a lump sum bonus after a minimum spend so be sure to watch for those offers. These offers usually appear around the holidays. For example, in the past Southwest has offered an extra 500 points/miles for spending $100, an extra 1,000 points/miles if you spend $500, or an extra 3,000 points/miles if you spend $1,000.
I will sometimes take advantage of these offers for portals other than my 2 go-tos, especially if it’s for an airline that I plan to book an award ticket through in the near future.
We have 2 high maintenance dogs who we love very much. One is a 120 pound lab who requires lots of food and the other is a beagle with food allergies who needs special food. Buying their food at Petco through a shopping portal not only saves me a trip to the store to buy 40 pound bags of food, it also nets us 3-5 points per dollar!
Earn a good return on your holiday shopping 2 ways:
- Open a credit card with a high welcome bonus. Minimum spending requirements are easier to meet during the holidays when you’re likely to increase your spending anyway. Click here for a list of our current favorite offers.
- Use airline, hotel, or the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal for your purchases. Don’t forget about Rakuten if you have an Amex Membership Rewards earning card.
Our top pick: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current offer: Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
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