Shopping Portals are a great way to earn extra points on your everyday purchases. Many airlines and hotels have them, as well as Chase Ultimate Rewards. American Express had one years ago but they did away with it. I mainly use Chase Ultimate Rewards because I like flexible points that can be transferred to airlines for miles or hotels for points, 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 an option, just about any other store can be found. There are hundreds. This includes Target, Sam’s, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Petsmart, and Sephora to name a few.
Bonus tip: Shopping portals are a great way to keep any miles you’ve already earned from expiring. Airlines have expiration policies in place that state your miles will expire without activity after a certain period of time. Every airline is different. It it’s usually 18-24 months. 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!
Here’s how it works:
- Log into 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:
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 fast. 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 all 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.
- Use Southwest’s portal and earn 3 bonus points per dollar. That’s 150 bonus points plus the 50 that I get from 1 point per dollar from using my credit card. This nets me 200 points. Not bad. But there’s an even better option:
- I could use the Chase UR shopping portal and get 5 bonus points per dollar plus 1 point for using my credit card. That’s 6 total points per dollar so 300 points on $50.
A few important things to know:
- Technically you are supposed to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, whichever you have, 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.
- I mostly use the Ultimate Rewards and Southwest Portals so I really can only speak to those 2. My points usually post within a week. The official terms do state that it can take 6-8 weeks though.
- Airline portals frequently offer a lump sum bonus after a minimum spend so be sure to watch for those offers. For example, you may get an extra 1,000 bonus points if you spend a total of $200 by a certain deadline. These deals usually run for a couple weeks. 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.
- The official terms state that if you use promo codes not found through the portal (see southwest Sephora portal pic above), 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.
- Points earned from Southwest’s shopping portal are companion pass-qualifying. I know I constantly talk about why you should try to earn flexible points such as Ultimate Rewards or AMEX points but if you’re wanting to earn the companion pass, it may be a good idea to mostly use the Southwest shopping portal. Remember that although you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest to redeem for flights, they will not count toward earning the Companion Pass.
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 Petsmart or Petco through a shopping portal not only saves me a trip to the store to buy 40 pound bags of food with 2 toddlers in tote, it also earns me anywhere from 3-5 points per dollar!
I have decided that I am going to do a part 4 about manufactured spending, but currently I do not really do this for a few reasons. First of all, it can be a little time consuming. Second, the strategies used to manufacture spending are constantly changing. Honestly, I just don’t have time to keep up with different policies. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Lastly, we are able to earn enough points and miles to do what we want to do each year from everything covered in parts 1-3. With that said, it could be worth it if you’re having trouble meeting the minimum spend for a sign-up bonus. In the future, if any easy methods that seem worth it come across my radar, I will always share them.