As credit card loyalty programs become increasingly lucrative, credit cards have become a fantastic way to get rewarded for every purchase you make. Banks and credit card issuers are offering massive sign on bonuses and high earning reward programs to convince you to switch to their cards. In fact, the average US shopper can earn $600 on average in credit card rewards each year, meaning that your next flight or hotel stay could be free - just by using the right cards on the purchases you already make.
When most people think of earning points, miles or cash back on their cards, they immediately think of in-store purchases such as gas stations, supermarkets, department stores and restaurants, or travel, such as booking a flight with Delta or American Airlines. And while earning bonuses on in-store purchases can be great with offers up to 5% cash back or 5x points per dollar spent, there’s actually a better and less known way of earning up to 15% back on purchases.
What is a shopping portal?
Shopping portals are websites offered by loyalty programs that feature hundreds or sometimes thousands of e-commerce retail partners where loyalty members are incentivized to shop and earn big bonuses on spending. In return, the retailer sees increased traffic and higher conversion rates while the shopping portal receives an affiliate fee (usually in the form of commission) when you make a purchase through their site. And to sweeten the deal, you earn these rewards on top of the rewards you earn on the cards you pay with.
So how good does it get?
Although stores and earning rates change frequently, it isn’t difficult to get an extra 3%-5% cash back on your purchases with the stores you had already planned on shopping at. If the timing is right, you can earn more than 15% cash back on your purchases!
Here’s how it works:
When you’re ready to shop, just visit the shopping portal of any of the major loyalty programs that you’re a part of. A list of all of them is included at the end of this article for easy reference. I shopped through Delta’s shopping portal last month, but on all of the sites you can sort the stores by earn rate and get a list of stores where you can easily earn anywhere from 5% - 10% back in rewards. For example – Saks.com earns 4 miles/$ and New Balance earns 3 miles/$.
Last month, Delta was offering 6 miles for every $1 spent at Nike.com if you shopped through the Delta SkyMiles shopping portal. The timing was right where I needed a new pair of running shoes and I ended up earning 15% back in rewards with this purchase.
I already earn 1 mile/$ with my Gold Delta American Express card, so anything earned on these portals is an added bonus. At Birch, we estimate that Delta Miles are easily redeemable for anywhere from 1.2 cents to 3 cents through Delta.com. You can even get this as high as 5.5 cents for each mile redeemed if you fly business class!
With my Nike.com purchases, I’m now earning 6 miles/$ plus an additional 1 mile/$ by using my Gold Delta Card. That’s 7 miles/$ on this Nike.com purchase, and all I had to do was click a button to shop through the shopping portal.
The shoes retail for $74.99
- Shopping portal gives me: 6 miles * $75 = 450 miles - Gold Delta card gives me: 1 mile * $75 = 75 miles
In total, I earn 525 miles, worth $11.55. That’s 15.4% back in Delta miles!
When it’s time to redeem the miles you’ve accumulated over time, I recommend waiting and shopping for the best value. I recently had to fly from Fort Lauderdale, FL to NYC for a business trip. If I would have to had to pay out of pocket for this flight, it would have cost me $282.40.
Instead, I used my miles to pay for this flight, and it was only 10,000 miles for the same seat!
$282.40/10,000 is .028 cents per mile when redeeming for this flight! That means that on my Nike.com purchase, I actually earned $14.83 worth of rewards, or 19.8% back! That’s a pretty hefty savings.
What to look out for
Shopping through online portals is not always the best way to save nor is it the highest value you can get. The bonuses cannot be combined with other discount or coupon codes, meaning that if Nike.com was offering a 40% promo code, you would only get to choose one – and that choice is obvious. Only use the loyalty program’s shopping portal if that retailer isn’t offering any promo codes or the items your purchases aren’t eligible for any other discounts.
Loyalty Programs that offer Shopping Portals
Barclaycard Rewards Boost Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall Air Canada Aeroplan eStore Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping British Airways Executive Club Gate 365 Delta SkyMiles Shopping Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles Online Mall JetBlue TrueBlue Shop True Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping United’s MileagePlus Shopping Virgin America Elevate Fly Store Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Shops Away Choice Privileges Rewards Mall Hilton Shop-to-Earn Mall Marriott Rewards Mall