Online shopping has its perks. You can shop whenever you want to, from the comfort of your home. You’re more likely to find better variety, and you can easily compare pricing. Plus, there’s no crowds to deal with and no pressure from salespeople. It’s no wonder that approximately eight out of ten Americans are online shoppers (see stat #21).
So if you’re one of the 76% of U.S. consumers who shop online, why not earn rewards for it as well? If you’re a member of a loyalty program, chances are, you can earn bonuses by using their shopping portal.
Intrigued? We’ll cover everything you need to know about online shopping portals below.
Online Shopping Portals 101
What do shopping portals actually do? In short, they let you earn bonus points, miles or cash back at online partner retailers. To get the extra rewards, you’ll need to start from the portal, then click through to the merchant’s site. As opposed to shopping with the retailer directly.
You’re still purchasing the exact same items from the merchant, but by going through the portal, your shopping will be rewarded. You’ll also earn points, miles or cash back by using your credit card, so it’s an easy way to double-dip.
Let’s take, for example, a $100 online purchase (not including taxes and fees) at Office Depot. If you use the American Airlines AAdvantage shopping portal and your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card, here’s what you would earn:
- Office Depot purchases via the AAdvantage shopping portal earns 4 miles per $1 spent. So you’ll earn 400 AAdvantage miles for that $100 purchase.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 1 point per $1 spent on non-travel and dining purchases. So you’ll earn 100 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for that $100 purchase.
*The example above is for illustrative purposes only. The actual miles or points earned may change.
If you shopped online at Office Depot directly, you would’ve missed out on 400 bonus miles!
So how exactly do online shopping portals work? Here’s how each party benefits:
- The Portal takes a cut of any purchase The Consumer makes from The Retailer.
- The Retailer gets additional traffic and business to their online store, thanks to The Portal.
- The Consumer gets points or miles as a reward from The Portal.
Types of Online Shopping Portals
Every major airline has its own online shopping portal, and they all work pretty much the same way. The login process might vary from carrier to carrier, but every single one gives bonus points on purchases at partner retailers.
For reference, below is a linked list of popular airline shopping portals:
There are four credit card issuers that have online shopping portals:
|Chase||Ultimate Rewards Shop|
|Citi||Bonus Cash Center*|
|Wells Fargo||Earn More Mall|
*The Citi portal earns cash back, not points.
In order to use the Barclaycard, Chase or Wells Fargo portal, you’ll need to have an open and active credit card that earns points within the bank’s rewards program. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card qualifies while the United℠ Explorer Card card does not.
Keep in mind, you can do 1:1 transfers from Ultimate Rewards to many travel partners. That means you could effectively earn British Airways Avios, Hyatt points or United Airlines miles when you do your online shopping via the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
If you can’t be bothered with credit card points or airline miles, cash back shopping portals are great options.
There are plenty of portals that offer cash back. Our favorites include:
Expect to get anywhere from 1% to 5% cash back on your purchases with limited-time bonuses at select retailers. Some even let you earn bonuses for travel purchases, like airfare, hotel stays and bookings with online travel agencies.
1% cash back = 1 Membership Rewards point
Because we currently value each Membership Rewards point at $0.02 each, choosing to earn points over cash back is the better deal because you’ll effectively double your return.
Maximizing Online Shopping Portals
With so many shopping portals at your fingertips, you probably think the process is a nightmare for finding the one with the best bonus for a particular merchant. But thankfully, there are tools you can use called shopping portal aggregators.
Shopping portal aggregators gather information from all shopping portals and let you know which one currently offers the biggest return for your purchase. Our favorites are Cashbackholic, Cashback Monitor and Evreward.
Shopping portals constantly offer limited-time promotions. Make sure to log into your accounts every once in awhile and keep an eye out for email promos.
You can also set alerts through Cashback Monitor for when specific merchants increase their cashback offer.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for online shopping portals:
- DO enable cookies in your browser for the merchant’s site. This lets the portal track your purchases and award your bonuses accordingly.
- DO click through the retailer’s link on the portal and make your purchase from the pop-up page. DO NOT navigate away because it might not qualify for the bonus.
- DO NOT use promotions or promo codes found outside the portal. They might make your purchase ineligible for the bonus.
- DO read the fine print for every retailer. Most don’t count gift cards as eligible purchases for bonuses, and others will exclude specific products.
Shopping portals are an excellent way to earn bonus points, miles or cash back for online purchases. Even if you’re only earning one or two points for every dollar you spend, these bonuses can quickly add up toward awards like luxury hotel stays, first-class flights and spending cash for your next vacation.
See our list of the best credit card bonuses here.
If you’re an online shopper, and you’re not using online shopping portals, you’re basically leaving cash on the table.
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