Getting There BETTER | An Introduction to Online Shopping Portals: Getting More Miles and Points
You love the idea of travel — fabulous vacations, visits to the grandparents, a mid-winter business trip to warm climates — but travel kind of sucks, right? Brutal lines. Checked bag fees. TSA “special” pat downs. Middle seats in the way back. Expensive, inflexible tickets. Hotel rooms with views of the parking lot. Torture. But, really, it doesn’t have to. There are a few, genuinely simple things you can do to make it much, much better. So follow along and get there better.
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AAdvantage E-shopping online portal

An Introduction to Online Shopping Portals: Getting More Miles and Points

Most people think only about flights and credit cards when they’re collecting frequent flyer miles and points. But there are actually a huge number of ways to earn miles and points without ever climbing in a metal tube or whipping out the plastic. The best and easiest, as far as I’m concerned, are the online shopping portals.

What’s An Online Shopping Portal?

If you do any online shopping at all, the shopping portal is just the greatest source of free (to you) miles and points . . .and very few people know about them so I’m here to let you in on the secret!

Long ago, airlines discovered that their frequent flyer miles are a currency with value, not just for customer loyalty but that they have value to third parties as well. Any time a vendor “gives” you loyalty miles or points — think credit cards, rental cars, banking promotions, etc — they’ve purchased those miles directly from the airline’s frequent flyer program. It’s a HUGE business and cash cow for the airlines — they sell significantly more miles to third parties than are acquired by actual flights.

One of the ways these miles appear to consumers is through the shopping portals. Stores offer you multiple points or miles for every dollar you spend with them — it sounds crazy until you understand why they exist. Here’s what AA’s shopping portal looks like:

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 1.40.16 PM

The online shopping portals are an EASY way for you to collect more miles and points just by adding one quick step to your regular online shopping. Once you’ve established a free account with one (or multiple) airline portals, you simply start your shopping there instead of going straight to the retailer site — in many cases, you’ll get an extra 4-6 miles for every item you purchase!

Airline Shopping Portal Example

Let’s use Lowes as an example:

I need new LED light bulbs and a hose. I go to the AAdvantage E-Shopping portal and search under “categories”

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.05.50 PM

Pick “Tools & Hardware” and check out the results:

Aadvantage e-shopping portal

You’ll notice that Lowes is offering 3 points per dollar while HomeDepot is offering only 2. You always need to make the best shopping choice for you, but in this case, if the prices and shipping costs are the same, I’ll be picking Lowes.

I’ll click on “Lowes” and it will take me to Lowes.com landing page.

lowes.com landing page

Now, for every dollar that I spend at Lowes in this transaction, they’ll put 3 AAdvantage miles into my AAdvantage account. I shop for my lightbulbs and hose — and whatever else I find — add any discount coupons I may find and complete my transaction. And voila! The points generally show up in my AAdvantage account within about 2 weeks. And it doesn’t matter what credit card you use — you’ll separately get whatever points you should earn for your spend, too.

Here’s the Lowes example again:

$100 spent at Lowes using AAdvantage E-shopping portal and my American Express card resulted in:

300 AAdvantage points
100 Membership Rewards

Keys to Remember about Online Shopping Portals

The critical factor here is that you always complete the sale using the page you’ve been directed to from the shopping portal. This is because the sites use cookies to track where you’ve come from and in order for you to get credit, you have to be tracked back to the airline shopping portal. If you’re already shopping online and remember halfway through to go to the portal, that’s okay — simply go to the portal, click on the store in question and open up the new page. It should keep whatever was already in your shopping basket.

There’s no additional cost to you of any kind – the stores are looking to influence shopper behavior so, like discount coupons, they’re providing a shopper benefit that will hopefully sway you to shop with them. The remarkable thing is how many different kinds of retail participate — it’s a huge opportunity to get more lift from the regular transactions you already undertake.

I already have a lot of AAdvantage miles so I’m diversifying by using the United and Chase portals recently but as you can see, this has been an easy way for me to accumulate a lot of miles in the past few years:

AAdvantage E-Shopping account

Online Shopping Portals for Credit Cards

There are also credit card portals that work the same way — the largest is Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal that returns a multiple of Ultimate Rewards points to Chase card holders who use their portal. For Chase card holders, log in to your account, go to Ultimate Rewards and look for “Earn Points” to find their portal.

Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal

Let’s say you need toothpaste and other general household items and you shop at Drugstore.com. You go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards online portal, click through to Drugstore.com and spend $100 on your Chase Sapphire card. You’ll get:

400 Ultimate Reward points for using the portal
100 Ultimate Reard points for using your Chases Sapphire Preferred card

That’s 500 more points than you had before — congratulations!

Online Shopping Portal Pro Tip!

How do you know which portal to use? Which one gives you the most points — that you want? Use an shopping portal online comparison tool – I tend to like Evreward.com. Put in the name of the store where you’re planning to shop:

Evreward.com landing page

And it will return all the different opportunities available:

Evreward.com comparison results

Which one you pick depends on your particular goals and what’s providing the best offer. The best offer is not generally the highest — in the example above, I’d never pick Choice Privileges, even though it’s highest, because I frankly wouldn’t know how to spend them. And the Choice Privileges program isn’t a great one for value, at least for me, though it might be for some. Personally, I’d probably pick the Ultimate Rewards — at 4.0 points per dollar, it’s the highest one that supports my goals and those points are very flexible.

Best Airline Shopping Portals

Below are links to the major online shopping portals — pick the ones you think are worthwhile for your goals and flight patterns and go ahead and register for an account. Then, the next time you do any online shopping, don’t forget to check out the portal options!

Airline Online Shopping Portal
Air Canada Aeroplan Aeroplan eStore
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Mileage Plan Shopping
American Airlines AAdvantage AAdvantage eShopping
British Airways Executive Club BA eStore
Delta SkyMiles SkyMiles Shopping
Southwest Rapid Rewards Rapid Rewards Shopping
United MileagePlus Mileage Plus Shopping

So, have you tried the online portals? Tell us about your experience!

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