I use shopping portals to get miles for things I’d be buying anyway. Portals are websites that you click through to get to other websites. When shopping through a portal, you can get different types of bonuses. There are cash back portals, like Ebates, which pay you a percentage of your purchase, whereas airlines and hotels run portals that pay you back in miles or points in their respective programs. Credit cards also have shopping portals, where you can earn points in the corresponding rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards.
There are dozens of these portals out there so I like to check several of them before making any purchase online. My current favorite site to check the current payout rates is Cashback Monitor. This website keeps up to date listings of the amount that each shopping portal will pay for a specific website.
Anyway, I wanted to purchase a deal I saw on Groupon. I know there are usually great deals for purchases with Groupon on varying shopping portals and was happy to see that Chase had a great payout…
AAA. It’s a name synonymous with travel. Most people associate them with the roadside assistance they provide when you have car trouble. But they also provides many other services, some travel related and others that seem to have nothing to do with automobiles.
For me, my first knowledge of AAA was their TripTik® maps. When we were going on a road trip, we’d tell AAA where we were going and they’d give us a road map with a route highlighted. For an obsessive planner, this was heaven. I remember looking at these things way before I could drive.
Times change and as you know, getting a map to your destination is now as easy as looking at your car’s GPS or pulling up an app on your phone.
Even though we no longer need the maps, I still have my membership and have no intention of getting rid of it. I use my AAA card for several other purposes:
The hotel chains have spent a lot of money on marketing to try to get you to book a hotel room directly with them by using their website or app and have gone with the “carrot and stick” approach to achieve that goal. On one hand, they’ve gone out of their way to market special low “Member Exclusive Rates” that are only available to members of their loyalty program and “Best Rate Guarantees” that tell you if you find a cheaper rate after booking with them, they’ll match it and lower the rate even further. At the same time, the hotel chains penalize you for booking anywhere except directly with them. Some of these “sticks” are they don’t give you any recognition of your loyalty status or let you earn any points in their program when staying on externally booked stays. They’ll also only give perks like free Wi-Fi if you’ve booked directly with them.
When I say you need to book direct with the hotel, I mean you use the hotel’s website, the hotel chain’s website, the smartphone app for the hotel chain, or by calling the hotel to make a reservation.
When I mention using an “external” website, that is basically everything else. Websites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Priceline, Hotels Tonight, Hotwire and Booking.com are just some of them. If you’re completing the booking anywhere but with the hotel, it’s an external website.
Hotel search engines like Trivago, Kayak and TripAdvisor show you prices directly from the hotel as well as from external sites, so it’s best to use something like that to see who has the cheapest price.
The shopping portals for the airlines seem to have figured out that most people procrastinate about ordering flowers for Valentine’s Day. You know it’s next Tuesday, right? If you are going to order your flowers online, there are no shortages of offers out there.
This list is of the bonuses being offered by different programs for purchases from FTD. You can get 25 miles per dollar spent at United, American or Delta. You can also just get cash back with Ebates, who is currently offering 20% back on purchases. If you join Ebates with this link you’ll get $10 when you spend $25. (Full Disclosure, they will also pay us a referral bonus)
I always check to see which portal to use before buying anything online, because even the major retailers will often offer you bonus miles. I’ve found a site called Cashbackmonitor, which gives a robust list of different shopping portals and I’m using it more and more.
For example, say I want to get roses for Sharon from FTD and earn American Airline miles for my purchase. Clicking on the link from Cashbackmonitor will take me here:
As this is the offer I want, I would click on the “Shop Now” button and get this:
You then sign in with your account info (you have signed up for the programs already, right?). You will be directed to the website of whatever store from which you plan to buy the items.
The browser will then identify you to FTD (via your browser cookies), and that’s how FTD and the shopping portals both know to issue the miles to you. It’s important not to go browsing around between clicking from the shopping portal and buying the item (if you do, the program could lose track of you and not give you your miles).
If you need to browse the ‘net or do something else and just come back later, put the items in your cart, close the website and repeat the above steps to get back to the final website.
Hope this gives you an introduction on shopping portals and how to use them. If you have any questions, please comment below or ask us on Facebook or Twitter.