If I Can Earn Points With In-Store​ Purchases, Why Would I Choose Not To?

One of the unwritten rules of travel hacking is never to leave points or miles on the table. At the minimum, you should earn points for your spending but if you can double or triple dip your spending by stacking offers, you need to do that every time. Not doing so means you didn’t earn miles that you were entitled and that’s just not right.

Justin stare

How is it that I know of a way to earn points with many of my purchases at stores and restaurants but just don’t bother? Because the program (or the phone app associated with it) is just so difficult to work with.

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When Should You NOT Use A Shopping Portal For A Purchase

I’m always looking for ways to maximize the number of miles and points I can earn with every purchase I make. Besides using a credit card with the best multiple for that category, I’ll look to see if I can get extra miles by starting out at a shopping portal (For more information about shopping portals, check out our article on how to find out which one is best for each purchase).

Last week, I was excited when I saw several posts and received an email advertising a limited time offer for bonus points for purchases from the Apple Store.

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There were several things about this offer that immediately made me happy:

  • The usual payout bonus is 1 mile per dollar, so this was a great deal.
  • The offer was good for the newly released Apple iPhone and iPad products, which are often excluded from shopping portal bonuses.
  • There was an offer of 500 bonus points for purchases over $200.

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The only drawback was that this offer was only available through the United MileagePlus shopping portal. While I have no plans to fly with United ever again, there are still uses for MileagePlus points. I logged into the MileagePlus shopping website and clicked through to the Apple Store.

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A Year Of Retention Offers

When I’m charged the annual fee for a credit card, I take time to think if I want to keep, downgrade or cancel the card. For me to keep the card and pay the fee, without having any guilt, the benefits I receive have to be worth more than I’m paying for the card. Those benefits may come in the ability to earn points that allow Sharon and I to go on amazing trips around the world. A card might also provide certain savings on travel like getting a free checked bag with an airline or free WiFi when staying at a hotel. There also also cards that make our travel more comfortable by giving us access to airport lounges or room and car upgrades, like the SUV we received when we rented a base sedan from Sixt.

I’m not a computer programmer, but the equation is a simple one

  • If card benefits > cost, then keep card
  • If card benefits < cost, then cancel card

But what happens if when I go to cancel a card, the bank does something to alter the calculations? That’s how retention offers work.

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I’ll Take Better Coverage Over More Points

For those who collect (and spend) points and miles, deciding which credit card to use when making a purchase is a straightforward process. For most, the card providing the largest return is the one you’ll use. There are some calculations to do considering how much each different point is worth to you but for the most part, the card with the biggest return wins.

If you’re thick into the weeds of maximizing return, you might know of a workaround to get even more points. You may be able to buy a gift card at Staples for 5x points or you might just pick up a discounted gift card on eBay to save 10%. Don’t forget to use a shopping portal for extra points.

For me, there’s one more thought that I need to consider; what card will give me the best insurance coverage for this purchase. It’s not a popular stance, but I’ll give up points for better coverage. Here’s some of the categories where coverage matters to me.

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Using Points To Stay In Orlando, Cruise Ship Excursions, New Airline Voucher System & More!

Happy Sunday to all of our travel friends, near and far! Here are some articles we’ve read from other bloggers (and other sources) that we think you may like, as well, so we’re passing them along.

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