How to Get 10 Times More Points When You Shop Online

by Jason on March 28, 2012

in Double Dipping,Travel Credit Cards,Travel Shopping Malls

One of the best ways to maximize your airline and hotel points programs is online shopping. If you can simply change your shopping habits to making purchases online instead of offline, you’ll add some major points & miles to your accounts and get to your next flight award or free hotel stay much faster. In this post, I’m going to walk you through some basic and some more advanced strategies for doing exactly that. If you’re a beginner, this post is mostly targeted at you. But even if you’re more of a veteran, I’m sure you’ll find at least a few new tips.

Example From Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Mall

Why Online Shopping Works

Virtually all major hotels and airlines have their own online “shopping mall” for you to browse and use to make purchases. Even the major retail banks that offer travel credit cards have their own virtual malls – Chase & AMEX are two very popular examples. So why do these shopping malls exist and why do they make sense for YOU and for the banks, airlines, and hotels?

The magic word here is affiliate. By having these online shopping portals setup, the banks and travel companies can make a small commission off your purchases — a kickback from the retailers for making a purchase. So when you log into the Delta Skymiles Shopping Mall and click on their shopping link to Target.com, Delta is getting credit from Target for sending them a customer. The commissions earned by Delta will vary from purchase to purchase, but I’d be willing to guess it’s anywhere from 5% to 25% of your purchase price. Then, to thank you for buying through their affiliate link, Delta will award you with Delta Skymiles.

The important thing to note here is that if you’re going to make a purchase at Target.com anyway, you might as well be using a hotel, airline, or bank shopping mall to make your purchase. Your online shopping experience will be exactly the same. You just have to make a point of FIRST logging into the travel shopping mall of your choice and THEN clicking through to the retailer you’d like to shop.

Most all of these online travel shopping malls have browse and search features so you can even use their shopping mall to find the best deal (both on price and on points) for the product you want to buy. I’ll dig more into this below.

How To Find The Best Points Value

Before digging into examples of online shopping and how to get major bang for your buck, first I want to introduce the very handy EvReward.com website. Using EvReward.com you can type in the website where you’re planning to do your online shopping and get a quick list of points and rewards provided by that online retailer.

For example, let’s say you wanted to make a purchase at Amazon. Here’s what EvReward shows for that retailer…

EvReward Amazon Example

According to EvReward, Hawaiian Airlines is the only program where you can earn additional miles for using their online shopping mall. So if you’re an aggressive points collector, you’ll want to be sure you have a Hawaiian Airlines frequent flyer account already (or setup a new one for free) and then use their online shopping portal to make ALL amazon purchases.

Then, you can use your favorite travel credit card to double-dip. If I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I could earn 1 point per dollar for my Chase Ultimate Rewards account and then an additional 1 point per dollar from Hawaiian Airlines. Keep in mind that even if you don’t have an upcoming Hawaii flight planned, those Hawaiian Miles could be used to redeem some other kind of partner award.

Hawaiian airlines transfer partners

Of course, you would only want to follow this scenario if the product you’re looking to buy is ONLY available at Amazon or if Amazon provides the best deal on price, shipping, and a number of other factors. I recently made a purchase on Amazon instead of another higher points earning partner because I knew the product would arrive faster. The trick is to weigh all of these factors out to make the smartest decision for you.

Double Dipping With Online Shopping And Travel Credit Cards

“Double Dipping” is basically the strategy I described above with my Amazon example. Usually, to double- or triple-dip, you’ll need to make use of a travel rewards credit card. Anytime I’m about to make a purchase — any kind of purchase — I’m always asking myself, “How can I get the most points for this purchase?” This question leads me to 3 essential questions. First, where am I shopping? Second, which credit card am I using to make the purchase? And third, which points/miles program do I value the most?

Even if you could potentially get more miles with Delta Skymiles Shopping than you could with United’s MileagePlus Shopping, you might value United miles more than Delta miles. That’s always an important factor to consider. Then again, if the difference is dramatic, I would always choose the higher points regardless.

Focus On Major Purchases And Shopping Events

Personally, I try to do ALL of my shopping online that I can. You’d be surprised how many things you can buy online that you’d normally buy in your local supermarket or home store.

But if you’re not too keen on online shopping, at the very least you should make a point of making all of your major purchases online for double-dipping. Also, make sure you’re subscribed to all of your favorite travel shopping malls for email notifications so you can find out when big deals are being offered. Recently, British Airways offered 36 miles per dollar spent at Nordstrom.com — a huge points opportunity! Those are the kinds of deals and specials I look for so I can complete any upcoming holiday shopping, etc.

When to NOT Shop Online

Sometimes there are major disadvantages to online shopping that could negate the value of any points or miles you might earn. Here are a few online shopping pitfalls…

1. Shipping Can Be Annoying
Today, most shipping providers are pretty good about getting things to your door quickly and easily. But it does still take time to receive those things you’re really excited to get. Some patience is necessary to pull this off.

2. Shipping Can Be Expensive
Make sure your points & miles earnings are not being outweighed by additional costs in shipping. If the costs are small, I’d say it’s usually still worth it because time is money (and gas is expensive!).

3. Cardboard, Cardboard, And More Cardboard
The more online shopping you do, the more you’ll begin to notice the cardboard boxes piling up around your house. This is one part of online shopping and shipping I could live without. Then again, I’m starting to really prefer not having to step foot into malls and stores these days. :)

4. Avoid Making Purchases Solely For Miles And Points
It’s tempting, but just because there are major promos going on doesn’t necessarily mean you NEED to make purchases. Try not to get too carried away counting points and miles and forget to count your total cost.

The Bottom Line

Aside from travel credit card bonuses, online shopping is probably my favorite way to earn extra points and miles. It’s also a great way to keep your miles accounts active to avoid expiration. Even one small purchase activity can help you avoid losing thousands of accrued miles.

Take a moment after reading this post to add bookmarks to your favorite travel shopping malls today!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paul Hanley July 22, 2012 at 7:11 am

Amex mall shut down It seems Amex is clueless The Sorry note has been up way too long. With Americans if you don’t answer for 3weeks or more we don’t call.
I’m going to test Ur mall to Drugstore.com (get drugstore cash back) but pay with Amex The problem is if it’s on theChase bill I’ve been successful in getting missing points. In four months some missing every month. I get a strong impression I know more than the Reps (my math skills are definitely better).
Also there is a gap in the system between card spend and points and either there is no way for reps to get a handle or its too confusing.
All my additional points have been legit IMHO Tho tempted to stretch I can’t because Chase has been a straight shooter.
Thais for your excellent insights in this wonderful hobby.

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