Two to Travel (And Tango)

Travel Tips and Inspiration From Millennials, For Millennials

An Introduction to Online Shopping Portals: Why Everyone Should Use One for Online Purchases

Shopping portals. We’ve spoken about them here and there, but not done an exhaustive post about them. And before you ask, no, we won’t make exhaustive exhausting. The goal is simple: earn miles with little effort. Rinse. Repeat. Shopping portals are simply ways to get extra points, miles, or dollars for purchases you are planning to make anyway! Something for nothing? Well, in this case yes, sort of. But there’s a trick to everything, and in this case the trick isn’t that hard to overcome. 

Simply put, shopping portals are nothing more complex than awareness. If you know they exist, you know where to find them and how to link them to your accounts, then you know how to get something for nothing. With us still?

How they work

Shopping portals are deceptively easy to use. Find a portal that aligns with your interest. So perhaps you only fly Southwest Airlines. Well, if you do nothing else sign up for Rapid Rewards Shopping. Create an account, link your frequent flyer number from Rapid Rewards to the mall. And now you’ve got an account. The same can be done for United, American, Delta, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Air Canada, IHG, and so on!

Now What?

Shop. The holiday season is approaching. Those holiday gifts you were planning to buy for family living across the country and ship to them. Do it. But instead of going straight to say the website for Macy’s, first, go to your shopping portal. Log in. Search out the store you’re interested in buying from click it, and the link redirects you to the website for the company you’re planning to buy from. Simply shop, check out, and you’re done! A few weeks later, you’ll get notification that you earned bonus miles in the shopping portal. Getting an extra something for nothing.

When do we use shopping portals?

All the time! Buying something off a wedding or baby registry?

If they’re registered in a store that links with a shopping portal, it’s easy to buy the gift, and earn the bonus points. Gifts, regular purchases, and so much more is now done through shopping portals. More and more stores like Office Depot and Best Buy offer the option to buy online, pick up in store. That’s another great way to earn miles and save time!

Which shopping portals do Laura and I use?

Laura and I have focused on three portals in particular:

1. Chase Ultimate Rewards. This is often the most lucrative portal and the one used the most since we have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. If you have drank the Kool Aid we drink, you by now have this or some other card from Chase as well. Chase has some great bonus categories, and we like having the flexibility to use our points toward so many reward programs!

2. Upromise. This one is very unique to us but incredibly valuable. I started using Upromise because it provided a percentage of cash back that went toward paying down by loans managed by Sallie Mae. A few years into the game, I saw that they had a great high yield savings account (0.8% APR as of publication), and so I got that for my long term savings. And as long as I deposit at least $25 monthly into the account, at the end of the year Sallie Mae provides a 10% match of all my savings from Upromise! We use Upromise for a lot of everyday purchases, but I find it most valuable in our hotel bookings, and usually first visit upromise, search hotels.com, and that takes me to my favorite hotel aggregator.

3. AAdvantage eShopping. By now you know, American is our preferred carrier. I like my elite benefits with them. They’ve got great flight options out of LAX. And I’m inching along toward something called Million Mile Status, which means after earning 1 million miles with American, I get lifetime Gold Status, which is enticing.

But how much have you really earned through this?

I have a pair of sandals I’ve owned since 2006. Random factoid, I know. But the point is this: I’m not a big shopper. When I buy something, I make use of it until I can no more. So Laura and I aren’t the type to shop just to shop. And yet, we’ve earned a lot through these shopping portals, despite only really using them since 2010 and only getting serious about them in 2012. How much have we earned?

On Upromise, as of today, we’ve earned $729.59 back.

On AAdvantage eShopping, we’ve earned 19,712 miles.

On Chase Ultimate Rewards we’ve earned 10,395 miles.

And again: All for doing shopping we were planning to do anyway. You tell me if this is worth it.

What’s best for you?

Like most things in travel, that depends. If you have loans through Sallie Mae or a High Yield Savings account with them, Upromise is great. If you’ve got an ultimate rewards earning credit card through Chase, it’s hard to not go with Ultimate Rewards. But if you’ve got specific loyalty to one airline or hotel program, there’s so many programs (I’ll list what we know below) that might be worth zeroing in on!

Secret Bonus Tip

If like us, you sign up for a couple portals, there are tools to help you figure out which one offers the best bonus for each purchase. So while three of four portals might offer a bonus on Groupon, you will often find that one portal can be more lucrative than another. As such, we use EV Rewards to search which is most lucrative.

An example of a search for Target on EV Reward to see which shopping portal has the best earning rate!

An example of a search for Target on EV Reward to see which shopping portal has the best earning rate!

Popular Airline Shopping Portals

Like we said, there’s a portal for almost every airline program.

Air Canada: Aeroplan EStore

American Airlines: AAdvantage eShopping

British Airways:  Gate 365 (Formerly BA Miles Estore)

Delta: Sky Miles Shopping

Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian Airlines eMarket

Southwest: Rapid Rewards Shopping

United: Mileage Plus Shopping

Popular Hotel Shopping Portals

Choice Rewards: Choice Privileges Mall

Hilton HHonors: Hilton HHonors Shop to Earn Mall

Marriott Rewards: Shop My Way

Other Portals

Amtrak: Amtrak Guest Rewards

Chase: Ultimate Rewards Shopping

Upromise

Do you ever use shopping portals? What has been your experience?

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Please note: Laura and I do receive a commission if you purchase any products through the links on our website. You don’t have to but we’re of course more than thankful when you do use our links!

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6 Comments

  1. Immersion trip coordinator by day, bad ass with miles and points secrets by night. Thanks Patricio- feeling a little foolish I didn’t see this before I bought a vacation package on Living Social!

  2. We rarely shop. Having no permanent home and no storage necessitates that! Even so, when we’re traveling on a work contract we stay in Marriott hotels almost exclusively (then get reimbursed by our employer). We’ve been using Big Crumbs to book rooms lately, and it’s been working great…almost $500 back so far. We chose that portal because of a good percentage back with Marriott. With the holidays coming, we’ll have our only other real online shopping expense, so we’ll have to see what makes sense there. Thanks for the tip on EV Rewards!

    • It amazes me how far loyalty can still get you as far as bonus points and wonderful perks. Happy to help! Hopefully next time you have to buy a gift for someone ev rewards can help!

  3. Nice introduction about online shopping. I really learn from you. No doubt, today people use online portals. Thanks for the info…

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