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Rewards credit cards make it easy to earn points and miles for every dollar you spend. While some cards dole out points good for statement credits or gift cards, travel credit cards offer a different promise — the prospect of seeing the world at prices you can afford.
No matter what type of rewards you’re after, however, there’s one thing that’s certain — the more points you rack up, the more freebies you’ll score.
That’s why credit card shopping portals are so important. They allow you to earn more points or miles for every dollar you spend, and with almost no effort on your part. (See also: Everything You Need to Know About Airline Dining Rewards Programs)
How credit card shopping portals work
What are credit card rewards shopping portals, exactly? For the most part, they’re online hubs that let you earn rewards with participating stores.
Some credit card shopping portals are part of frequent flyer programs — American AAdvantage eShopping, Delta SkyMiles Shopping, and Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping, for example. Others let you earn points or miles within specific credit card rewards programs.
No matter which portal you use, they work pretty much the same. Each portal requires you to log into your account any time you shop online, but earning points is as easy as “clicking through” the portal to shop at any participating store. You’ll normally find popular retailers like Macy’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Staples, and Best Buy.
Most stores that participate in shopping portals offer an extra one or two points or miles for each dollar you spend, and these miles will be automatically applied to your account shortly after an eligible purchase is made. (See also: How I’ve Scored Free Travel for 5 Years Straight)
How to earn more rewards through online shopping portals
There are additional details you should know if you hope to use shopping portals to their full potential. Here’s exactly how you can get the most out of online shopping portals this year:
1. Double dip with a rewards credit card
The most important detail to keep in mind with shopping portals is that the points you earn are on top of rewards you earn with a rewards credit card. This means you can effectively “double dip,” earning rewards not only through portal spending, but based on the card you pay with. Also, remember that you don’t always have to pay for your purchase with a credit card that corresponds with the portal you’re using.
2. Use the right rewards credit card
Of course, you should focus on using the right credit card if you hope to score more points and miles over time. Sometimes, the stars align and make it easy to earn a ton of points in a hurry.
For example, look for cards that might offer bonus categories that correspond with shopping portal purchases. If you have a cash back credit card that offers 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter, and the current bonus category is home improvement stores, it would make sense to use that credit card if you planned to click through a portal to earn bonus points at Home Depot, right?
The same is true whenever you have a credit card that offers more points for online purchases. Always assess your selection of credit cards to find the one that gives you the most points and miles for your purchase.
3. Keep your eye out for promotions
Also note that some credit card portals offer specific promotions from time to time, although this is mostly the case with airline shopping portals. United MileagePlus Shopping, American AAdvantage eShopping, and Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping frequently roll out promotions that let you earn additional points and miles if you meet a minimum spending requirement through their portals. While these deals can vary, they usually involve something like, “spend $200 in cumulative purchases through the portal and earn 500 bonus miles.”
If you discover a promotion that coincides with a purchase that needs to be made, you can “triple dip” by earning regular portal rewards, promotional rewards, and points or miles with your rewards credit card.
4. Compare earnings on different portals
Before you click through an airline shopping portal, it’s important to compare the various ones you use. While one might be offering one additional point for each dollar you spend, another might offer three points per $1 at the very same store.
Ideally, you use all the shopping portals that work with rewards programs you belong to. That way, you can take a few minutes to compare portal earnings before you shop.
5. Book “services” for even more rewards
Don’t forget that shopping portals can work for other purchases you make online outside of regular shopping. You can also earn more points and miles booking specific services through portals, although the promotions change all the time.
Keep in mind these kind of bonus offers change frequently, so you must check in with the portals you use before you pay for any service or book anything online. You may never find bonus points for a service at a time you actually need it, but you’ll never know unless you look.