Airline Shopping Portals (Online Loyalty Programs)

Online shopping portals can be one of the easiest ways to earn bonus miles or points for your purchases. Before you shy away from using one of these out of fear there are multiple extra steps or hoops to jump through, let’s take a look at just how easy this can be.

These portals work by directing you to a specific retailer’s site, and from there you do your shopping as normal. Any purchase you make gets tracked, and you receive the extra points shortly thereafter. That’s right, the extra step involved to earn hundreds or thousands of bonus points or miles each year is simply to click through to the retailer’s site through the portal, rather than typing in the page in your internet browser.

My approach to online shopping portals is fairly simple: if I can purchase something online and get bonus miles, rather than having to go to a store (and not get any bonus miles), I’m pretty much good. There are often opportunities to stack gift cards or double-dip, as well as several portals that offer cash-back, but for now let’s just go over the basics of earning miles and points on your online shopping.

How do I decide which online shopping portal to use?

This somewhat depends on what your travel goals are, and what miles you’re trying to accrue, as well as what you’re purchasing.

One of the main ways I encourage people to keep miles from expiring is by making a purchase from an online portal. You can often purchase something from iTunes or similar, which is a great way to reset the expiration clock with an airline program.

Otherwise, if you have a specific product in mind, it helps to do some research. Assuming what you plan to purchase is the same price at multiple retailers, Cashback Monitor is our pick for finding out which portals have the best bonuses. These portals often have extra bonuses for Back to School, or during various holidays, so it’s good to check before each purchase.

Here’s a quick snapshot of all the shopping portals available:

Loyalty ProgramShopping Portal
Air CanadaAeroplan EStore
Air FranceAir France Flying Blue Shopping
AlaskaMileage Plan Shopping
AlitaliaAlitalia Shopping
All Nippon AirwaysANA Global Mall
AmericanAAdvantage Eshopping
AviancaLifeMiles e-Store
AmtrakAmtrak Guest Rewards
British AirwaysBA Miles Estore
Cathay PacificAsia Miles iShop
ChaseUltimate Rewards Shopping
DeltaSkyMiles Shopping
Hawaiian AirlinesHawaiian Airlines eMarket
Hilton HHonorsHilton HHonors Shop to Earn Mall
Japan AirlinesJAL Shopping Americas
JetBlueTrueBlue Shopping
KLMFlyingBlue Shopping
QantasQantas Shopping
Singapore AirlinesKrisFlyer Spree
SouthwestRapid Rewards Shopping
UnitedMileagePlus Shopping
Virgin AtlanticShops Away

I generally wouldn’t recommend using a hotel shopping portal, as the best hotel portals tend to be Marriott and IHG Rewards, and in both cases it makes more sense to accrue Ultimate Rewards points. The same is also generally true for United and Southwest, so keep in mind that they are Ultimate Rewards transfer partners as well.

How do I earn bonus miles?

The process for earning bonus points is fairly straightforward in most cases:

  • Go to the shopping portal for the program you want to earn miles in
  • Sign in to your account
  • Find the retailer you want to purchase from, and click on their link
  • Complete your purchase as normal
  • In most cases the portals claim points will post in 4-6 weeks, though in my experience they’re often much faster

As a best practice, I would recommend using clearing your cache and making sure your shopping cart is empty beforehand, as otherwise there can be issues with the “click-thru” not tracking correctly. It’s also smart to keep track of the points you’re expecting to earn, and following up if they don’t post.

What about shipping costs?

Many retailers waive shipping for orders over a certain threshold, while others (such as Apple, BestBuy, Nordstrom, and the ContainerStore) will allow you to order the item online, then pick it up in the store. This can be the best of both worlds, as you still get the bonus miles, but don’t have to wait for the items to be shipped.

It’s also worth noting many items are eligible for free two-day shipping through Shoprunner, which is offering eligible American Express cardholders a complimentary 1-year membership.

Unfortunately, the most common same-day/next-day shipping retailer out there, Amazon, is rarely available through a shopping portal.


Overall, I find this to be a pretty easy way to pick up extra points throughout the year.

Another way to maximize points is to earn miles through a dining rewards program, which can help rack up extra points every time you dine out, no matter which credit card you use.

Comments
  1. Amex Platinum also covers replacement from loss or theft. Does MasterCard or Visa offer this protection?

    I’ve turned in claims on two occasions with Amex for damaged and stolen merchandise and the coverage was fantastic.

    Buying a new iphone tomorrow and would love to know if using the UR portal needs to be using in conjunction with paying with a Chase card?

  2. If I sign up with multiple dining programs using the same credit card do I get points applied to EACH program when I dine at a participating restaurant?

  3. @Jeff you can’t sign up with multiple dining programs using the same credit card as all of the programs ran by the same provider rewardsnetwork.com. One of the rules is that any card can be registered with one program at the time.

    For example, if you register card with United and then the same card with American, card will automatically will be unregistered from United.

  4. Lucky, question for ya – I’ve noticed that the AAdvantage portal has links to IHG.com and Hilton.com (right now at 3x and 2x miles per $, respectively). can you earn these portal-miles ON TOP OF miles you could normally earn thru those reservations (direct from the hotel chains), or is the portal merely describing those latter miles? I’m suspicious because 1) the terms say that the miles won’t be awarded until the stay is “fulfilled”, which is unlike how all other purchases work on the portal, and 2) I’ve never heard any blogger talking about booking hotel stays through the portal. curious if you’ve ever tried this. thanks

  5. @ Mike — Thanks for the heads up on this! You can indeed earn those miles in addition to the Hilton points you usually earn. Good find! Writing about this now.

  6. Is this a way to show minimum activity in accounts which have been inactive for long periods and miles are in jeopardy of expiring?

  7. This is such a useful post! I’m always looking for extra ways to earn points through my everyday spending!

  8. Perhaps readers are more interested in the shopping portals of the legacy carriers but I would suggest – given the airline’s ever-growing network – that a link for Norwegian Reward might be useful.

  9. Lucky…if I use one Chase card (SWA) to make a deposit on a cruise and pay the majority of the cost using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, will I still get the trip insurance benefits on the CSP card?

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