I must confess, I’m not a fan of crowded malls, however, I am a big fan of getting a great deal. I can accomplish both by purchasing my items online through shopping portals, a great way to earn extra miles, points or cashback in addition to rewards earned with your credit card.
What is a shopping portal?
In short, shopping portals are websites that provide links to various internet retailers. In return for directing customers to their site, those retailers pay a commission to the portal for each customer that makes a qualifying purchase. The portal then allots a portion of that commission–in the form of points or cash–to the original customer. You get paid to shop and everybody wins!
Depending on your reward earning preference, there are a number of different portals that you can use. Some credit card issuers have a portal where you can earn points, ie. Chase Ultimate Rewards. Many airlines and hotels have their own portals to earn extra miles or loyalty points in their programs. There are extra cashback sites, like Rakuten and Top Cashback as well. There’s no cost or purchase requirement to sign up.
Finding the Best Rewards
There are two main websites that compare portals. In the past I used evreward to find the best rewards for my shopping, but now I prefer Cashback Monitor. For my money, they have a better interface and more up-to-date reward information.
Let’s say you need to make a purchase at a retailer such as Best Buy. Don’t go directly to their website. Your first step is to visit Cashback Monitor and enter “Best Buy” in their search box. Here are the results.
If you want cash back, the left hand section lists Top Cashback with the highest rates. Go to topcashback.com, enter Macy’s in the search box, press the Shop Now button, and do your shopping by adding items to your cart and checkout as usual.
Be sure to add all your items to your online shopping cart and check out during this online session, or you risk losing out on the cash back. If you need to resume later, remove everything from your shopping cart and start over from scratch–including going through the appropriate cash back portal–when you have the time.
The process is identical if you would prefer to get your rebate in the form of airline miles, hotel loyalty points, or credit card rewards points. Simply use Cashback Monitor to compare programs, click the link on the program you choose (ie. United MileagePlus), login to your miles or points account, search for your retailer, then shop normally.
Occasionally you will see special offers for higher than usual points, miles or cashback. For instance, United Airlines’ MileagePlus Shopping portal normally offers 3 miles per $1 spent at Sephora. For a limited time, that offer is doubled to 6 miles per $1. And if you have a United MileagePlus Explorer credit card, that offer increases to 8 points per $1. These special offers are clearly noted on Cashback Monitor.
Read the Fine Print
Be sure to read the details before you shop. Each retailer on each portal has different conditions. For the most part, gift card purchases are excluded, and you need to add items to your cart after being re-directed from the portal. Here are the details for Best Buy via Top Cashback:
What could stop me from getting cash back?
- Using a promotional/coupon code not posted and approved by TopCashback.
- Returning, exchanging or cancelling part of your order.
- Purchases made on other sites than Best Buy’s US site
What else is essential?
- Cash back amounts are generally based on your final purchase amount and does not include taxes, shipping and the actual discount amount saved through coupons.
- Cash back rates are subject to change, both up and down.
- You must start with an empty basket before clicking through to the retailer.
- Purchases must be completed immediately and fully online.
What to do when
- A “Missing cash back” query must be submitted within 100 days of the transaction.
The Bottom Line
Making your online purchases through shopping portals is an easy way to earn great rewards, with a minimal amount of effort. And for shoppers like me, who prefer to avoid the crowds and lines at conventional brick-and-mortar stores, taking advantage of shopping portals is the convenient and painless way to go!