Shopping through portals to earn miles 101

Isn’t “portal” a lovely word? Sure it just comes from L. porta but it still makes me think of Delphic oracles or something. Mystique has been loaded onto the word, I believe primarily through the constant usage of the term in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It also just so happens that more wonder can be added onto the word “portal” in regards to airline shopping mall portals. Now the airlines don’t run these online malls themselves, other companies buy miles from the airline and then the mall encourages you to shop through them and then you earn those miles. Sometimes it is the same company that runs multiple malls and if you register your card through one shopping mall (to get some discounts at retail locations), you can’t have it registered with another mall. But if you’re just shopping online, then you don’t have to worry about this. Anyway, essentially you can make so very many miles so easily just by 1. participating in your favorite airline’s mileage program, 2. signing up for an account with the mileage program’s associating shopping mall portal, 3. when you’re going to buy something, logging into that shopping mall portal and then clicking on whatever store you want to shop through.

You can generally make around 5 miles per dollar spent (again, this is on top of whatever miles you get from spending with a mileage earning credit card), and oftentimes a lot more. Miles amounts are not uniform, so it’s worth using to compare the deals at portals.

The portals I use most frequently are the United MileagePlus Shopping and AAdvantage Shopping, as I am most committed to those mileage programs. Since I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I also try to shop through the Ultimate Rewards mall, but you need a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards to access it and pay for purchases through it. There are also Delta’s Skymiles Shopping and US Airways’ Dividend Miles Storefront, among others. The Points Guy has a post that explains holiday bonus deals at these places and more.

I haven’t had much of a problem increasing the miles I earn for online purchases as the places I shop at most often are represented at these portals:, Sephora, Apple (I made a ton of miles with this laptop), Amazon (see below with Hawaiian Miles), Vision Direct (this nerd wears contacts), Steve Madden, Best Buy and so on.

Unless I’m shopping for groceries or on a trip outside the States (I don’t shop for clothes in the States much. It’s next to impossible to buy pants here.), I’ll restrain myself from buying stuff in stores and just wait to get the same items online. This is usually not too hard to do as shopping in Pennsylvania can really stink and the malls here can be some of the most depressing and frustrating places on earth. I can usually find a free shipping coupon somewhere or I’ll stock up to meet the free shipping requirement.

In anticipation of the weight I’ll gain over Christmas and Chinese New Year, I bought a $25 Groupon that will get me ten Pilates classes at a nearby gym (I hate gyms, I’ve never belonged to one and I refuse to ever actually join one). Since the Ultimate Rewards mall is offering 15 points per dollar spent (in addition to the 1 point per dollar I’ll get by using the card), I’ll garner 400 points from a single purchase. These points I’ll eventually convert to United miles.


2 Comments on “Shopping through portals to earn miles 101”

  1. […] 4. Shopping online through an airline-associated shopping portal. See explanation here. […]

  2. […] For instance, since partners with travel programs such as American Airlines, Amtrak, Choice Privileges, Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, Southwest, US Airways and United Airlines, buying a single song off iTunes can reset the clock on any of those accounts. Plus you earn an extra point or mile for buying through the associated shopping portal. You MUST make the purchase through the portal. […]

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