Here are some quick and simple tips to maximize the number of miles, points and/or cashback you earn from your holiday shopping:
1) Register your credit cards with Ebates to earn In-Store Cash Back.
Ebates, is my favorite cashback online shopping portal, has an In-Store Cash Back option where you can earn extra cashback for in-store shopping at certain merchants. In order to take advantage of In-Store Cash Back you have to link one or more credit cards ahead of time for each particular merchant. (If you have not signed up for Ebates yet, I would appreciate using my referral link and you will earn $10 after making a purchase.)
2) If the price of an item is the same, order gifts online rather than buying in-store.
I love online shopping and I very rarely buy something in store. The benefit of ordering online is that you can go through a cash back or mileage earning shopping portal to earn more points than you would earn at the store. These online shopping portals will give you extra miles or points for going through them before clicking to the website you want to shop with. The payouts are always changing but range from 1 mile per dollar to as high as 30 miles per dollar. Going through a portal first before buying something online only takes an extra minute so there is no reason not to do it.
If you don’t want to wait for your item to be shipped, some stores allow you to order and pay online but pick up your item at the store the same day.
3) Use these websites to compare payouts at various online shopping portals.
Evreward and Cashback Monitor are two useful sites that compare which online shopping portals are offering the best payout. The way these sites work is that you enter the merchant you wish to shop at they will show you how many points each online shopping portal is offering per $1.
4) Take advantage of extra bonus miles promotions offered by airline shopping portals.
The shopping portals of the major US airlines sometimes offer extra bonus points for online shopping (in addition to the points you normally earn per $1) so you might want to keep those in mind when online shopping. For example, right now 4 airlines are offering extra bonus miles for online shopping until November 20, 2016. If you plan to do a lot of online shopping, you can potentially earn an extra 16,000 bonus miles. In order to maximize the bonuses, it might make sense to divide your shopping among the various airline shopping portals rather than just use one portal.
5) Check to see if any of your credit cards are offering extra points for shopping at certain types of merchants.
Certain credit cards can earn you extra points at many of the merchants you would be shopping at. So if you have one of these credit cards, you can earn more points than usual for your holiday shopping. These include cards that offer 5% at certain rotating categories every quarter (such as Chase Freedom, Discover and Citi Dividend) as well as cards that regularly earn more at certain merchants (such as Chase Ink at office supply stores).
Some credit cards that earn extra points at certain merchants include:
• Chase Ink cards – earn 5% at office supply stores
• Citi AT&T Access More – earns 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on online retail purchases and travel websites
Credit cards that offer 5% at certain rotating categories each quarter include:
• Chase Freedom – earns 5% at department stores, wholesale clubs and drugstores this quarter.
• Discover – earns 5% cashback at Amazon.com, Department Stores & Sam’s Club this quarter
• Citi Dividend – earns 5% cash back at Best Buy & department stores this quarter
To maximize rewards combine credit cards offering extra points in certain categories with online shopping you can earn even more points. If you use a card that earns 5% at department stores you will earn 5% per $1 for using that credit card plus you will earn extra miles for using an online shopping portal.
6) Consider purchasing gift cards if you have a card that earns you 5%.
Another way to earn more miles is to purchase various third party gift cards with a credit card that earn extra points at merchants such as drugstores and office supply stores. For example, the Chase Freedom card can be used this quarter to purchase a variety of gift cards at drugstores and earn 5%. If you have a Chase Ink card, you can buy gift cards to other stores at office supply stores to earn 5% on your purchases.
7) Purchase gift cards at a discount and use those to make purchases.
This won’t earn you extra miles or points but you can save money (that you can use for travel) by buying gift cards at a discount before purchasing something online or at the store. You can purchase gift cards to various stores at a discount on ebay or various gift card retailers like giftcardzen.com. For example, if you want to buy something from Banana Republic for $200 you can purchase a $200 gift card at giftcardzen.com at $174.00 for a savings of 13% and use the gift card to make your purchase. Some gift cards don’t sell at a large discount (for example Best Buy gift cards can only be bought at a discount of up to 2.5% off at giftcardzen.com) so it might not as worth it to purchase those gift cards at a discount.
Happy shopping! Am I missing any other tips to maximize cash back or miles/points for holiday shopping?