Online shopping portals can be a great way to pick up additional miles & points for purchases you’d make anyway. Just for following a specific link you can earn bonus points in addition to the ones you’d earn anyway for credit card spend. Whenever I make an online purchase I always check to see which shopping portal has the best bonus.
As the name suggests, though, historically online shopping portals only work for online shopping, and not in-store shopping. As far as I’m concerned that’s totally fine, since you’d have to pay to drag me into a retail store.
However, that’s slowly changing. In late October I wrote about how the United MileagePlus Shopping portal began offering bonus miles for select in-store purchases. Now Alaska is doing the same — you can now earn bonus miles for select in-store purchases with Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping.
The bad news is that as of now the number of participating retailers is limited, and the process is a bit cumbersome. The good news is that I like the direction this is headed, and expect we’ll see this expand, both in terms of the shopping portals and stores participating. The biggest restrictions to be aware of are as follows:
- You have to pay with American Express or Visa card to take advantage of this
- You have to specifically register for a retailer before making your in-store purchase in order to earn bonus miles, and once your card is linked to a retailer, you have 30-45 days to make a purchase
To take advantage of this, first you’ll want to choose which retailer you want to make a purchase with. As of now there are 24 retailers offering between 0.5 and 4.5 bonus miles per dollar spent (not including the points you’d usually earn through credit card spend).
Then there are three steps to register.
First you’ll have to link your card, which involves providing the card number and name for the card you’d like to use for your in-store purchase.
You’ll then have to provide your phone number so you can get text alerts about your miles posting (they’ll also text you as soon as you provide your number).
Then the confirmation page will show how long the bonus is linked to your card for. I chose Express as the retailer, and that two mile per dollar spent bonus is valid for 45 days, though this seems to vary by retailer. As you can see, there are restrictions regarding what kind of purchases are eligible (ie, gift cards are excluded).
As of now this is of limited use, though if this is expanded, this has the potential to be useful to many. I know many people prefer to shop in-store, and in those situations this is a great option to have. The downside is that you have to be deliberate here, and have to specifically register a card, so this isn’t great for spontaneous shopping.