It’s almost unavoidable this time of year. Even if you don’t want to shop for gifts – or for yourself! – on Black Friday, or even on Thanksgiving, retailers offer deals scarcely seen throughout the rest of the year, forcing your hand with prices that seem too good to be true.
In most cases, you can beat the traffic by shopping online. Some stores are even offering their Black Friday prices online already in order to help stave off the horde of shoppers. Even better, if you’re smart about it, this can be a great time to rack up miles and points while getting great deals! Here are our tips for coming out of Black Friday a winner:
Compare Shopping Portals
We’ve discussed eShopping malls before, in particular the Ultimate Rewards Mall. Which mall offers the best bonus for you depends not only on which points or miles programs you care most about, but also on what store you’re shopping with!
The difference in bonuses between malls can be significant. For example, Ultimate Rewards offers 10 points per $1 at Kohls, while Delta offers only 1 SkyMile per $1.
It would be an extraordinary hassle to check one eShopping Mall after another to see if you’re better off shopping via eBates, Ultimate Rewards, TopCashBack, United, Southwest, Delta or others. That’s where sites like evReward.com and CashBackMonitor.com come in. These sites allow you to quickly search by store to see which shopping mall or portal offers the best deal for you! From there, you can login to the best one, proceed with your purchase and know that you earned the most miles possible.
Look for Bonus Offers
Several airline shopping portals are offering bonus miles above the normal rates based on the total amount you spend through the portal during the holiday shopping season.
AAdvantage eShopping is offering 750 miles for $75 in purchases, 1,500 miles for $150 in purchases or 2,500 miles for $250 in purchases made before December 2nd. That’s like earning 10x miles on top of the regular bonus offered by each merchant and miles earned with your credit card!
For example, combining this with the crazy 60 miles per $1 being offered through AAdvantage eShopping right now by Magazines.com would mean an effective earnings rate of 71 miles per $1 if you spend right to one of the spending thresholds and add in an extra mile per dollar for your credit card. Maybe it’s time to send some folks magazines for Christmas!
SkyMiles Shopping is offering 500 miles for every $125 in cumulative spending between now and December 5th, up to 5,500 bonus miles. Meanwhile, MileagePlus Shopping is offering an extra 500 bonus miles for every $250 in purchases up to 2,500 bonus miles. Neither of these deals are as good as American’s, but if you participate more in Delta or United’s programs, then these can still be better-than-normal deals to consider.
Read the Terms and Conditions
The fine print is important when it comes to shopping portals. Sometimes, certain items, categories or departments are ineligible for earning miles. In many cases, purchases of gift cards won’t earn you miles. In some cases, using extra promo codes or coupons can also preclude you from earning miles.
These differ from store to store, but fear not: the fine print is typically very easy to understand. Just make sure to read it so you don’t end up disappointed by making a purchase expecting to earn miles that is ineligible!
Points Don’t Stop With Travel
While we focus on the type of points and miles best for seeing the world from 30,000 feet, it’s worth remembering that other types of points are out there!
Whether it’s Staples Rewards, Best Buy’s Reward Zone or countless other programs, there are many great opportunities to earn credit toward future purchases that are worth keeping in mind.
For example, Staples now offers 5% Back on nearly all purchases in the form of Staples Rewards certificates. For those with a card that pays out points for Office Supply stores, like Chase Ink‘s 5x category bonus, this can mean serious earnings. Stacking 5x Staples Rewards with 5x Ultimate Rewards points from Ink plus another 3x Ultimate Rewards points for shopping through the Ultimate Rewards Mall can be like taking 13% off your order. Coupons and promotions can only accelerate the savings from there!
Let Others Do the Work
The sheer scope of deals out there can often be difficult to digest, and it’s often hard to know what deal is the very best for any given product once rebates, store rewards programs and coupons come into effect. That’s okay. Just like we geek out over finding the greatest travel deals, there are plenty of folks out there who love finding the best deals when shopping.
Check out your favorite deals blogs and leverage their work to make saving easier. My personal favorite is SlickDeals.net, which has a very robust community always on top of the latest and greatest deals out there.
What are some of YOUR favorite tips and tricks for earning points and miles while shopping? Let us know in the comments!